Next Tuesday, April 12, marks the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Nationwide, historical societies and other historical and cultural preservation organizations are commemorating the Civil War from April 12, 2010, to April 9, 2015, with a variety of events, exhibits, and programs. The Minnesota Historical Society is no exception.
This Saturday, April 9, is Civil War Flag Day at the Minnesota State Capitol. In 2009, twenty-one historic Civil War and Spanish-American War flags were moved from the State Capitol to the History Center textile labs for a major conservation effort. Funded by a Save America’s Treasures grant in partnership with the Institute of Museums and Library Services and the National Park Service, the Tawani Foundation, and citizens from the State of Minnesota, these flags have been carefully cleaned, documented, and stitched to specially prepared mounts to allow visitors to see each one fully unfurled. The flags had been displayed at the capitol since its dedication in 1905.
The first four flags to go on display are the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the Third Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and the First Minnesota Light Artillery, all from the Civil War, and the Thirteenth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment from the Spanish-American War. Related Civil War artifacts from the Minnesota Historical Society’s collections also will be on display. The event will feature period music, a fife and drum procession with a color guard of Civil War and Spanish-American War reenactors, guest speakers, and free general and Civil War-themed tours of the capitol. Flag conservators also will be on hand to demonstrate the conservation process and answer visitor questions, and children’s activities will be offered throughout the afternoon. Additional flags conserved in the project will be placed on display on a rotating basis, with flags being changed every six to eight months.
On Tuesday, April 12, Hamp Smith, editor of Brother of Mine: The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie, will be the guest speaker at the Minnesota History Center’s History Lounge event at 7:00 p.m. The Christie letters are a treasured part of MHS collections. Hamp Smith is a reference librarian at the MHS and an expert in Civil War and military history. Please join us; the event is free and open to the public.
The Minnesota Historical Society’s collections department has also started a Civil War Daybook blog featuring history as it happened day by day 150 years ago. Minnesotans on the home front and on the battlefield lived through a tumultuous four years. See what MHS staff found in the collections to tell these stories.
Stay tuned for more Civil War sesquicentennial events with MHS Press authors over the next four years.