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Center for the Study of the Civil War Era at Kennesaw State University

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Statement of Purpose

CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF THE CIVIL WAR ERA

The Civil War was arguably the most important event in the history of the United States. The conflict fundamentally altered the relationship of the states to the federal government, freed four million slaves, and changed the socio-economic development of the nation. Few states were affected more by this tumultuous period than Georgia. Georgia furnished substantial natural resources, manpower, and political and military leadership to the Southern Republic’s war effort. Important figures such as Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens, General William J. Hardee, and General James Longstreet led the way in the South’s fight for its independence. Critical battles at Dalton, Resaca, Dallas, New Hope Church, and Kennesaw Mountain were fought only a short distance from our own Kennesaw State University. Georgia’s society – men and women, white and black, slave and free – experienced change on a scale never witnessed before or since. However, despite Georgia’s key role in the war, no research center exists in the state where scholars, students, and interested citizens can go to find out about Georgia’s experience in the nation’s greatest calamity.

The Civil War historian in Kennesaw State University’s Department of History and Philosophy recognized this void and secured the support of the College of Humanities and Social Science to begin developing the Center. After nearly a year of planning and designing, the Center for teh Study of the Civil War Era became a functioning unit within the college. Thus, the mission and purpose of the Center is clear: compile and organize key resources and help educate the public on all aspects of the South's role in the Civil War period.

No other event in American history affected the development of the United States more than the Civil War. The Civil War era is defined broadly to include primarily the nineteenth century, yet events before and after are related to the war as well. The nineteenth century witnessed dramatic social, economic, and political changes that reshaped American life and culture. While the Civil War is central to the experience, the decades before and after contain the seeds and bitter harvest of the national ordeal. The Center will, therefore, include resources on the causes, course, and repercussions of the war within the historic South. This region encompasses the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

To summarize, then, the Civil War Center is committed to the following:

  • Emphasizing the key role Georgia and the historic South played in the period
  • Engaging the public through programs and activities
  • Collecting, organizing, and preserving materials that record the events and people who lived during the Civil War era
  • Building relationships with the community to foster enthusiasm and support for the Center
  • Collaborating with local groups in an effort to promote an understanding of how the study of the Civil War period is still relevant to the lives of our citizens today

WHY KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY IS AN
ATTRACTIVE SITE FOR A CIVIL WAR CENTER

The Atlanta area is an ideal location to house such a center because of its transportation networks, historic sites, and the abounding enthusiasm the Civil War generates among the citizens of the state and region. First and foremost an educational repository, the Civil War Center will offer the following advantages to instructors and students in the area:

  • Manuscripts, microfilm and digital versions of primary source documents
  • An extensive library of secondary works on Georgia history and the historic South.
  • Research grants, symposia, and other public outreach projects
  • Teachers’ guides and publications for students (produced by the Institute) on topics such as antebellum Georgia, the historic South, slavery, Civil War in Georgia, and the war-time experiences of African Americans, women, and soldiers
  • Educational videos and DVDs produced by the Center covering important aspects of the
    antebellum historic South and the Civil War
  • Programs produced by the Institute that will be broadcast on public television stations
  • A well developed website maintained by the Center that contains online resources and links to premier Civil War and antebellum South-related sites
  • Online educational resources and online exhibits
  • Regional Civil War tours for students and enthusiasts

KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY’S ROLE

Kennesaw State University is the third largest university out of thirty-five institutions in the University System of Georgia. It supports a growing student population of approximately 20,000 from 132 countries. KSU lies in the center of an area replete with key resources, events, and expertise with which to study Georgia's and the historic South's role in the Civil War. Critical battles at Dalton, Resaca, Dallas, New Hope Church, and Kennesaw Mountain were fought only a short distance from our own KSU, making the university a logical site to house the Civil War Center. Enthusiasm for the period abounds among the citizens of the area, and KSU's proximity to Atlanta, the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, nearby historic Civil War sites, and interstate access will no doubt attract visitors from across the state, region, and country.

The Center will, in both the present and future, enhance KSU's reputation through the following:

  • The Center's collection of primary documents will focus not only on Georgia but also the historic South, making KSU one of the primary history research centers in the Southeast.
  • The publication of teachers' guides, student booklets, an academic journal, and conference proceedings will galvanize the growth of the university press as a significant force for serving the educational needs of the state and region.
  • The Center could aid in the development of a master's program in Southern Studies. Given the Center's resources for the study of the antebellum South, Georgia history, the Civil War, Reconstruction, race relations, and African American history, an MA degree in Southern Studies would be a logical outgrowth.
  • KSU's Public History Program and its students will benefit from the Center's outreach programs, which will offer internship possibilities that would translate into real-world practical applications. Moreover, graduate level courses in collections management, preservation, archival management, and museum administration could be folded into the Southern Studies master's degree, which would enhance the marketability of the majors.
  • A scholarship program will encourage the use of the Center's resources and make KSU a premier destination for bright young minds interested in the Civil War and related subjects.
  • The establishment of a scholars-in-residence program will allow KSU to bring in a different renowned professor every year to teach while conducting research at the Center.

KSU and the College of Humanities and Social Science are committed to supporting the Center through funding from the capital campaign, staffing as needed and budget allows, purchasing of equipment and other materials, and housing for the collection.

Created in 2006, the Center has already generated a flurry of interest and excitement in the area. Fundraising efforts are gaining momentum, and the archival collections are growing rapidly. In its brief tenure, the Center has made great strides in perpetuating its mission to educate the public on the importance of the Civil War to the nation's history.