Library event honors 150th anniversary of Civil War

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:04 p.m.

Pennsylvania's role in the Civil War was discussed last week at One Book, One Community — a history book discussion held at the Ligonier Valley Library.

Focusing on the newly released book “The Civil War in Pennsylvania: A Photographic History” by Michael Kraus, David Nevill and Kenneth Turner, the discussion centered on the war's impact on the state as told through photographs.

“This is a really great topic because of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg,” said library director Janet Hudson of Ligonier.

Hudson said copies of the book were available at the library.

The group discussion was lead by Tom Headley, retired executive director of Westmorland Heritage of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and Glenn Smeltzer, a local writer and Civil War lecturer.

“Pennsylvania supplied a lot of men and war materials, such as cannons,” Smeltzer, a Youngwood resident, said. “Over 330,000 Pennsylvanians fought — more units from Westmoreland County participated than any other part of Pennsylvania.”

Nearly two dozen people participated in the book discussion, which also touched on the glorification of war, the many casualties and the fact that the Civil War was the first war where photography was available, allowing the public to view images they had not previously been able to see.

Hudson said the library was the perfect place to address the anniversary, as the Civil War was a theme in the facility's PA Room in 2011.

“We have a huge collection of photos of those who served in the Civil War from the Ligonier area,” said PA Room Archivist Shirley Iscrupe.

Thirteen binders full of information on the men had also been gathered for the exhibit and Iscrupe displayed the entire collection during the book discussion.

Iscrupe said she was able to identify two men in photographs from ‘The Civil War in Pennsylvania' as being from Ligonier.

“It's incredibly fascinating,” Iscrupe said, “The revelations never end.”

One Book, One Community is an annual event in its ninth year. It is part of the library's summer reading program sponsored by the Westmoreland Library Network.

“‘The Civil War in Pennsylvania' was published specifically for the 150th anniversary,” said Cesare Muccari, the program's chairman and library director for the Greensburg Hempfield Public Library, “And many of the pictures have never been published anywhere else.”

Muccari said the books chosen for the program are always historical in nature and usually related to South Western Pennsylvania.

Participants were invited to attend a special program at the John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. The program, scheduled to take place in September, includes a private viewing of the 9,000-square-foot exhibit titled ‘Pennsylvania's Civil War' and a meet-the-authors session.

“We're offering people the chance to have a good educational experience,” said Muccari.

Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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