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Boston Teacher Institute

The Boston Teacher Institute was held October 8 and 9, and it was a complete success. Forty teachers from twelve states participated in the event, and we received almost exclusively positive feedback from our attendees. Blessed for the weekend with near-perfect weather, the teachers enjoyed a walk, led by NPS Ranger Dana Smith, on the Black Heritage Trail; a ferry ride to Georges Island for a living-history tour of Fort Warren and talks from the Massachusetts Historical Society and Christopher Samito. The teachers also participated in group workshops, devising their own lesson plans based on the Civil War Trust's curriculum. It was once again inspiring to see teachers from all over the New England region and beyond come together in the name of Civil War education. Check out our pictures of the event, and consider attending a Teacher Institute in the future! The next two will be held in Los Angeles and Chicago.

See photos from the institute »

From the Educators

October 2011
Dear Civil War Educator and Preservationist,

It has been just over one year since I started working in the education department at the Civil War Trust. In that time, I've had the privilege of meeting many of you at Teacher Institutes in Gettysburg, Nashville and, most recently, Boston. I've shipped many of you sets of 3-D glasses and curricula, booked the Traveling Trunk for your classrooms and listened to many encouraging stories of student fundraising efforts. It's clear that Civil War education in America is in good hands...

I've also enjoyed hearing the different ways that you instruct students in the complex historical questions and moral nuances of the era. The Civil War Trust and teachers form a symbiotic relationship; the Trust can never be successful in its ultimate mission without the help of teachers like you. If the goal of the Trust is to bequeath this country's historic landscapes to the next generation, we hope that one of your goals as an educator will be to help foster an understanding in the next generation of why that land matters; why it was preserved in the first place.

We will continue our efforts to improve the educational resources at civilwar.org, and we hope that you will continue to utilize them, and to impart your passion for the Civil War to your students. Please help us spread the word about the Civil War Trust, and help us get more teachers on this e-mail list!

Thank you for your support, in all its forms.


Clayton Butler, Education Assistant


Documentary Photography Comes of Age on the Peninsula

Documentary photography

Learn more about the iconic documentary photographs taken in the 1862 Peninsula Campaign.

See the article »


Civil War Ballooning -- Seven Days Campaign


Learn more about the rich aeronautical history of the Seven Days -- see how balloons impacted the campaign.

Read the article »


The Accidental Battle of Ball's Bluff

Ball's Bluff

Historian Jim Morgan describes the bloody Battle of Ball's Bluff, a battle that just commemorated its 150th anniversary.

Read the Piece »


The Civil War Poetry of Herman Melville


Take a look at our small collection of Herman Melville Civil War poems in our History Center. Many people are familiar with Walt Whitman's work during this period, but Melville was just as prolific. A great way to teach English and History!

'"Yonder--see--are our Georgians; on the crest,
The Carolinians; lower, past the glen,
(Follow my finger)--Tennesseeans; and the ten
Camps there--ask your grave-pits; they'll tell.
Halloa! I see the picket-hut, the den
Where I last night lay." "Where's Lee"
"In the hearts and bayonets of all yon men!"'

Read the Armies of the Wilderness »


October Civil War Battles

October Civil War battles

Expand your knowledge of the Civil War by learning more about some of the great Civil War battles that occurred this month. Access our history articles, photos, maps, and links for the battles listed below:

Ball's Bluff »
Corinth »
Perryville »
Bristoe Station »
Cedar Creek »
Mine Creek »


Book of the Month

Nurse, Soldier, Spy

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: the story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero
By Marissa Moss. New York: Abrams, 2011.

When Union soldier Frank Thomson was asked to accept a dangerous assignment as a spy, he did not hesitate. "I'm your man," Frank said. But there was one problem: Frank was not a man. Frank was a woman. Sarah Edmonds had been masquerading as Frank Thomson for three years, a disguise she first adopted in order to escape an arranged marriage. She enlisted in the Union Army, passing for a young teenage boy, and she did her share of fighting in major battles before working as a nurse. She knew no fear as a spy, disguising herself as a freed slave, infiltrating a Confederate camp and studying the layout of fortifications.

Using Edmond's autobiography as her source, Moss briefly traces Edmond's transformation from a young woman to enlisted man, teasingly called "our little woman" by the regiment. Moss focuses with more detail on Edmond's spying missions and young readers will be impressed with her bravery as she risked her life to gather information for the Union. John Hendrix's illustrations are the perfect counterpoint to the text, providing excitement through the use of various hand-drawn typography -- based on actual Civil War broadside posters -- which highlight the narrative as well as becoming part of it. Hendrix deftly illustrates Edmonds, drawing her convincingly as Thomson yet retaining a hint of her identity as Edmonds. Two of Hendrix's illustrations from this book were selected for a juried exhibit for American Illustration. Both the narrative and illustrations succinctly capture the reader's interest in this unusual story of a woman who subverted the era's social expectations of women. In the author's notes, Moss explains that Edmonds was able to keep her disguise until 1863, when she dressed as a woman and slipped out of camp in order to be treated for malaria by a civilian doctor, never again to reassume the identity of Frank Thomson. Highly recommended for younger students.

Special thanks to Rosanne Zajko for her book reviews! If you have a Civil War book that you particularly like, or would like to review for this newsletter, send it in to education@civilwar.org. Thanks!

Purchase Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero »

See More Book Reviews »


Trivia from the Archives

Trivia from the Archives

Q. In October, 1861, at Carondelet, Missouri, this vessel became the first ironclad launched in the U.S. Navy.

Q. In October, 1861, at the Battle of Ball's Bluff, this sitting U.S. Senator and personal friend of Abraham Lincoln was killed in action.

Answers from the Archives »


Civil War on the Web

  • Looking at the Civil War: Massachusetts Finds Her Voice
    This monthly feature showcases Civil War-era materials from the Massachusetts Historical Society's rich collections. Examine a selection from the Society's collection of unique manuscript and visual materials that conveys how the people of Massachusetts experienced the war in that month 150 years ago! In this month's selection, a Massachusetts native relates his experience of the Battle of Ball's Bluff.
  • Massachusetts' 54th Regiment
    Web presentation of photographs and a few broadsides relating to the first black regiment that fought in the Civil War. From the Massachusetts Historical Society
  • Morgan's Raid Game
    Check out this fun and educational game created by history students at Ball State in Indiana about John Hunt Morgan's infamous raid in that state, the northernmost of the war.

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