The Boston Public Library has an outstanding array of programming to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, from May until December 2011. From the looks of it, the exhibitions and programs seek to demonstrate how the war was  experienced here in Boston as well as throughout the fractured nation.

Boston is better known as a “Revolutionary War” city, of course. But it’s fitting that the city’s institutions hosts such programming, as Boston played an important role in the war. Indeed, Bostonians were behind some of the most integral social reform movements of the period: temperance, women’s rights, and abolition. We are the hometown of the fabled 54th Massachusetts infantry–the all-African American regiment that had to overcome Northern racism before getting to the Southern battlefields.  Moreover, Boston is home to what may be New England’s most important Civil War site: Georges Island in the Boston Harbor National Park Area. It was in Georges Island’s Fort Warren that Southern prisoners of war were incarcerated during the Civil War–including the Vice President of the Confederacy. The Boston Harbor Islands also have a slew of programs that are going to run this summer to commemorate the war, some of which include lectures on history, immigrant culture and the war, music of the period, and on July 9th,  living history demonstrations on the parade grounds of Fort Warren. This looks like a great event for parents who want to give the kids an easy dose of history!

If you’re interested in the BPL’s programs (which include lectures, genealogy seminars, and performances), check out what’s on deck at their site. If you consider yourself more of an armchair historian, have a look at their Civil War Reading Lists. There are lists for kids, teens, and adults. The adult lists are broken out into biography, campaigns, fiction and nonfiction. I have a copy of Jarrettsville by Cornelia Nixon that I’ve recently started (the BPL includes it on their fiction list) but I look forward to reading more, and to hitting some of these lectures and events on the Harbor Islands.