The Civil War Institute

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"Understanding the Civil War raises difficult questions about a democratic system. We must energize our civic space with informed discussions that are grounded in long historical perspectives.”

- Prof. Peter S. Carmichael, Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies and director of the Civil War Institute

Professor Carmichael leads students in the field.

For many Americans, the Civil War is Gettysburg. Millions of people visit the hallowed grounds surrounding Gettysburg College every year, searching for meaning in a battle whose massive scale and staggering loss of life often defy comprehension.

No academic institution in the country is better suited to encourage Americans, especially young people, to find deep relevance and meaning in Civil War history than Gettysburg College.  For more than two decades the College's Civil War Institute has led an ongoing dialogue among students, general audiences, and professional historians. Those discussions must take on a new direction as we look beyond the Civil War's 150th Anniversary.

Founded in 1982, Gettysburg College’s Civil War Institute (CWI) is widely known for the annual summer conference, bringing scholars, educators, and history enthusiasts from across the globe to campus for a one-week immersion in the Civil War. Under its previous director Gabor Boritt, CWI sponsored or cosponsored educational programs such as Dedication Day observances that mark the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the annual Fortenbaugh Lecture, and the award of the annual Michael Shaara book prize for Civil War fiction. Boritt was honored with the National Humanities Medal in 2008 and retired from the College in 2009, leaving a lasting legacy particularly for public historians, teachers, and ardent Civil War devotees. Prof. Peter S. Carmichael, who succeeded Boritt as Robert Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies and Director of CWI in 2010. is building on Boritt’s record and expanding the CWI’s  educational and public missions. Today CWI is well positioned for a dynamic and innovative next chapter in its own history: to be a nationally renowned center of engaged learning where the students, the public, and educators will advance the study of the Civil War as a usable past.

The Civil War Institute invites teachers from around the country to a summer conference. Learn more.

Critical to this goal is creating partnerships with a range of cultural institutions across the country. These relationships energize the entire academic community, for the reciprocal exchanges of knowledge and experience. Gettysburg College students are given a chance to showcase their talents on “stages” across the country while professionals from these institutions visit campus, participate in workshops, and speak at the CWI conference. Such exchanges promote CWI’s interdisciplinary approach to public interpretation, historic preservation, public policy, teaching, and academic research.