The House Divided Project uses Dickinson College as a window and a starting point for a unique focus on the Civil War Era (1840-1880). The college was one of the few institutions of higher education in the country with a student body that was half northern and half southern. Two of its graduates were also two of the most powerful men in the antebellum United States –President James Buchanan (1857-1861) and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (1835-1864). At the center of the House Divided project is a powerful database dubbed the “research engine” which includes more than 10,000 historic images and hundreds of thousands of individual records connected together in an easy-to-use interface designed to help teach students the difference between “search” and “research” (see http://housedivided.dickinson.edu for more details). America’s Civil War magazine has already dubbed the House Divided research engine as “one of the most compelling sesquicentennial online projects.”
To honor the start of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in April 2011, the Directors of the House Divided Project (John Osborne and Matthew Pinsker) have compiled a list of 150 Most Notable Dickinsonians of the era, including graduates, attendees and faculty from the college who proved most influential during the period 1840 to 1880. The list begins with the college's 15 most influential figures in that era of national crisis, ranked in order of importance. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (Class of 1795) tops a list that includes a president, governors, senators, congressmen, soldiers, ministers, scientists, writers, businessmen, and even a Confederate spy who tried to kidnap Abraham Lincoln.
Below the Top 15, visitors will discover all of the 150 Notable Dickinsonians, divided into seven categories: Politics & Government, Church & Faith, Education, Science & Literature, Commerce & Trade, Union Soldiers, and Confederate Soldiers. Each image is clickable and leads to records kept in the House Divided research engine, a growing and innovative resource that provides visitors with an opportunity to find out more about the people who shaped the Civil War era in American history. This list helps reveal the depth of the influence of one small college that still engages the world from its home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, not far from the boundary line between North and South.