Public Programs

For nearly 40 years, the annual CWI Summer Conference has brought leading historians and public audiences together for engaging lectures, battlefield tours, small group discussions, and roundtable conversations. Each year’s conference features a wide range of topics, tours, and small group sessions offering something for everyone, from longtime students of the Civil War to those who are new to Civil War history. The program changes each year, so attendees can return year after year and always experience something different. See what sets the conference apart, and what you can expect as an attendee.

Beginning in Summer 2024, CWI's summer programming has expanded to also include a Young Civil War Historians Conference for rising high school juniors and seniors. This six day program offers participants an opportunity to practice the skills of a historian: using original historical documents, battlefield landscapes, Civil War artifacts, and commemorative pieces like monuments and memorials as “sources” for drawing conclusions about the Battle of Gettysburg, and the Civil War more broadly. One of the highlights of the camp is a trip to Washington, DC. to explore the official records of Civil War regiments held in the National Archives.

A group posing for a picture

The Robert Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture – presented annually on November 19, the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address – connects audiences to cutting-edge scholarship on Civil War history, broadening and deepening public understanding of this most transformative of American conflicts. The first Fortenbaugh Lecture was delivered in 1962 by the legendary Bruce Catton, who has been followed over the years by other pathbreaking scholars such as David Herbert Donald, John Hope Franklin, C. Vann Woodward, Catherine Clinton, Drew Gilpin Faust, Eric Foner, David Blight, Thavolia Glymph, and James & Lois Horton.

A group at the tour

In addition to these  seminal programs, the Civil War Institute also offers a range of one-time or occasional programs, such a Fall Field Program on the Gettysburg battlefield; the Finding the Source virtual discussion series with historians; and an assortment of other in-person and virtual events. CWI also connects with audiences through digital initiatives such as Killed at Gettysburg, a student-authored site devoted to telling the stories of men killed or mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg. The project’s focus on exploring the layered experiences and legacies of individual soldiers provides both student researchers and readers alike a new lens to understand the unifying threads that bound Civil War armies together, as well as the unique, human nuances of soldiers’ life stories and experiences that shaped the wide-ranging meaning and impact of this seminal battle.

A group at the conference

In partnership with Musselman Library Special Collections & College Archives, CWI is also building a collection devoted to understanding the ways that Civil War history is remembered and passed on. The new Civil War Commemoration, Interpretation, and Battlefield Preservation Collection includes an array of photographs and artifacts documenting 150th anniversary commemoration of the battle of Gettysburg in July 2013, as well as a range of oral history interviews about the Gettysburg Foundation, No Casino Gettysburg, and the preservation efforts of Civil War battlefield sites.