BATAVIA – The commemoration years marking the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War may be coming to an end, but its legacy will live on. Beginning April 1st and running through April 17th, the Genesee Community College Alfred O’Connell Library will host a new retrospective exhibit honoring the college’s Civil War Initiative and spotlighting the substantial Civil War-related holdings of the library.
Begun in 2011, the Civil War Initiative was the creation of Derek Maxfield, Assistant Professor of History at GCC. The Initiative would go on to sponsor over 60 public lectures in four counties with some high profile guests like Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner and Stephen Henderson from the movie Lincoln. Each year CWI also sponsored a Civil War Encampment and Living History Weekend first in Lima and in Medina for the past few years. This year’s encampment weekend will be held at GCC’s Medina Campus Center on Maple Ridge Road April 25 - 26. To view the schedule of events and keep up on all events sponsored by CWI, go to: http://www.civilwaratgcc.wordpress.com/.
The Alfred O’Connell Library has been an important part of CWI since its inception. National travelling exhibits from the Gilder Lehrman Institute and the National Library of Medicine were popular additions to CWI. In October 2012, the library hosted “Abraham Lincoln: A Man of His Time, A Man for All Times.” On a visit to the college that fall, historian Eric Foner offered remarks about the exhibit, which he had helped to create. In September and October 2013, “Life and Limb: The Toll of the American Civil War” was the featured exhibit. A reminder of the physical costs of war, the exhibit was supplemented with 19th century medical artifacts from the Potera Collection and a life-sized diorama of a Civil War field hospital.
This year’s exhibit, “It Lives On” will feature artifacts prominent in the four-year history of the Civil War Initiative, including Capt. Erwin Bowen’s sword used in a special ceremony in Medina during the Encampment parade and a sword from the Holland Land Office and Museum Collection. In 2012, as part of the annual parade through downtown Medina on the weekend of the Civil War Encampment, organizers recreated a scene that transpired in 1862 when Company D of the 28th New York Volunteer Infantry went off to war. At that time the soldiers paraded down Main Street to the Railroad Depot, stopping at the corner of Main and Center Streets for a ceremony in which the ladies of Medina presented Capt. Bowen with a sword. In 2012 Union reenactors followed the same route and the ceremony featured Capt. Bowen’s great-granddaughter Mary Robinson presenting the very same sword to Simon Taylor, who was portraying Bowen. The sword from the Holland Land Office is an ornate officer’s sword which was used in the ribbon-ceremony opening the Lincoln exhibit in 2012.
In addition to the artifacts, the library will be spotlighting its extensive Civil War holdings including books, DVDs of Civil War lectures, and a substantial collection of military records from the war. These last are a marvelous window into the lives of the men who served. Pension records in particular demonstrate that even those who survived the conflict came home different men.
The exhibit is FREE and open to the public during regular library hours which are:
Alfred C. O’Connell Library Spring Hours:
Monday –Thursday: 7:30 am – 9:30 pm
Friday: 7:30 am – 4:30 pm
Saturday: 12:00 – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 – 6:00 pm
Please note: The library will be closed on Sunday, April 5, 2015.
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