#CWI2017: The Adventure Begins

Interim Assistant Director Kevin Lavery ’16 reports on the first day of the 2017 Summer Conference.

By Kevin Lavery ’16

Assistant Director’s Log, Star Date 001:  

It has begun. This afternoon, hundreds of cargo-short-clad Civil War aficionados descended upon the campus of Gettysburg College. Joined by public and academic historians, they are friends old and new who together make up the “student body” of the Civil War Institute’s Annual Summer Conference.

The moment the clock stuck noon, we were flanked by guests eager to sign-in and receive their free #swagbags. After Director Peter Carmichael welcomed the audience, the program opened with Dr. Martin Johnson’s talk on the Gettysburg Address. Following dinner, WWI & WWII historian Dr. Michael Neiberg discussed the features of total war and how to make sense of how nations operate in war time. Dr. Carmichael then sat down with esteemed Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer for a wide-ranging conversation touching on everything from Lincoln to Confederate imagery. We ended the night with our annual ice cream social, made possible by the fine folks at Mr. G’s Ice Cream.

As some of you may know, this year is my first time at our conference. Although I have been involved with CWI as a student since 2013, I was never able to attend our flagship event. Now, I’m here in the professional capacity of interim assistant director in order to assist our staff in making the event enriching for each of our attendees. The other new faces you’ll see on staff are Matt LaRoche, a 2017 Gettysburg College graduate and former CWI Fellow/Pohanka Intern, and Heather Miller, our wonderful administrative assistant. Our returning staff includes Associate Director Jill Ogline Titus and Allison Jordan, who flew up from South Carolina to help make it happen. And, of course, how could I forget our brilliant conference planner Ashley Luskey, who has worked tirelessly to make this week a reality. Without any one of these people, this year’s conference could not have taken place.

I believe it is also important to recognize the groundwork done by so many former members of the Civil War Institute staff. Without the precedent for excellence they established and the detailed plans of action they left us, there would be no #CWI2017. Diane, Ian, Pam, Tina, and Gabor:  Thank you.

To those of you able to grace yourselves with your presence this weekend, we are excited to have you here and to get to know you (and the Civil War) better over the next few days. For those of you reading this from home, we hope you can soon join us at our 2018 conference. Remember, it’s never too early to register. And in the meantime, you can catch the Saturday and Sunday lectures at panels on American History TV starting at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

I hope to post again as the week goes on, but things will be busy. For now–Lavery, signing off.

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