In the summer of 2014, Brian Johnson ’14 was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Robert Sibley Cooper, Jr. Fellowship. This summer fellowship, established by Ann Cooper in memory of her husband Robert Sibley Cooper, Jr., provides a Gettysburg College student or recent graduate the opportunity to spend a summer working at the Civil War Institute. As the inaugural Cooper Fellow, Johnson assisted CWI Director Peter Carmichael with research for his forthcoming book on Civil War soldiers and played a central role in staffing the annual Civil War Institute Summer Conference and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Teacher Seminar, “The American Civil War Through Material Culture.”
About Robert Sibley Cooper
Robert Sibley Cooper, Jr. (June 16, 1937 – July 22, 2007) was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and grew up in Louisiana and Arkansas. As a small boy during World War II, he became fascinated by war. His youthful interest was stoked by an elderly, childless aunt who began to pass her Civil War books along to him. He developed a passion for American history that would span a lifetime and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Civil War. He considered July 4, 1863 (the day after the Battle of Gettysburg), the saddest day in American history because of the tragic loss of life and human potential.
Robert Cooper, an avid student at every stage of his life, was blessed with a keen intellect and an exceptional memory. He earned a B.A. in History from Centenary College and an LL.B. from the Louisiana State University School of Law. He had an outstanding academic record, earning several awards and prizes, while completing seven years of course work in five and a half years. He contributed articles to the Louisiana Law Review and was inducted into the national legal fraternity, the Order of the Coif, before entering into the practice of law in 1961. Over the years, he earned a deserved reputation as an experienced, thorough, and tenacious litigator and was inducted into the L.S.U. Law School Hall of Fame in 1987.
Robert Cooper had a brilliant mind and a kind heart. In 1987, at the age of 49, he moved from his native state of Louisiana to an 18th century house in rural Tidewater Virginia; and, by 1992, had fully retired from the practice of law. He happily lived out the remainder of his life with his wife Ann, immersed in shared interests in history, architecture, and decorative arts. He especially enjoyed having time to continue his study of the Civil War and visit battlefields.
About Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson graduated from Gettysburg College in May 2014 with majors in History and Business. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Brian excelled academically during his time at Gettysburg, earning both the Jeffrey Pierce Memorial Award and the Franklin Moore Award. During his undergraduate years, Brian served as a Resident Assistant and an Admissions Tour Guide, and interned at two Smithsonian museums, the National Museum of American History and the National Portrait Gallery. He also served as a CWI Fellow and completed two internships under the auspices of the Brian C. Pohanka Internship Program.
Brian has recently accepted an Americorps position as a Completion Coach at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio. In this position, which he will begin in August, Brian will assist students in creating and adhering to a “completion plan” that will keep them on track to graduate from their specific degree program. He will continue his involvement with Gettysburg College as a member of the ‘Burgians of the Last Decade (BOLD) Council.
The centennial observance of World War I kicked off this summer with the contested commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie. CWI assistant director Ian Isherwood '00, a British historian and scholar of the First World War, recently authored a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer challenging Americans to use the anniversary to grapple with the effects of a conflict that fundamentally shaped the 20th-century world and reshaped this nation's relationship with the world outside its borders. Read Isherwood's piece in its entirety here.
On March 31, the 2014 Brian C. Pohanka Interns were offered a taste of the exciting work they'll be doing this summer at National Park Service sites and private museums. The interns joined Gettysburg National Military Park ranger (and Gettysburg College alumnus) Christopher Gwinn '06 for a special interpretive program at Barlow's Knoll. Gwinn's program, which used the experiences of the XI Corps troops on July 1, 1863 to explore themes of failure and resilience, was designed to offer students an introduction to the principles of interpretation. After hiking Barlow's Knoll and exploring the XI Corps monuments, students returned to campus to go "under the hood" of the tour with Gwinn and CWI staff members Peter Carmichael, Jill Ogline Titus, and Allison Jordan -- all former NPS interpreters. Over dinner, the group explored pacing, thematic development, interpretive questions, site-specific content, techniques for engaging visitors, and the challenges and opportunities of helping audiences to think historically. By the end of May, eighteen Gettysburg College students will be in the field as Pohanka Interns. Read more about the Brian C. Pohanka Internship Program.
Civil War Institute Fellow Natalie Sherif '14 recently delivered a lecture with CWI Assistant Director Ian Isherwood titled Scissors & Saws: Understanding Nineteenth-Century Surgery. The lecture corresponded with the opening of a new exhibit in Special Collections Reading Room, Slow to Heal: The Evolution of Medicine from the Civil War Era to World War I. The exhibit, curated by Sherif as the 2014 Fortenbaugh Exhibits Intern at Musselman Library, features materials from the library collection as well as items on loan from Isherwood, Angelo Scarlato, and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. It explores the history of medicine from the Civil War through World War I by way of artifacts, letters, photographs, and documents.
Stop by the Special Collections Reading Room in Musselman Library (4th Floor) to view Natalie's great work! The exhibit runs March 17 - August 1, 2014.
Two Civil War Institute fellows, Brianna Kirk '15 and Sarah Johnson '15, were recently named 2014 Mellon Summer Scholars. The prestigious grants will help fund a summer of archival research and writing in collaboration with their respective faculty mentors, Brian Jordan '09 and Ian Isherwood '00.
Jeff Davis, a Sour Apple Tree, and Treason: Fear in the Post-Civil War North
Brianna Kirk '15
The end of the Civil War raised many questions, and one of the thorniest was how to piece the Union back together. After such an unprecedented war, the exact course of how to survive Reconstruction was unknown. Furthermore, the question of what to do with Jefferson Davis, leader of the Confederate rebellion, lingered. While many Union veterans dreamt of "hanging Jeff Davis from a sour apple tree," Northern civilians recoiled in fear, quickly embracing sectional reconciliation and dropping all charges of treason. What would such a high profile trial and execution say about a democracy staggering away from the battlefields of war? Would it destroy the tentative peace, thereby complicating Reconstruction? My project will examine this fear in the immediate post-war period and work to explain why Northerners were so eager to spare Davis from the gallows and forget the four bloody years of war.
Gettysburg & the Great War
Sarah Johnson '15
My research this summer will use the town of Gettysburg as a case study of an average American community at the dawn of the twentieth century and its relationship to the Great War. Dismissed as the tragic and futile Forgotten War, the Unknown Soldier and vague references to red poppies on Veterans Day are not enough to understand a war which laid the foundations for America in the twentieth century. By taking a town like Gettysburg, already so famously and intimately acquainted with war, and drawing out reactions and responses to the Great War, I intend to utilize Gettysburg not only for its unique relationship to war, but also as a snapshot of an American small town at the turn of the century.
Recent Gettysburg College graduate Hannah Grose '13 recently turned her senior capstone project into the Gettysburg Battlefield Community Garden at the Sherfy Farm. After months of coordinating multiple partners -- including the Gettysburg Foundation, National Park Service, the Civil War Institute, and the Center for Public Service -- and researching historic gardens, Grose and a team of volunteers began planing the day after graduation this past May. "When I was choosing a capstone project, I wanted to do something that would have a lasting impact," Grose explained. "I don't know when the line was crossed that this project stopped being about the class and became more about the garden. When I graduated, it was no longer for a grade. It became my job."
The Gettysburg Battlefield Community Garden, however, is more than just a living history project (as all produce grown there is consistent with the Civil War Era); everything grown in the garden is donated to Campus Kitchens, which uses fresh produce to make food for lower income households.
Learn more about Hannah and her work bringing the Sherfy Farm garden back to life.
Author Peter Troy is the winner of the 2013 Michael Shaara Prize. Troy accepted the award on November 19, 2013 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Civil War, May the Road Rise Up to Meet You is a story of four unforgettable characters who, together, illuminate the quintessential American experience.
Ethan McOwen survived the worst of the Irish Famine and made the treacherous crossing to America, but his endurance is tested by the rough neighborhoods of New York until he discovers a passion for photography; Marcella Arroyo arrives from Spain a high-spirited society girl but defies her father to become a devoted abolitionist; and slaves Mary and Micah plot a clandestine escape on a cold Christmas Eve in the hopes of finding a better future. When war brings them all together, it will dramatically change the course of their individual lives.
In 1997, Jeff Shaara, the critically-acclaimed best-selling author, established The Michael Shaara Prize for Excellence in Civil War Fiction. The prize is named in honor of his father, the author of the novel The Killer Angels. In 2005, the Shaara Prize moved to the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. The $5,000 prize is awarded annually in Gettysburg.
Antietam National Battlefield (Sharpsburg, Maryland), Boston African American National Historic Site (Boston, Massachusetts), and Women's Rights National Historical Park (Seneca Falls, New York) into the Brian C. Pohanka Internship Program! These sites will join our existing partners Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Gettysburg National Military Park, Richmond National Battlefield Park, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, Manassas National Battlefield, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Petersburg National Battlefield, Andersonville National Historic Site, and Stratford Hall (Home of the Lees).
In January 2013, CWI Associate Director Jill Ogline Titus will serve as the faculty advisor for a Center for Public Service-sponsored Immersion Trip to Alabama. Over the course of this nine-day trip, Dr. Titus and seven Gettysburg College students will visit some of the sites that played a central role in the 20th-century black freedom struggle: Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church, Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the small towns of Lowndes County, home of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. In addition to exploring the history of civil rights, the group will participate in service projects, spend several nights with host families, and delve into the relationship between the triumphs of the movement and contemporary civil rights issues, including immigration policy, voting rights, economic injustice, and educational policy.
Sponsored by Gettysburg College's Center for Public Service, Immersion Projects offer off-campus, educational service opportunities at sites in the United States and abroad. Students travel to a site where they work and serve in a community different from their own. Each project seeks to foster a dialogue between the College community and the host community around issues of social justice. By working alongside people and sharing their stories, students learn about themselves and the world. For more information about CPS Immersion Trips, please visit the Center for Public Service.
A dozen Gettysburg College students recently returned to campus after a successful summer on the front lines of history, serving as the summer 2012 Brian C. Pohanka Interns. The Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College is pleased to announce that four more sites have joined our growing list of partners hosting Pohanka Interns for the summer of 2013. Petersburg National Battlefield (Petersburg, Virginia), Andersonville National Historic Site (Americus, Georgia), the Civil War Trust (Washington, DC), and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum (Norfolk, Virginia) will all have Pohanka Interns in the field, along with existing partners Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Gettysburg National Military Park, Richmond National Battlefield Park, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, Manassas National Battlefield, Appomattox National Historical Park, and Stratford Hall. These students provide much-needed staffing for the sites they serve, all while gaining invaluable hands-on experience in the field. Interested in applying for an internship at one of these incredible historic sites? Visit our Internships page for details!