2024 Wert Lecture with Harold Holzer

 
 

On Thursday evening, March 28, 2024, prize-winning author and acclaimed historian Harold Holzer will deliver the annual J. Howard Wert Lecture from the lectern that was on the speaker’s platform on November 19, 1863 when Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.  Holzer will speak on “Lincoln and Immigration,” the topic of his latest book.  This event is free and open to the public and will be held at the Stern Great Room (campus map).  Doors open at 6pm for those who would like to view the lectern and other rare artifacts from the Gettysburg battlefield and Lincoln’s political career.  Holzer’s lecture begins at 7pm and will continue until 8pm with a book signing to follow.  The first 50 students who arrive will receive free, signed copies of Brought Forth on This Continent:  Abraham Lincoln and American Immigration (Dutton, 2024).

High school students participating in Dickinson’s innovative Knowledge for Freedom summer seminar will also be receiving free signed copies of Holloway’s book.  The Knowledge for Freedom program is designed especially to help get low-income or first-generation college students ready for college.  From July 14-26, 2024, rising high school seniors from around the region will be participating on campus in this free residential experience that includes field trips to Gettysburg and Washington, DC.  Deadline for applicants is May 31, 2024.  (To learn more, go to the course website).

This event will be videotaped and livestreamed


 

Holzer

HAROLD HOLZER, winner of The 2015 Gilder-Lehrman Lincoln Prize, is one of the country’s leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. A prolific writer and lecturer, and frequent guest on television, Holzer served for six years (2010–2016) as Chairman of The Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. For the previous 10 years he co-chaired the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC), appointed by President Clinton. President Bush awarded Holzer the National Humanities Medal in 2008. Holzer serves as The Jonathan F. Fanton Director of CUNY / Hunter College’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute.  Holzer has authored, co-authored or edited more than 55 books.  His latest book is Brought Forth on This Continent:  Abraham Lincoln and American Immigration (Dutton, 2024). 

 


The J. Howard Wert Lecture is named in honor of J. Howard Wert (1841-1920), one of America’s great private collectors and pioneering educators.  Wert was a young abolitionist and resident of Adams County, Pennsylvania who was present when Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address in 1863.  The House Divided Project launched this annual lecture series in 2019 in partnership with the J. Howard Wert Collection and its current owner and curator, G. Craig Caba.  Previous Wert Lecturers include Christy Coleman, former CEO of the American Civil War Museum, noted Military historian Eric Wittenberg (Class of 1983), and Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway.


Background on the Collection

lectern

Lectern from Gettysburg cemetery dedication, 1863 (Courtesy of J. Howard Wert collection)

The J. Howard Wert Collection is considered one of the finest privately held collections of Civil War era artifacts in the country.  Wert came from a prominent antislavery family in Adams County, Pennsylvania.  The Wert family collected a number of important historical artifacts, dating back to the 18th century. Wert himself was a graduate of Gettysburg College who served as a scout for Union forces during the 1863 battle and was present for the Gettysburg Address later that year.  Wert eventually enlisted in the Union army and became a teacher, author and noted school superintendent in Harrisburg.  He died in 1920.  During his lifetime, however, he was renowned for his collection of  important historical artifacts.   A 1910 newspaper profile claimed that Wert “had gathered a collection of relics at Gettysburg that could not be duplicated in any museum in the country.”  In his own Gettysburg battlefield guide, which had been published in 1886 when he was forty-six years old, Wert wrote about how his collection of relics inspired him to try to recount the conflict for future generations:

 

As these lines are penned, from the walls around, cartridge-box and cap-box, bayonet and sword, canteen and canister, with a hundred other relics gleaned twenty-three years ago from the fields and woods we are now traversing, look mutely down upon the writer and vividly recall the sorrowful appearance of the bloated and distorted and blackened dead that lay close beside; noble, stalwart men were they, arrayed in garb of gray, who had bravely fought for what they deemed the right. (J. Howard Wert, A complete hand-book of the monuments and indications and guide to the positions on the Gettysburg battlefield, 1886, pp. 109-110)


Dedication Day, November 19, 1863

Lincoln

Lincoln, hatless, on speaker’s platform while Everett is speaking (Library of Congress)

There are no eyewitness accounts or photographs from 1863 that actually depict the lectern or the chairs on the speaker’s platform.  However, the photographs that do exist make very clear that the scene was more than a little chaotic and that most of the standing crowd would have had a limited view beyond the shoulder line of the speakers.  Many of those present at the ceremony were impressed that the main orator Edward Everett seemed to have memorized his two-hour address, and some near the platform also remarked on how Lincoln slowly read his now much-more famous two-minute address, but few took note of other physical details from the platform itself.  Yet, J. Howard Wert, then 22 years old, was definitely present at the ceremony.  So was his friend, Henry Eyster Jacobs, a 19-year-old fellow graduate of Pennsylvania (later Gettysburg) College.  His father, Michael Jacobs, was also there, and was at the time a professor at the college, writing a history of the battle.  In fact, Prof. Jacobs had taken Everett on a tour of the battlefield in the days prior to the dedication ceremonies.  We know this because Edwards himself mentioned the tour in his diary.  Then, according to notes in the Wert Collection prepared decades later by J. Howard Wert, it was Professor Jacobs who provided his teaching lectern for the ceremony, along with at least one side chair, that was used by Everett, the former Massachusetts governor and U.S. senator while he was waiting to speak.  These notes (previously unpublished), and various other relevant primary sources, including recollections by Wert and both Jacobs men, are provided below.

Wert note

Courtesy of the J. Howard Wert Collection

Chair note

Courtesy of the J. Howard Wert Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Constitution Day with Amanda Frost and John Jones

Event posterTo commemorate Constitution Day in 2023, Dickinson College will feature President John E. Jones III, a retired federal judge, in a wide-ranging constitutional conversation with noted legal historian Amanda Frost from the University of Virginia. Jones and Frost will discuss how various landmark cases and developments from the American past have helped shape several recent controversies in citizenship and immigration law.  This program is sponsored by the House Divided Project and the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues.

The conversation will take place on Tuesday, September 26, 2023 from 7pm to 815pm in the ATS auditorium on the Dickinson College campus.  The first 40 students who arrive at ATS will receive a free signed copy of Frost’s recent book: You Are Not American: Citizenship Stripping from Dred Scott to the Dreamers (Beacon Press, 2021).


 


Photo of Amanda Frost

Amanda Frost is the John A. Ewald Jr. Research Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law.  She writes and teaches in the fields of immigration and citizenship law, federal courts and jurisdiction, and judicial ethics. Her scholarship has been cited by over a dozen federal and state courts, and she has been invited to testify on the topics of her articles before both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. Her most recent book, You Are Not American: Citizenship Stripping from Dred Scott to the Dreamers (Beacon Press, 2021) was named as a “New & Noteworthy” book by The New York Times Book Review and was shortlisted for the Mark Lynton History Prize. Her non-academic writing has been published in The AtlanticThe New RepublicThe Washington PostThe New York TimesSlateUSA Today and The American Prospect, and she authors the “Academic Round-up” column for SCOTUSblog. Prior to joining UVA Law, Frost was a law professor at American University. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Center for History and Democracy; the Consultative Group, “Nationwide Injunctions and Federal Regulatory Programs,” Administrative Conference of the United States; the editorial board of Oxford University’s Border Criminologies; an Academic Fellow at the Pound Civil Justice Institute; and a member of the National Constitution Center’s Coalition of Freedom Advisory Board.

John Jones PhotoJohn E. Jones III ’77, P’11, was officially named the college’s 30th president on Feb. 28, 2022. He was named interim president of Dickinson in summer 2021. Jones previously served as chair of Dickinson’s board of trustees and retired as chief judge of the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania, a position to which he was appointed by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate in 2002. Jones has presided over a number of high-profile cases, including the landmark case of Kitzmiller v. Dover School District, after which he held that it was unconstitutional to teach intelligent design within a public school science curriculum. He also resolved the matter of Whitewood v. Wolf by striking down as unconstitutional Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage. Jones co-chaired Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Ridge’s transition team and served as chair of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Jones has received numerous accolades during his career. In 2006, Time Magazine named him as one of its Time 100 most influential people in the world. He was the recipient of the first John Marshall Judicial Independence Award given by the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He also received the Geological Society of America’s President’s Medal and was inducted into the George Washington Spirit Society. An engaged alumnus and champion of the liberal arts, Jones was presented with an honorary doctorate in law and public policy from Dickinson College, where he also was recognized as one of the 25 most influential graduates in the college’s history. Born and raised in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, he is a graduate of Mercersburg Academy, Dickinson College and Penn State Dickinson Law. He and his wife Beth have two children, Meghan and John ’11, and three grandchildren.


Additional Resources

Constitution Day commemorates the signing of the US Constitution on September 17, 1787.  John Dickinson was one of the signers, though he was not present that day.  For more background and helpful teaching resources, see these materials from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Rising High School Seniors –Apply by May 31, 2023

2022 students

Summer 2022 seminar participants

Rising high school seniors from across south central Pennsylvania and elsewhere are invited to apply for the free, two-week Knowledge for Freedom seminar taking place this July on the historic campus of Dickinson College in Carlisle (July 16-July 28, 2023). The program is highly competitive and provides preference to low-income or first-generation college students.

Hosted for the third summer in a row by Dickinson’s  House Divided Project, the college-level seminar will explore the historic struggle for freedom in the United States. It’s part of the Knowledge for Freedom program, an initiative from the Teagle Foundation that helps introduce students to a series of great texts addressing fundamental questions about freedom, democracy and self-government.   

“We have had some extraordinary success with this wonderful program,” reports seminar director Matthew Pinsker. “Participants from our summer seminar have been accepted at some of the nation’s most highly selective colleges including not only Dickinson, but also Franklin & Marshall College, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, Williams College, and Yale University, to name just a few.  And practically everyone who has participated so far testifies to the life-changing impact of the experience.”  

Here are some comments directly from the student participants:

  • “I found strategies that I use all the time in school now, and I have become a much better student because of it… I cannot stress enough just how important and beneficial the environment you curated was. It was the most supportive environment I have ever been a part of.”
  • I do want to say thank you, for the opportunity you gave me by letting me join the Teagle program which has forever changed me. I went in as a student who was barely focused and had no clue what she wanted to do. You put me around amazing people and students, who are passionate about what they are doing and learning. That pushed me to do the same.
  • “This program has been one of the best times of my life. I feel so lucky to have been a part of it.”
  • “It is a great opportunity for students to understand what college is really about. The assignments get you ready for college and staying on campus in dorms gets you ready for college life. It was an all-around great experience.”

Former participant Etsub Taye (below) is now at Dickinson and will be serving as a tutor for the 2023 seminar

2022 seminar participant Cameron Nye (below) is a first-generation college student who will be attending Yale in the fall

In addition to enjoying a college-style experience this summer on the beautiful Dickinson campus, seminar participants will take field trips to the Gettysburg battlefield and Washington, D.C.  The seminar is free for participants and includes residential room and board. Select students will also be eligible to continue their studies online to receive college credit for their completed course work.  All participants will benefit from extensive mentoring and guidance as they navigate the college admissions process during their senior year of high school.    

Highlights from our 2021 seminar

Highlights from our 2022 seminar

Texts for the 2023 seminar include speeches and writings by Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Phillis Wheatley, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among several other great historical figures.

Program faculty includes Professor Matthew Pinsker, Director of the House Divided Project and scholar of the American Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, Associate Professor Lynn Johnson, Africana Studies and a noted expert on African American literature, and Dr. Todd Mealy, adjunct professor of history at Dickinson and social studies teacher at JP McCaskey High School.  

Applications are due by May 31, 2023.  For more details and to apply, visit https://housedivided.dickinson.edu/sites/teagle/how-to-apply/ or email: pinskerm@dickinson.edu.

Wert Lecture with Jonathan Holloway on African American History

posterOn Saturday evening, April 15, 2023, Rutgers University president and noted historian Jonathan Holloway will deliver the annual J. Howard Wert Lecture from the lectern that was on the speaker’s platform on November 19, 1863 when Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.  Holloway will speak about “The Cause of Freedom: On the Importance of African American History.” This event is free and open to the public and will be held at the Anita Tuvin Schlecter (ATS) auditorium (campus map).  Doors open at 6pm for those who would like to view the lectern and other rare artifacts from the Gettysburg battlefield and African American history.  Holloway’s lecture begins at 7pm and will continue until 8pm with a book signing to follow.  The first 50 students who arrive will receive free, signed copies of Holloway’s book, The Cause of Freedom (Oxford, 2021).

High school students participating in Dickinson’s innovative Knowledge for Freedom summer seminar will also be receiving free signed copies of Holloway’s book.  The Knowledge for Freedom program is designed especially to help get low-income or first-generation college students ready for college.  From July 16-28, 2023, up to three dozen rising high school seniors from around the region will be participating on campus in this free residential experience that includes field trips to Gettysburg and Washington, DC.  The Cause of Freedom will be one of the assigned texts.  Deadline for applicants is May 31, 2023.  (To learn more, go to the course website).


LIVESTREAM:


HolowayJonathan Holloway, a U.S. historian, took office as the 21st president of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, on July 1, 2020. He also serves as a University Professor and Distinguished Professor.Prior to accepting the presidency of Rutgers, Dr. Holloway was provost of Northwestern University from 2017 to 2020 and a member of the faculty of Yale University from 1999 to 2017.  At Yale, he served as Dean of Yale College and the Edmund S. Morgan Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies. President Holloway’s scholarly work specializes in post-emancipation U.S. history with a focus on social and intellectual history. He is the author of African American History: A Very Short Introduction and The Cause of Freedom: A Concise History of African Americans (Oxford University Press, February 2023 and February 2021, respectively). He also published Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941 (2002), and Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1940 (2013), both with the University of North Carolina Press. He edited Ralph Bunche’s A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership (New York University Press, 2005) and coedited Black Scholars on the Line: Race, Social Science, and American Thought in the Twentieth Century (Notre Dame University Press, 2007). He wrote the introduction for the 2015 edition of W.E.B. Du Bois’s Souls of Black Folk (Yale University Press), and is working on a new book, A History of Absence: Race and the Making of the Modern World.


Statement by Matthew Pinsker, Director of the House Divided Project

Warning labelWe put a “warning” label on Dr. Holloway’s lecture poster, because his presentation on African American history “might contain material now banned in Florida and other states.”  Unfortunately, this was not intended as a joke.  African American history is under assault across this country.    Parents and students should always feel free to question and disagree with any academic theories or frameworks they encounter, whether it’s the 1619 Project, anti-racism, critical race theory (CRT) or something else.  But passing state laws to ban books and criminalize teaching is never a good idea. Putting political pressure on the College Board to modify an AP curriculum is a mistake.   We invited Dr. Holloway to come to Dickinson College and speak in front of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address lectern so he could help explain to our students why African American history matters, perhaps now more than ever.  We fully expect the evening’s discussion to be lively and thought-provoking, but also unifying and inspiring. “The Cause of Freedom” is one that every American –of any background or party affiliation– should strive to understand in all its dimensions.  

Material for Further Learning


lectern

Lectern from Gettysburg cemetery dedication, 1863 (Courtesy of J. Howard Wert collection)

The J. Howard Wert Lecture is named in honor of J. Howard Wert (1841-1920), one of America’s great private collectors and pioneering educators.  Wert was a young abolitionist and resident of Adams County, Pennsylvania who was present when Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address in 1863.  The House Divided Project launched this annual lecture series in 2019 in partnership with the J. Howard Wert Collection and its current owner and curator, G. Craig Caba.  Christy Coleman, former CEO of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia, was the first Wert lecturer at Dickinson in 2019 to speak from the Gettysburg Address lectern.  Noted Military historian Eric Wittenberg (Class of 1983) was the second Wert Lecturer in 2021.  Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway will offer the third annual Wert Lecture on April 15, 2023.

 

 

 


Background on the Collection

The J. Howard Wert Collection is considered one of the finest privately held collections of Civil War era artifacts in the country.  Wert came from a prominent antislavery family in Adams County, Pennsylvania.  The Wert family collected a number of important historical artifacts, dating back to the 18th century. Wert himself was a graduate of Gettysburg College who served as a scout for Union forces during the 1863 battle and was present for the Gettysburg Address later that year.  Wert eventually enlisted in the Union army and became a teacher, author and noted school superintendent in Harrisburg.  He died in 1920.  During his lifetime, however, he was renowned for his collection of  important historical artifacts.   A 1910 newspaper profile claimed that Wert “had gathered a collection of relics at Gettysburg that could not be duplicated in any museum in the country.”  In his own Gettysburg battlefield guide, which had been published in 1886 when he was forty-six years old, Wert wrote about how his collection of relics inspired him to try to recount the conflict for future generations:

 

As these lines are penned, from the walls around, cartridge-box and cap-box, bayonet and sword, canteen and canister, with a hundred other relics gleaned twenty-three years ago from the fields and woods we are now traversing, look mutely down upon the writer and vividly recall the sorrowful appearance of the bloated and distorted and blackened dead that lay close beside; noble, stalwart men were they, arrayed in garb of gray, who had bravely fought for what they deemed the right. (J. Howard Wert, A complete hand-book of the monuments and indications and guide to the positions on the Gettysburg battlefield, 1886, pp. 109-110)


Dedication Day, November 19, 1863

Lincoln

Lincoln, hatless, on speaker’s platform while Everett is speaking (Library of Congress)

There are no eye-witness accounts or photographs from 1863 that actually depict the lectern or the chairs on the speaker’s platform.  However, the photographs that do exist make very clear that the scene was more than a little chaotic and that most of the standing crowd would have had a limited view beyond the shoulder line of the speakers.  Many of those present at the ceremony were impressed that the main orator Edward Everett seemed to have memorized his two-hour address, and some near the platform also remarked on how Lincoln slowly read his now much-more famous two-minute address, but few took note of other physical details from the platform itself.  Yet, J. Howard Wert, then 22 years old, was definitely present at the ceremony.  So was his friend, Henry Eyster Jacobs, a 19-year-old fellow graduate of Pennsylvania (later Gettysburg) College.  His father, Michael Jacobs, was also there, and was at the time a professor at the college, writing a history of the battle.  In fact, Prof. Jacobs had taken Everett on a tour of the battlefield in the days prior to the dedication ceremonies.  We know this because Edwards himself mentioned the tour in his diary.  Then, according to notes in the Wert Collection prepared decades later by J. Howard Wert, it was Professor Jacobs who provided his teaching lectern for the ceremony, along with at least one side chair, that was used by Everett, the former Massachusetts governor and U.S. senator while he was waiting to speak.  These notes (previously unpublished), and various other relevant primary sources, including recollections by Wert and both Jacobs men, are provided below.

Wert note

Courtesy of the J. Howard Wert Collection

Chair note

Courtesy of the J. Howard Wert Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Special November 20th Events –Renaming Ceremony and Distinguished Lecture

On Saturday, November 20, 2021, the House Divided Project at Dickinson College will host two special events:  a renaming ceremony as part of the Dickinson & Slavery initiative and a lecture by noted military historian Eric Wittenberg (Class of 1983) that will feature a public viewing of the original lectern from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Beginning at 1030am on November 20th outside of Old West on the main Dickinson campus, the House Divided Project at Dickinson will also host a special public renaming ceremony as part of the Dickinson & Slavery initiative.  [NOTE –Bad weather alternate location = Weiss Center].  In May 2020, the Dickinson College Board of Trustees approved the renaming of East College Gate as Pinkney Gate, in honor of Carrie and Noah Pinkney, formerly enslaved food sellers who worked around campus in the late 19th and early twentieth century.   The Board also approved the renaming of Cooper Hall as Spradley-Young Hall in honor of Henry W. Spradley and Robert C. Young, two longtime nineteenth-century Black employees and noted community leaders in Carlisle.  The renaming ceremonies for Pinkney Gate and Spradley-Young Hall will begin at 1030am and end by 1130am on Saturday morning and will include remarks by President John E. Jones, III.  Invited guests to the ceremonies include descendants of the nineteenth-century honorees as well descendants of other nineteenth-century Black employees.  We are expecting dozens of descendants from all over the country to attend.

 

Livestreaing begins 1030am ET 11/20/21 and video will remain archived at this link for later viewing

Renaming

In the afternoon, from 1pm to 4pm, the House Divided studio at 61 N. West Street will be open to visitors who would like to see the full Dickinson & Slavery museum exhibit.  In addition, during this time, student interns will lead walking tours around the new Dickinson & Slavery wayside markers that have recently been installed around campus. 

Slavery tour

 

On Saturday evening, November 20, 2021, prize-winning military historian and Dickinson College graduate Eric Wittenberg (Class of 1983) will deliver the second annual J. Howard Wert keynote address from the lectern that was on the speaker’s platform at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.   Wittenberg will speak about some of the enduring myths from the Battle of Gettysburg. This event is free and open to the public and will be held at the Anita Tuvin Schlecter (ATS) auditorium (campus map).  Doors open at 6pm for those who would like to view the lectern and other rare artifacts from the Gettysburg battlefield.  Wittenberg’s lecture begins at 7pm and will continue until 815pm with a book signing to follow.

 


WittenbergEric J. Wittenberg is a proud member of the Dickinson College Class of 1983 and is an award-winning Civil War author. A native of southeastern Pennsylvania, after graduating from Dickinson, Eric was educated at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. He is a partner in the Columbus, Ohio law firm of Cook, Sladoje & Wittenberg Co., L.P.A., where he manages the firm’s litigation practice. Wittenberg is the author of 22 critically acclaimed books on the American Civil War, several of which have won awards, as well as more than three dozen articles published in national magazines. He is in regular demand as a speaker and tour guide, and travels the country regularly doing both. He serves on the boards of trustees of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust and the Little Big Horn Associates, and often works with the American Battlefields Trust on battlefield preservation initiatives. He is also the program coordinator for the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars. His specialty is cavalry operations in the Civil War. He and his wife Susan reside in Columbus, Ohio.

Livestreaing begins 7pm ET 11/20/21 and video will remain archived at this link  for later viewing

 

The J. Howard Wert Lectureship is named in honor of J. Howard Wert (1841-1920), one of America’s great private collectors and pioneering educators.  Wert was a young abolitionist and resident of Adams County, Pennsylvania who was present when Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address in 1863.  The House Divided Project launched this annual lecture series in 2019 in partnership with the J. Howard Wert Collection and its current owner and curator, G. Craig Caba.  Christy Coleman, former CEO of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia, was the first Wert lecturer at Dickinson in 2019 to speak from the Gettysburg Address lectern.  On March 21, 2020, the lectern will be on display along with a chair from the platform used by Edward Everett, the dedication ceremony’s main orator. 

 


Background on the Collection

Howard Wert

J. Howard Wert was a young Adams County resident from a prominent anti-slavery family in 1863

Everett

Orator Edward Everett spoke for two hours at Gettysburg

lectern

Lectern from Gettysburg cemetery dedication, 1863 (Courtesy of J. Howard Wert collection)

The J. Howard Wert Collection is considered one of the finest privately held collections of Civil War era artifacts in the country.  Wert came from a prominent antislavery family in Adams County, Pennsylvania.  The Wert family collected a number of important historical artifacts, dating back to the 18th century. Wert himself was a graduate of Gettysburg College who served as a scout for Union forces during the 1863 battle and was present for the Gettysburg Address later that year.  Wert eventually enlisted in the Union army and became a teacher, author and noted school superintendent in Harrisburg.  He died in 1920.  During his lifetime, however, he was renowned for his collection of  important historical artifacts.   A 1910 newspaper profile claimed that Wert “had gathered a collection of relics at Gettysburg that could not be duplicated in any museum in the country.”  In his own Gettysburg battlefield guide, which had been published in 1886 when he was forty-six years old, Wert wrote about how his collection of relics inspired him to try to recount the conflict for future generations:

As these lines are penned, from the walls around, cartridge-box and cap-box, bayonet and sword, canteen and canister, with a hundred other relics gleaned twenty-three years ago from the fields and woods we are now traversing, look mutely down upon the writer and vividly recall the sorrowful appearance of the bloated and distorted and blackened dead that lay close beside; noble, stalwart men were they, arrayed in garb of gray, who had bravely fought for what they deemed the right. (J. Howard Wert, A complete hand-book of the monuments and indications and guide to the positions on the Gettysburg battlefield, 1886, pp. 109-110)


Lincoln

Lincoln, hatless, on speaker’s platform while Everett is speaking (Library of Congress)

Dedication Day, November 19, 1863

There are no eye-witness accounts or photographs from 1863 that actually depict the lectern or the chairs on the speaker’s platform.  However, the photographs that do exist make very clear that the scene was more than a little chaotic and that most of the standing crowd would have had a limited view beyond the shoulder line of the speakers.  Many of those present at the ceremony were impressed that the main orator Edward Everett seemed to have memorized his two-hour address, and some near the platform also remarked on how Lincoln slowly read his now much-more famous two-minute address, but few took note of other physical details from the platform itself.  Yet, J. Howard Wert, then 22 years old, was definitely present at the ceremony.  So was his friend, Henry Eyster Jacobs, a 19-year-old fellow graduate of Pennsylvania (later Gettysburg) College.  His father, Michael Jacobs, was also there, and was at the time a professor at the college, writing a history of the battle.  In fact, Prof. Jacobs had taken Everett on a tour of the battlefield in the days prior to the dedication ceremonies.  We know this because Edwards himself mentioned the tour in his diary.  Then, according to notes in the Wert Collection prepared decades later by J. Howard Wert, it was Professor Jacobs who provided his teaching lectern for the ceremony, along with at least one side chair, that was used by Everett, the former Massachusetts governor and U.S. senator while he was waiting to speak.  These notes (previously unpublished), and various other relevant primary sources, including recollections by Wert and both Jacobs men, are provided below.

Wert note

Courtesy of the J. Howard Wert Collection

Chair note

Courtesy of the J. Howard Wert Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

New Dickinson & Slavery Walking Tour

On Wednesday, April 7, 2021, the House Divided Project will launch a new Historic Walking Tour on campus for the Dickinson & Slavery initiative.  Director Matthew Pinsker, along with students interns Charlotte Goodman (’23), Liz McCreary (’22), and Amanda Sowah (’22), will help lead members of the college community, including President Margee Ensign, on the half mile trek that includes six stops commemorating the role of slavery and freedom in Dickinson College history.  This launch event takes place on National Walking Day.

Walking Tour

The Dickinson & Slavery initiative opened an exhibit and issued a report in 2019 that helped lead to a decision by the Board of Trustees in May 2020 to began a campus-wide renaming process that would better reflect the diversity of the college’s history.  New wayside markers represent the first stage of that process.  A second stage will occur in November 2021 as the college plans to hold a public renaming ceremony for Spradley-Young Hall and Pinkney Gate with descendants of those nineteenth-century Black Dickinsonians  invited to participate.  

The six stops on the Dickinson & Slavery Historic Walking Tour include:

  • Stop 1:  Slavery & Dickinson’s Founding–  Marker describes contributions of enslaved people to the college’s founding and the contradictory views of the founders regarding slavery.  Location:  Old West
  • Stop 2:  Dred Scott Case —Marker explains the role of Dickinsonians on both sides in the controversial Dred Scott Case (1857). Location: Behind East College
  • Stop 3:  House Divided Studio– Outdoor markers and murals help commemorate the role of free Blacks and formerly enslaved people in Dickinson history. Location:  61 N. West Street
  • Stop 4:  Pinkney Gate– Marker honors both Carrie and Noah Pinkney, popular Carlisle food sellers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Location:  West Street, facing East College
  • Stop 5:  Black Employees– Marker highlights the contributions of various Black employees during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Location:  Bosler Hall
  • Stop 6:  Spradley-Young Hall– Banner marks the rededication of this residence hall in honor of Henry W. Spradley and Robert C. Young, two longtime employees of the college and noted community leaders. Location: Former Cooper Hall, High Street

The launch of the Historic Walking Tour coincides with National Walking Day (Wednesday, April 7, 2021) and is being co-sponsored by the Spring Into Fitness Challenge at Dickinson.  Members of the college community who would like to participate in the launch event should meet outside of Old West at noon on April 7.   Tours can be undertaken either self-guided or guided.  The guided tours will take around 30 to 40 minutes and will be entirely outdoors.  For more information, download the tour brochure or view the online tour site with supporting videos and other content.  This event is NOT open to the general public.  

Pinsker Unveils Student Hall of Fame Projects

Project interns

Student interns from House Divided Project with Prof. Pinsker

(Carlisle, PA) Today, historian Matthew Pinsker is sharing public access to his “Student Hall of Fame,” a compilation of some of the best 150 student papers and projects that he has received in his classes over the last decade.   Pinsker, the Pohanka Chair for Civil War History at Dickinson College and director of the House Divided Project, teaches all eras of US history.  Projects cover topics such as history methods, US diplomatic history, US Constitutional history, oral histories about 20th-century America, and a wide variety of nineteenth-century themes such as slavery resistance, Civil War and Reconstruction.   There are student-made websites, custom-built Google maps, video documentaries and various types of essays and research projects.  Many teachers may want to assign these efforts in their own classes. Pinsker finds that often students are more engaged when learning from other students.  He regularly assigns projects from his Student Hall of Fame in his syllabi as a way to inspire students to work harder on their own efforts.

Student Hall of Fame

The following nearly 200 examples of outstanding student work derive from some of the best submissions over the last decade to Prof. Pinsker’s Dickinson College classes (including undergraduate, online graduate and special summer high school seminars) and also from the hard-working summer interns at the House Divided Project.  

NOTE:  This post has been updated with new entries from Spring and Summer 2022.

History Methods Posts

Close Reading Posts

Document Videos

Essay Posts

Election Day Posts

Knowledge for Freedom seminar

Close reading essays

Audio document readings

Video document readings

Website projects

Landmark Cases Posts

Mapping Posts

Oral Histories

Video Documentaries

Research Papers

Website Projects

Honors Projects

New Free Seminar for High School Students

seminarRising high school seniors from across south central Pennsylvania are invited to apply for a free, three-week seminar taking place this July on the historic campus of Dickinson College in Carlisle. 

Hosted by Dickinson’s  House Divided Project, the college-level seminar will explore the historic struggle for freedom in the United States. It’s part of the Knowledge for Freedom program, an initiative from the Teagle Foundation that helps introduce students to a series of great texts addressing fundamental questions about freedom, democracy and self-government.   

In addition to enjoying a college-style experience this summer on the beautiful Dickinson campus, seminar participants will take field trips to Washington, D.C., the Gettysburg battlefield and historic sites in Harrisburg. The seminar is free for participants and includes residential room and board. Students will be eligible to receive college credit for their completed course work and will benefit from extensive mentoring and guidance as they navigate the college admissions process during their senior year of high school.    

The seminar and field experience will be led by Professor Matthew Pinsker, a noted author and scholar of the American Civil War and Abraham Lincoln. Pinsker is a professor of history at Dickinson, where he holds the Pohanka chair in American Civil War History and directs the House Divided Project, which exists to help K-12 classrooms learn more about the American Civil War, with special attention paid to efforts to abolish slavery 

The program is highly competitive and targets low-income or first-generation college students. Applications are due by May 31, 2021.  For more details and to apply, visit https://housedivided.dickinson.edu/sites/teagle/how-to-apply/ or email: pinskerm@dickinson.edu.

Dickinson Begins Diversifying Campus Memory

(Carlisle, PA) Today, May 6, 2020, Dickinson College president Margee M. Ensign announced that the school’s Board of Trustees had unanimously approved a plan to rename a student residence hall after two formerly enslaved men and longtime college employees who had helped to integrate the Dickinson campus in the 19th century.  This decision came in response to a multi-year initiative on “Dickinson & Slavery” by the House Divided Project and represents merely a first step (“just getting started” wrote Ensign) toward a general diversifying of the institution’s public memory and historical commemoration on campus.

At the beginning of May, the Dickinson trustees unanimously approved four resolutions submitted to them in late February from the president’s Ad Hoc Committee on Renaming (chaired by Tonian Ortega, ’18 and Matthew Pinsker, director, House Divided Project):

  • Rename Cooper Hall as Spradley-Young Hall in honor of Henry W. Spradley and Robert C. Young, two formerly enslaved men and longtime college employees who had helped to integrate the Dickinson campus in the 19th century.
  • Rename East College Gate as Pinkney Family Gate in honor of Carrie and Noah Pinkney,  who were popular foodsellers on campus throughout the late 19th and early 20th century.  Noah Pinkney was also a formerly enslaved man and a Union army veteran.
  • Support ongoing efforts by the House Divided Project to raise awareness about the Dickinson & Slavery initiative both online and on campus, including a new series of campus wayside markers to help tell this important story.
  • Set 2022 as a new goal for further reconsideration of the historic namesakes on other residential halls (nine of the former “Quads” which were named in 1991) and Montgomery House (named in the 1950s) with wide-ranging considerations related to recognizing more diverse historic contributions to the school and nation.  
Henry Spradley and Robert Young

Henry Spradley (left) with Robert Young (right), on the steps of Old West, c. 1885 (with son Shirley Spradley center)

Dickinson College plans to invite descendants of the Pinkney, Spradley and Young families to the renaming ceremonies as they are scheduled in the upcoming academic year.   Those who wish to learn more about their stories should consult the online Dickinson & Slavery exhibit and the 2019 report to the community.  Below please also find copies of the statement by the Ad Hoc Committee on Renaming and the letter to the community by President Ensign.

Finally, here is list of ten undergraduate students who made vital contributions to the Dickinson & Slavery effort as House Divided Project interns:

  • Sarah Aillon, ‘19
  • Amanda Donoghue, ‘19
  • Sarah Goldberg, ‘18
  • Frank Kline, ‘18
  • Dana Marecheau, ’20
  • Rachel Morgan, ‘18
  • Rebecca Stout, ‘19
  • Naji Thompson, ‘19
  • Sam Weisman, ‘18
  • Cooper Wingert, ‘20

For more information, contact Matthew Pinsker, director of the House Divided Project, at pinskerm@dickinson.edu or hdivided@dickinson.edu

 

 

We’ve Got A Video For That! –#historyvideos

Pinsker at Gettysburg(Carlisle, PA) To try to support K-12 and college educators who are heading online during the 2020 pandemic, we are launching a campaign to raise awareness about our extensive library of classroom-friendly videos that have been built over the years to enhance the teaching of 19th-century American history and history methods.  These 120+ short videos include virtual field trips, close reading models, interviews with leading historians, student-produced documentaries, technology & research tutorials and even some music videos –all providing effective, easy-to-navigate educational content. 

The House Divided Project’s multi-media content has definitely been “teacher approved.” Our YouTube channel already has over 1 million views and nearly 1,000 subscribers.  We have conducted teacher trainings with our digital resources for over 5,000 educators from 48 states. In addition, our project director, Matthew Pinsker, has now been featured in dozens of professionally produced educational videos for the History Channel, C-SPAN, Gilder Lehrman Institute (GLI) and other organizations.  Starting today, video highlights from these collections will be curated here and easily available for all types of educators to navigate.  We also plan to highlight individual videos and to encourage other academic colleagues to do the same for their own productions under the social media hashtag:  #historyvideos

 

Virtual Field Trips

Did you have to cancel a trip to Gettysburg or Washington, DC?  We’ve got some excellent in-depth video tours, especially designed for classroom use, led by historian Matthew Pinsker:

Abraham Lincoln

Are you looking for new ways to bring Lincoln’s words to life in your classroom?  Try some of these multi-media resources, including video analysis of his top writings from our project director, multi-media excerpts from a prize-winning Lincoln biography, top-quality student documentaries, a Dickinson college theatre professor reading dozens of Lincoln’s writings in his “voice,” and even a music video from a popular 1860 campaign song.

Slavery & Emancipation

One of our most popular classroom videos over the years has been a student-produced documentary short film about Henry Spradley, an escaped slave who became a longtime employee at Dickinson College.  His story helped spark numerous other video efforts about various Dickinsonians involved in the 19th-century battle between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces.  In partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute and the History Channel, we have also developed numerous multi-media resources on the Dred Scott Case and Emancipation Proclamation. 

Underground Railroad

From the summer of 2006 to 2008, Dickinson College hosted NEH-funded teacher workshops on the Underground Railroad that helped us produce a number of myth-busting videotaped interviews with leading scholars. More recently, the House Divided Project has embarked on a new partnership with the National Park Service regarding the critically important though often overlooked phenomenon of mass escapes from slavery, or “slave stampedes,” as they were called at the time.  Our student interns have begun to produce a series of short documentaries explaining the significance of these stampedes for understanding the coming of the Civil War. 

Civil War

Students at Dickinson College have produced a series of compelling documentary short films about the Civil War, often through the lens of the town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  The House Divided Project has also produced a revealing documentary about a Texas infantryman in the Confederate army who desperately missed his young daughter.

Reconstruction

In 2016, the House Divided Project at Dickinson College hosted a multi-day conference and teacher workshop on Reconstruction featuring leading historians such Eric Foner, Gregory Downs, Jeffrey Rosen, and Anne Rubin.  Their presentations and interviews from that weekend are now feely available at our YouTube channel.

19th-Century to 19th Amendment

In 2017, the History Channel launched a new online video series called “Sound Smart” that offered short (2 minute) videos on a wide variety of American History topics.  Project director Matthew Pinsker contributed ten of these classroom-friendly videos:

Technology Tutorials

Some of our most popular video productions have been tutorials that help show students how to build various types of multi-media projects using a wide variety of free online tools.

History Methods

At House Divided Project, we are always interested in promoting historical thinking and the latest insights about mastering historical methods in the 21st-century classroom.  We’ve interviewed some leading historians and filmmakers about these topics.  Perhaps most important, however, some of our best student videos, like Colin Macfarlane’s documentary on Henry Spradley, help demonstrate first-rate historical methods in action.