The Civil War & Reconstruction Era

An educational video seminar series presented by

The Danbury Museum & Historical Society and The Danbury Library


Embark on a jaunt to the past through this video seminar series created through Open Yale Courses (OYC). The seminars are conducted by historian, author and Yale University Professor David W. Blight. If you like history, we think you’ll love this well-researched, 27-part program series that explores in great depth of the Civil War period.

Programs will alternate between the Danbury Library and the Danbury Museum.

This series explores the causes, course, and consequences of the American Civil War, from the 1840s to 1877. Four broad themes are closely examined: the crisis of union and disunion in an expanding republic; slavery, race, and emancipation as national problem, personal experience, and social process; the experience of modern, total war for individuals and society; and the political and social challenges of Reconstruction.

David W. Blight is the Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale University.

This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2008.

Syllabus and suggested reading available at

Program Dates:

Programs will alternate between the Danbury Library and The Danbury Museum.  They will be held on Fridays & Saturdays

from 1:30 to 2:20 p.m.

Sept. 23 (Danbury Library)

1. Introductions: Why Does the Civil War Era Have a Hold on American Historical Imagination?

Oct. 01 (Danbury Museum)

2. Southern Society: Slavery, King Cotton, and Antebellum America's "Peculiar" Region

Oct. 07 (Danbury Library)

3. A Southern World View: The Old South and Proslavery Ideology

Oct. 15 (Danbury Museum)

4. A Northern World View: Yankee Society, Antislavery Ideology and the Abolition Movement

Oct. 21 (Danbury Library)

5. Telling a Free Story: Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad in Myth and Reality

Oct. 29 (Danbury Museum)

6. Expansion and Slavery: Legacies of the Mexican War and the Compromise of 1850

Nov. 04 (Danbury Library)

7. "A Hell of a Storm": The Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Birth of the Republican Party, 1854-55

Nov. 12 (Danbury Museum)

8. Dred Scott, Bleeding Kansas, and the Impending Crisis of the Union, 1855-58

Nov. 18 (Danbury Library)

9. John Brown's Holy War: Terrorist or Heroic Revolutionary?


Dec. 02 (Danbury Library)

10. The Election of 1860 and the Secession Crisis

Dec. 10 (Danbury Museum)

11. Slavery and State Rights, Economies and Ways of Life: What Caused the Civil War?

Dec. 16 (Danbury Library)

12. And the War Came: 1861: The Sumter Crisis, Comparative Strategies



Jan. 07 (Danbury Museum)

  1. 13.Terrible Swift Sword: The Period of Confederate Ascendency, 1861-1862

This lecture was cancelled due to wintry weather. It will be shown on Friday, January 13 at 1:30 p.m. at Danbury Library

Jan. 13 (Danbury Library)

  1. 14.Never Call Retreat: Military and Political Turning Points in 1863

This lecture will begin at 2:30 p.m. after the showing of #13 which was cancelled due to wintry weather.

Jan. 21 (Danbury Museum)

15. Lincoln, Leadership, and Race: Emancipation as Policy

Jan. 27 (Danbury Library)

16. Days of Jubilee: The Meanings of Emancipation and Total War

Feb. 04 (Danbury Museum)

17. Homefronts and Battlefronts: "Hard War" and the Social Impact of the Civil War

Feb. 10 (Danbury Library)

18. "War So Terrible": Why the Union Won and the Confederacy Lost at Home and Abroad

Feb. 18 (Danbury Museum)

19. To Appomattox and Beyond: The End of the War and a Search for Meanings

Feb. 24 (Danbury Library)

20. Wartime Reconstruction: Imagining the Aftermath and a Second American Republic

March 04 (Danbury Museum)

21. Andrew Johnson and the Radicals: A Contest over the Meaning of Reconstruction

March 10 (Danbury Library)

22. Constitutional Crisis and Impeachment of a President

March 18 (Danbury Museum)

23. Black Reconstruction in the South: The Freedpeople and the Economics of Land and Labor

March 24 (Danbury Library)

24. Retreat from Reconstruction: The Grant Era and Paths to "Southern Redemption"

April 01 (Danbury Museum)

25. The "End" of Reconstruction: Disputed Election of 1876, and the "Compromise of 1877"

April 07 (Danbury Library)

  1. 26.Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

April 07 (Danbury Library)

27. Legacies of the Civil War

Attendees will be invited to a special event to celebrate the completion of this special series.  More details to come!