The Civil War may be in the past but it's a past that very much influences our present. Here in Beaufort County, it lives in our institutions, our culture, our relationships with others. To understand the Civil War is to better understand ourselves. To foster this understanding, the Beaufort County library system is holding its fourth "One County Reads" series, "One County Reads the Civil War." This accompanies the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History's national traveling "Civil War 150 Exhibit," hosted by the Beaufort District Collection. Last week my colleague wrote about the Civil War 150 exhibit. This week I highlight One County Reads the Civil War programs for all ages at all branch libraries.
Notable among the numerous programs is the "Let's Talk About It Series: Making Sense of the American Civil War." This series includes book discussions by five scholars from around South Carolina. The talks are being held at the Beaufort Branch at 6 p.m. Oct. 3, 8, 10, 17 and 24. The books for the talks are "March," by Geraldine Brooks, "Antietam," by James M. McPherson, and excerpts from "America's War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on the 150th Anniversaries," edited by Edward L. Ayers. The series is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association's Public Programs Office and funded by a grant from the Humanities Council of South Carolina. Those wishing to participate in the discussions can sign up and borrow the books from the Beaufort Branch Reference desk.
There are also panel discussions, music programs, re-enactors and tours. Programs for children include a "Civil War Experience" at the Bluffton library at 4 p.m. Sept. 24; "Civil War Toys" at the Lobeco library at 4 p.m. Sept. 23; "Kids, Teenagers, Pets and Girls: The Unlikely Heroes of the Civil War" at the Hilton Head Island library at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 8; and "Civil War Google Tour" at St. Helena Island library at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 14.
The Friends of the Hilton Head Library continue their Civil War film series throughout September; for more information and titles, call the Hilton Head Island library. The Bluffton library is showing "The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns" at 1 p.m. Saturdays from Sept. 21 through Oct. 19. The St. Helena Island library is showing what is perhaps the most controversial of Civil War films, D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" at 1 p.m. Oct. 12 with a discussion to follow. The following week, at 1 p.m. Oct. 19 watch a documentary that answers Griffith's film, "Midnight Ramble."
The Beaufort County library system is very fortunate to have cooperation from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Library of America, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Beaufort County Historical Society, Arts Council of Beaufort County, Beaufort History Museum, Bluffton Historical Preservation Society, Coastal Discovery Museum, Heritage Library Foundation, Historic Beaufort Foundation, and the Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce that allows us to bring an engaging array of diverse programs to our community. For more information about all programs related to the One County Reads the Civil War series, go to beaufortcountylibrary.org/civilwar or stop by any branch to pick up a fall library events newsletter.
Looking ahead, pencil in "Once Upon a County!" for spring 2015.
Scott Strawn is the youth services coordinator for the Beaufort County library system.