Later today the University of Virginia’s new Civil War center will open with an inaugural event that will feature Gary Gallagher, Elizabeth Varon, Thavolia Glymph, and Ed Ayers in a roundtable discussion about the state of the field of Civil War history. The center is being funded with a grant from John L. Nau III, who is also the benefactor behind Gallagher’s endowed chair and the center’s director.
As part of their publicity for today’s big event the university interviewed Gallagher about his thirty years of teaching. Student reflections about Gallagher’s talent as a lecturer and teacher resonate with what I heard from a number of my own former high school students in Charlottesville, who went on to take his classes.
The center will also fund a book prize with a cash award of $25,000 for “scholarship devoted to the war itself.” It’s safe to say that this focus reflects Gallagher’s recent reflections about the state of Civil War military history. Two digital history projects, one on POWs and the other on Virginians who served in the Union army, are in progress. It looks like the center is going to be quite active for the foreseeable future.
It’s hard to deny that some of the most talented and productive Civil War historians have come out of UVA’s program. It seems fitting that a center devoted to the Civil War should be located there to encourage the next generation of scholars and to engage in public outreach.