CHICAGO — “Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North”
Sept. 27 through March 24
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War and in conjunction with the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Newberry Library will mount “Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North,” an exhibition of more than 100 items that focuses on the enormous, and costly, effect the war had on civilians.
Highlights of the exhibition include 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.
“Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North” is co-organized by the Newberry and the Terra Foundation for American Art. The exhibition is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.
“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 and Chief Executive Officer 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.”
“Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North” will be open from Sept. 27 through March 24, 2014, making it one of the longest running exhibitions in the Newberry’s 126-year history.
The exhibition will comprehensively examine the culture of the Northern home front through visual materials that illustrate the war’s influence on household and the cotton economies; the ways in which the absence of young men from the home changed daily life; how war relief work linked home fronts and battle fronts; why Indians on the frontier were pushed out of the riven nation’s consciousness during the war years; and how wartime landscape paintings illuminated the nation’s past, present and future.
Throughout the exhibition’s duration, the Terra Foundation and the Newberry will host a series of Civil War-related programs and events, including:
A Veterans’ Day salute to military spouses: The Newberry and the Terra Foundation welcome Chicago-area families who constitute today’s “Home Front.” The event includes brunch, a brief program, live Civil War-era music, and curator-guided tours of the exhibition.
This program is set for Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.
“Conversations at the Newberry” with David Blight and Doug Wilson: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Blight and Wilson will discuss the language and rhetoric of President Lincoln and Frederick Douglass Nov. 21.
Art History with John Davis: “Race and Battlefield: Seeing and Not Seeing the Civil War” will be presented Jan. 16 at 6 p.m.
Music of the Civil War: Performance of period music from exhibition with expert commentary March 1.
Additional programming includes monthly curator gallery talks and a series of related adult seminars. With the exception of the Veterans’ Day event, all programs are free and open to the public, and require no advance registration.
“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.”
In conjunction with the exhibition opening, the University of Chicago Press will publish a companion volume to “Home Front,” which will be the first book to explore the visual culture of a world far removed from the horror of war, yet intimately bound to it (http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/H/bo16302347.html). The book includes a foreword by award-winning Civil War scholar Adam Goodheart and essays by five humanities scholars, including exhibition co-curators Greene and Peter John Brownlee, associate curator at the Terra Foundation.
The other three book authors are: Sarah Burns, professor of art history emeritus, Indiana University, Bloomington; Diane Dillon, director of scholarly and undergraduate programs, the Newberry; and Scott Manning Stevens, director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies, the Newberry.