Civil War Sesquicentennial: Virginia Leading the Way

Cheryl Jackson, Executive Director of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, outlines Virginia’s plans for commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Virginia is ready for the sesquicentennial and invites you to join in! With strong state support, well-developed initiatives and partnerships, and a comprehensive approach that includes multiple perspectives of the Civil War and Emancipation, Virginia leads the nation in the sesquicentennial commemoration.

Programs began in 2009 with an inaugural Signature Conference at the University of Richmond; an event marking the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s Raid; and the production of an Emmy-nominated DVD, Virginia in the War: A Sesquicentennial Remembrance, which was distributed to every public school in the state.

In 2010, the acclaimed Signature Conference series continued at Norfolk State University, and the Civil War 150 Legacy Project: Document Digitization and Access began statewide. In the coming weeks, more about these programs will appear in this space. Highlights are below and complete information can be found at

First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run: 150th Anniversary Commemorative Event (July 21)

The Commission and the National Park Service will co-host a 150th Anniversary Commemorative event at the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Speakers will explore not only the legacy of the battle but also the tremendous opportunities of the sesquicentennial. Scheduled speakers include Governor Robert F. McDonnell and Edward L. Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and award-winning historian of the American South.

Major Gallery Exhibition: An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia

The Virginia Historical Society opened a major exhibition, An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia, on February 4, 2011. A Signature Project of the Commission, the exhibition is divided into two sections, “Surviving War” and “Waging War,” and features more than 200 objects and state-of-the-art audiovisual programs. After its run at the Virginia Historical Society, the exhibition will travel over the next three years to museums in Roanoke, Abingdon, Lynchburg, Winchester, Quantico, Hampton, and Appomattox.

Civil War 150 HistoryMobile

A museum exhibition housed in a 53-foot tractor-trailer, the Civil War 150 HistoryMobile will make its debut on July 21, 2011 in Manassas and then travel throughout Virginia and beyond, drawing audiences to events and activities in the Commonwealth. Developed in partnership with the National Park Service and the Virginia Historical Society, the HistoryMobile will include a battlefront immersion experience and will examine the war on the home front; slavery and freedom; and explore the losses, gains, and legacy of the Civil War.

Civil War 150 Legacy Project: Document Digitization and Access

The Commission and the Library of Virginia are partnering to identify and locate original manuscript material concerning the Civil War and Emancipation, including letters, photographs, diaries, maps, and other Civil War-era materials. Teams of archivists travel the state to scan privately-held manuscript material, documenting it and making it available to researchers for generations to come.

Civil War in Virginia: Walk In Their Footsteps App

A new web resource and app will enable people to see the places where their ancestor’s regiment — Union or Confederate — served in Virginia during the Civil War, and then to plan visits to those sites, including printing a “Battle Plan.”

Signature Conference Series

The Commission has developed a Signature Conference series that features some of the nation’s finest historians. While each conference stands on its own, taken as a whole, the series addresses the full spectrum of Civil War history.

2009: America on the Eve of the Civil War

2010: Race, Slavery and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History and Memory

2011: Military Strategy in the American Civil War

2012: Leadership and Generalship in the Civil War

2013: The Home Front in the Civil War

2014: Civil War in a Global Context

2015: Memory of the Civil War

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum