Civil War Commemoration in Knoxville April 30-May 1

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The multi-year initiative to preserve and commemorate Tennessee’s Civil War history will culminate during the 2015 Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event “Reconstruction Tennessee” April 30-May 1 in Knoxville. The event is free and will feature keynote addresses, symposiums, educational seminars, tours of historic sites, and more. Knoxville’s Blue & Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee will take place April 30-May 3.

Reconstruction Tennessee is a workshop open to K-12 teachers 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET April 30 at the East Tennessee Historical Society. Participants will learn a wealth of information including the number of Civil War-related collections available through the Library of Congress website, strategies, and activities on how to incorporate these resources in the classroom. The workshop is sponsored by the Middle Tennessee State University Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources and the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

The keynote speaker for the event will be Dr. Caroline E. Janney, professor of history at Purdue University 7 p.m. ET April 30 at The Bijou Theatre. Janney’s book, “Remembering the Civil War,” examines how the war generation crafted and protected memories of the nation’s greatest conflict. A special music performance by the internationally-acclaimed Fisk Jubilee Singers will also take place. The keynote and the musical performance are sponsored by The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, Visit Knoxville, and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

As part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a team of professional archivists, curators and conservators from the Tennessee State Library and Archives will be on-hand 2-6 p.m. ET April 30 and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET May 1 at the East Tennessee Historical Society to digitize privately-owned Civil War manuscripts, artifacts, and photographs from Tennessee citizens and visitors free of charge as part of the Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee Project.

The next generation of Tennessee historians will receive a special experience when they participate in educational programming during the Civil War Student Tours & Living History Picnic 9-11:30 a.m. ET May 1 at various historic sites including the Blount Mansion and Civil War Gateway, East Tennessee Historical Society Museum, Mabry-Hazen House, and the Historic Ramsey House Plantation among others. Student groups will have lunch with historical characters, Civil War soldiers, and mid-19th century baseball players at the World’s Fair Park. Local stories will be shared as well as documents, objects, images, and historic structures.

The Official Sesquicentennial commemoration will bring together the state’s history representatives and legislatures 10-11:30 a.m. ET May 1 at the Knoxville Convention Center. Those to attend include Tennessee State Historian Dr. Carroll Van West, Representative Joe Armstrong, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, and Renee Kessler, executive director of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has been invited to present special remarks at the commemoration. The Tennessee National Guard, Company A 13th United States Colored Troops, and Sons of Confederate Veterans will conduct the Posting of the Colors.

The “Reconstruction Tennessee” Speaker Symposium will take place 1-2:30 p.m. ET May 1 at the Knoxville Convention Center. Speakers Todd Groce, Luke Harlow, Bobby L. Lovett, and Tracy McKenzie will conduct a discussion on Reconstruction Tennessee. A book signing with authors will follow the event. The speaker symposium is sponsored by The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

The Blue & Gray Reunion & Freedom Jubilee is a ticketed event sponsored by Knox County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, the East Tennessee Historical Society, and Visit Knoxville April 30-May 3 in Knoxville. The event will feature a plethora of activities including a Blue & Gray dinner, tours of Civil War forts, historic homes and cemeteries, an 1860s base ball game, a Civil War Exposition, fireworks, and period church services. A “Peace Jubilee” will reunite former Unionists and Confederates as one nation and recognize descendants. For more information on the Jubilee, call 865-215-8824, visit, or e-mail

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