For Immediate Release: 05/29/09
Civil War Preservation Trust Unveils Fully Redesigned, State-of-the-Art Website
New features make CivilWar.org the Web’s greatest resource for Civil War history and preservation efforts
(Washington, D.C.) – Nearly 150 years after America’s Civil War battlefields echoed with the struggle between soldiers in blue and gray, the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) is unveiling its newest weapon in ensuring that those epic struggles are never forgotten. Unveiled today, the national nonprofit organization’s redesigned and expanded website is set to become the Internet’s greatest resource for Civil War history lovers around the world.
“This is a significant milestone in our efforts to promote nineteenth century history using twenty-first century technology,” said CWPT president James Lighthizer. “Harnessing the opportunities presented by the Internet allows us to make the past come alive in ways never before dreamed of. By making history dynamic relevant to new generations of Americans, we hope to instill in them the understanding that the unique landscapes of Civil War battlefields are truly hallowed grounds that need to be preserved.”
The new design for CivilWar.org is meant to better integrate the organization’s wealth of information on Civil War history with its preservation mission. Whether a visitor is a teacher in search of classroom resources, a dedicated buff looking for book recommendations or casual student of history wanting to learn more about a battle or famous commander, CivilWar.org is now among the top online destinations for Civil War enthusiasts.
“CWPT has brought together many of the internet’s best Civil War resources in a one-stop-shop” said author and History Associates senior historian Garry Adelman, who served as an outside advisor during the site’s planning and development. “By mixing traditional assets and new media techniques, this website presents a whole new way to learn about and personalize the Civil War. From textual accounts to maps to images and video, CWPT has covered all the bases.”
Lighthizer readily agreed, ticking off major improvements included in the new website. “We’ve placed our entire collection of signature battle maps online for our members to explore, and integrated outstanding articles by top historians from the pages of Hallowed Ground, our membership magazine,” he said. “We’ve expanded and improved our lesson plan content, reaching out to students and teachers across the country. We have fully integrated our huge catalogue of modern photos and videos of Civil War sites, and much, much more.”
Appropriately for a group dedicated to protecting hallowed ground, the new website is organized around the battlefields themselves. From a central page dedicated to each of the war’s most significant battles, visitors can locate scholarly articles, view pictures, study maps and find other content related to that engagement. After studying what happened in the past, readers can learn about the current state of the battlefield, including what land has been protected and any ongoing preservation efforts at the site.
In addition to greatly expanding the educational materials available online, the new website offers a truly dynamic experience for visitors, with many opportunities to become more involved in the preservation effort. Beyond simply offering a fast, secure and convenient means to donate financially, the website also contains a variety of options for weighing in on preservation efforts, from signing petitions to writing to elected officials. There are also ample opportunities to sign up for e-newsletters and other means of electronic correspondence to stay on top of the latest preservation news.
“Our preliminary uses of this interactive outreach method, notably our advocacy effort surrounding Walmart’s controversial plan to build a supercenter on the Wilderness Battlefield, have been tremendously successful,” said Lighthizer. “Now that we are fully up and running, we are confident that we can harness this new technology to generate more interest than ever in saving our civil war battlefields.”
Recognizing the internet’s ability to create personalized and dynamic experiences for each visitor, CWPT had previously piloted several aspects of the new website, including its popular animated map series and videos captured on tours and other events. These successful ventures are now more prominently featured and greatly expanded, integrating social networking ventures and other resources.
The new CivilWar.org was designed by Threespot, a Washington, D.C.-based interactive communications firm, using the Convio CMS content management system. This software integrates digital and traditional communications channels, fostering a richer and more satisfying relationship between visitors, volunteers, advocates and donors by integrating content into Convio’s email marketing, fundraising and advocacy platform.
“Civil War Preservation Trust has done an exceptional job of creating and launching an online experience that helps members and visitors feel more connected to the cause,” said Hilary Shore, Director, CMS Service for Convio. “The compelling content and calls to action are supported with video and other multimedia to reach a broad and more diverse audience base. From teachers and historians to children and parents, CivilWar.org offers engagement opportunities for a variety of visitors, while empowering the visitors to help direct the next level of engagement. It is a stellar example of what is possible in nonprofit websites.”
“Civil War Preservation Trust is one of those rare clients with great stories to tell, and a leadership team that understands that we connect to issues — and to our history — through story,” said David Belman, founding partner of Threespot. “Civil War Preservation trust and the new site are incredible resources for saving and celebrating the landscapes and settings of our shared stories.”
The Civil War Preservation Trust is a 60,000-member nonprofit battlefield preservation organization. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War sites and promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. Since 1987, CWPT has permanently protected more than 25,000 acres of hallowed ground across the country. CWPT’s website is located at www.CivilWar.org.