Former Carnegie library director is new Civil War room curator
By Staff Report
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Former Andrew Carnegie Free Library Director Diane Klinefelter has been named to the new position of part-time curator for the facility's treasured Civil War Room. She will assume the position in January.
The position was made available through a grant and was announced by Executive Director Maggie Forbes.
The library complex is home to the Captain Thomas Espy Post No. 153 of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The GAR was the pre-eminent veterans' organization of the Union armed services.
Members of the Espy Post custom-furnished a second-floor room at the library and met there from 1906 until the mid-1930s, when the last member of the post died. The room — along with its original furnishings and artifacts, including flags, weapons, books, prints and other items relating to the Civil War — was locked and essentially forgotten for decades.
In late 2008, a benefactor came forward, making restoration of the post possible.
The Civil War Room reopened on Feb. 12, 2010, the 201st anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.
“We are so grateful to Massey Charitable Trust for recognizing not only the significance of the Espy Post, but the impact that a top caliber professional will have on public awareness of the room and in instilling greater understanding of the defining chapter in our nation's history,” Forbes said.
Klinefelter served as the library director from 2005 until early 2012. As the author of two books on the Civil War with connections in the regional Civil War community, she played a critical role stewarding the Espy Post collection during restoration, developing a docent program and public programming to complement the post.
One of her proudest accomplishments was registering the Espy Post's significant manuscript collection with the Library of Congress's National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, thereby providing international bibliographic access to this national treasure in Carnegie.
“I've always loved the library and the music hall, but the Espy Post is my passion,” Klinefelter said.
So much so that she volunteered to organize a special program for Remembrance Day on Saturday, Nov. 23, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., in the second floor Reception Hall.
Remembrance Day commemorates the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's delivering his immortal Gettysburg Address and the consecration of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg.
Klinefelter, wearing period dress, will give special tours of the post, focusing on a fascinating Gettysburg artifact, the Commander's Gavel. This gavel was carved from wood felled at Devil's Den, where fierce fighting on the second day of the battle took place. The gavel has a bullet still in its head.
Carnegie's chief executive, Mayor Jack Kobistek, will deliver Mr. Lincoln's famous speech at 12:30 and 2 p.m.
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