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Washington Voices

Civil War series has family days and talks

Thu., Dec. 15, 2011

Spokane may be far away from the major Civil War battlefields but that doesn’t mean the area lacks Civil War buffs. And many of them can surely be found at this Civil War 150th Anniversary Series at the North Spokane Library.

Ellen Peters, adult services librarian at the North Spokane Library, came up with the idea after being turned down for a Civil War series grant offered by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“We were really disappointed that we didn’t get the grant,” said Peters, “but then we said: Why can’t we still do it and make it our own?”

So they did.

The series follows the same outline as that suggested by the grant givers, but with a few local twists.

“We added the three family events in between the lectures,” said Peters.

Eastern Washington University history professor Michael Conlin came up with the five topics.

“We tried to make it about more than just the historical dates, about more than what you learn in school,” said Peters. “The Civil War was about families, too, about how they lived. Not everyone in the South owned slaves, but they were still loyal to the South.”

Every lecture includes a question-and-answer session and Peters said there have been plenty of questions and discussion at the two first lectures. But there is no need to be intimidated: Anyone is welcome and a lot of prior knowledge is not needed, though it does help to read the recommended book.

“We are committed to programming that is intellectually stimulating, programs that meet people’s needs and bring them in to the library,” said Peters. “And Conlin is so passionate about the Civil War. He is very much an expert on these issues.”

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