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Student-Curated Civil War Exhibition To Open April 24 at Wilson Library

drummerboy_cropGallery Tour: Imagining the U.S. Civil War, 1861-1900
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Wilson Special Collections Library
5 p.m. Reception | Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room, Wilson Library
5:30 p.m. Program | Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room, Wilson Library

Free and open to the public
Information: Liza Terll, Friends of the Library, (919) 548-1203

UNC undergraduates will provide a gallery tour of the exhibition Imagining the U.S. Civil War, 1861-1900 when it opens on April 24 at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library. The students, members of an American literature seminar, curated the exhibition as a semester-long class project.

The 5:30 p.m. event in the Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room is free and open to the public.

Students will explain and provide context for the items they selected and researched. Among the items on view will be The Woman in Battle, Loreta Janeta Velazquez’s 1876 memoir about fighting in the Civil War disguised as a man, and an 1862 poem, “Sinking of the Cumberland,” which describes an early instance of modern naval warfare.


L to R: Students Hannah Wallace and Sarah Rabon receive advice from conservator Andrea Knowlton.

To develop the exhibition, the 21 students in the class worked in groups organized around themes such as “Battlefields,” “African-American Literature,” and “Women at War.” The groups selected poetry, fiction, images, and other materials from Wilson Library’s Rare Book Collection, North Carolina Collection, and Southern Historical Collection, and the Special Collections at the Health Sciences Library.

They then researched the materials with the support of Eliza Richards, associate professor of English; English department graduate research consultant Leslie McAbee; and UNC librarians. With guidance from the Library’s conservation and exhibition professionals, the students finalized their selections and wrote the labels describing the items and their topics.

“Their work in Wilson Library has connected the students with this moment in history on a material level,” said Rare Book Research Librarian Emily Kader. Unlike many traditional classroom assignments, she said, “their research and writing will provide education and enjoyment to real readers and viewers.”

“I have never seen students working so intensively and enthusiastically, with such impressive results,” said Professor Richards. “This class has been an enormous pleasure and an amazing learning adventure for us all.”

Imagining the U.S. Civil War, 1861-1900 will be on view in Wilson Library’s Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room through July 20, 2014.

For exhibition information, contact Wilson Library at (919) 962-3765 or

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