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Music of the Civil War Concert with Commentary at Newberry Library

A concert, Music of the Civil War, will be performed with expert commentary at The Newberry Library on Saturday, March 1, 2014. This concert is being performed in conjunction with the exhibit Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North, which marks the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.

The Newberry Library, as Seen from Washington Square Park on June 5, 2010
Sean M. O'Connor

This exhibit of more than 100 items opened on Friday, September 27, 2013. Its last day is Monday, March 24, 2014, which makes it one of the longest-running exhibits in the research library's history.

“Today, many Americans view war at a great distance, mediated by technology that makes it possible to avoid thinking about how war effects our daily lives,” said Newberry Vice President of Research and Academic Programs and exhibition co-curator Daniel Greene. “This was simply not the case for those who remained at home during the Civil War. This exhibition is designed to help visitors understand the enormous and lasting effect of the Civil War on those who experienced the war at home, as well as on the entire country.”

“American history and culture is a core strength area of our collection and of scholarship pursued at the Newberry for many decades,” said Newberry President David Spadafora. “This is especially true of the Civil War era, which of course is a critical part of the American story. We are very grateful to the Terra Foundation for American Art, whose curatorial expertise, collection, and financial support have made it possible for us to host this important exhibition and related public programming.”

The exhibit includes paintings by Winslow Homer, Frederic E. Church, and other American artists of the period; first editions by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Louisa May Alcott; sheet music from Chicago-based music publishers Root and Cady; and magazine illustrations that depict the changing roles of women and children who supported the war effort. The Newberry Library and the Chicago-based Terra Foundation for American Art co-organized the exhibit, which is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation.

"We’re pleased to partner with the Newberry on this exhibition examining the domestic side of life during the Civil War, an aspect of the era which generally receives less attention than the battlefields,” said Terra Foundation for American Art President & CEO Elizabeth Glassman. “Innovative projects like ‘Home Front’ are crucial to our mission of fostering the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States.”

There is a companion digital exhibit. The University of Chicago Press published a companion book, Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North in September. The retail price for the hardcover is $35, while the retail price range for the eBook is $7 to $30.

The authors are Peter John Brownlee, Sarah Burns, Diane Dillon, the aforementioned Daniel Greene, and Scott Manning Stevens. Award-winning Civil War scholar Adam Goodheart wrote the forward. The exhibition co-curators are Greene and Peter John Brownlee, Associate Curator at the Terra Foundation.

“The exhibition represents a beautiful marriage of objects from two well-regarded Chicago collections to address a subject of critical importance,” Brownlee said. “The pairing of fine and popular arts from the period makes this exhibition unique among others that examine the war and its impact.”

The other three authors are: Sarah Burns, Ruth N. Halls Professor Emerita, History of Art, Indiana University, Bloomington; Diane Dillon, The Newberry Library's Director of Scholarly and Undergraduate Programs; and Scott Manning Stevens, The Newberry Library's Director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies.

Home Front explores the domestic side of life during the Civil War, an aspect of the era which generally receives less attention than the battlefields but nevertheless is crucial to a richer understanding of this important period in United States history,” said Ms. Glassman. “Projects such as this are crucial to our mission of fostering the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States.”

Established in 1978, the Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States. With financial resources of more than $250 million, an exceptional collection of American art from the colonial era to the mid-twentieth century, and an expansive grant program, it is one of the leading foundations focused on American art, and devotes approximately $12 million annually in support of American art exhibitions, projects, and research worldwide.