Session Descriptions and Materials

September, Session 1: What Do We Know, and Not Know, about the Civil War?

Book Discussion: Robert Penn Warren, The Legacy of the Civil War

  • Robert Penn Warren, The Legacy of the Civil War                                                                                                                   
  • Drew Gilpin Faust, "Telling War Stories: Reflections of a Civil War Historian"

In this elegant book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer explores the manifold ways in which the Civil War changed the United States forever. He confronts its costs, not only human (six hundred thousand men killed) and economic (beyond reckoning), but also social and psychological.


October, Session 2: Slavery and the Foundations of the Republic

Book Discussion: Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains

  • ·      Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains
  • ·      Emily McCully, The Escape of Oney Judge (read aloud)
  • ·      Excerpts from Richard Beeman, Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution
  • ·      Founding Document: George Washington’s 1799 census of slaves
Set in New York City at the beginning of the American Revolution, Chains addresses the price of freedom both for a nation and for individuals. Isabel tells the story of her life as a slave caught between Loyalists and Patriots. YA Fiction

For brief profiles of the states at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, and the procedure for holding a debate on the issues of slavery, click on the Session 2 heading above and view the attachments.  

November, Session 3: The Sectional Controversy and the Coming of the War

Primary Source Inquiry: Maps and Political Cartoons

  • ·      Primary Sources: Maps and Political Cartoons
  • ·      James McPherson, “And the War Came” and “Escape and Revolt in Black and White”
  • ·      Founding Document: Fugitive Slave Act

This primary source session will look at the sectional controversy and responses to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act.


December, Session 4: Turning Points in the Civil War

Book Discussion: Gettysburg: The Graphic Novel

  • ·     Gettysburg: The Graphic Novel
  • ·     James McPherson, “Why Did the Confederacy Lose?” and “How the Confederacy Almost Won”
  • ·     Founding Documents: Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg Address

Starting with Civil War battle scenes that showcase the fury of battle with a terrifying immediacy and moving through to Lincoln’s address, author/illustrator Butzer brings home the sentiment behind the history-making cemetery dedication with a substance and reality that is very timely. Combining words from actual letters of the time with accessible and expressive art, he introduces young readers to the idea that they may owe something to those who sacrificed all they had for democracy. YA


January, Session 5: Vermont and New Hampshire in the Civil War: Why Did They Fight?

Primary Source Inquiry: Letters  

This primary source session will use letters from the Center for Digital Initiatives new online archives, “Vermonters in the Civil War,” to explore the reasons soldiers left home to fight.


February, Session 6: Vermont and New Hampshire in the War: What were their Experiences?

Primary Source Inquiry: Photographs  

  • ·      Photographs from Donald Wickman, A Very Fine Appearance: The Vermont Civil War Photographs of George Houghton

This primary source session will use historic photographs to explore the lives of soldiers in camp and in battle. Photographs will be drawn from A Very Fine Appearance, recently published by the Vermont Historical Society; and from New Hampshire's Civil War photographer, Henry P. Moore.

Google Presentations





March, Session 7: The South at War

Book Discussion: Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone

Kate Stone was twenty years old when the Civil War began. At the time, she was living with her widowed mother, five brothers, and younger sister in northeastern Louisiana at her family home Brokenburn, a large cotton plantation of 1,260 acres and 150 slaves. During the war Kate and her family lost everything, watched as their way of life was destroyed, and left their home as fugitives to escape the Union Army. Kate kept a diary from 1861 through 1868, in which she recorded her daily experiences.


April, Session 8: What Did the Civil War Mean for America?

Historian lecture: “Legacies of the Civil War,” Robert Bonner, Dartmouth College

Note: Hartford and Claremont will meet at Hartford Middle School on Tuesday; BOTH Dummerston groups will meet at SVCLC on Wednesday.


May, Session 9: Student Work Session