Civil War history lives at Virginia Tech. From its home in Virginia Tech’s History Department, the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies promotes greater understanding of the Civil War era among academics and the public. Whether you’re a student or a professional historian, a serious history buff or someone who just likes to learn, we have something to offer you.
First announced in March of 1999, the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies is a legacy of Virginia Tech’s Dr. James I. “Bud” Robertson. Prior to arriving at Virginia Tech, Dr. Robertson was already widely recognized, as he had worked with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson as the Executive Director of the Civil War Centennial Commission. He arrived at Virginia Tech in 1967, where his Civil War history class attracted students from a variety of fields. Inspired by Dr. Robertson’s success, Virginia Tech decided to establish a Civil War Center dedicated to education and book and document preservation. The Center also continued programs which Dr. Robertson had established long before, including the annual “Civil War Weekend” conference.
In 2000, William C. “Jack” Davis came to Virginia Tech to serve as the Center’s Director of Programs. Together, they expanded the Center’s offerings to include a great range of programs, including lectures, digital learning projects, book series, documentaries, and graduate scholarships. After Dr. Robertson retired in 2011, Davis led the center until his own retirement in 2013. Today, the Center is run by Dr. Paul Quigley. Under his direction, it continues to provide scholarships and fellowships and sponsors a variety of public and academic programs throughout the year.
Our scholarship and fellowship programs are shaping the future of Civil War history, attracting talented MA students, postdoctoral fellows, and researchers to Virginia Tech. The center also sponsors international conferences on cutting-edge themes such as citizenship and postwar reconciliation.
We bring the best of Civil War history to public audiences in Blacksburg and beyond. The popular Civil War Film Series screens movies old and new, providing opportunities to discuss their historical contexts with expert speakers. Our annual Civil War Weekend attracts alumni and other history lovers to Blacksburg to hear from some of the best Civil War speakers around. And lectures throughout the year explore Civil War history in its many dimensions, from military history to the war’s international impact, from women’s experiences during the war to the lasting legacies of Reconstruction.
We are also proud to bring history into classrooms throughout Montgomery, Giles, and Roanoke Counties with our Traveling Trunk of Civil War History. The Trunk contains historic artifacts and objects of the Civil War, including clothing, tools, images, and other objects that bring Civil War history to life for young audiences. We also offer the Civil War Driving Tour of Southwest Virginia for people of all ages, allowing both residents and visitors a means of discovering our area’s history.
The center is also bringing Civil War history into the digital age. Online projects include the Essential Civil War Curriculum, a free encyclopedia of all things Civil War; a crowdsourced digital archive revealing the many ways nineteenth-century Americans celebrated the Fourth of July; and Civil War Sources, a guide to the many collections of digitized primary sources available online. Please visit our Programs and Projects page to learn more about all of these projects, as well as many more!
At the interface of academic and public history, the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies is dedicated to fostering creative new conversations about America’s defining conflict.