In honor of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the Port Washington Public Library is holding a special three-day Civil War weekend from April 24 through April 26. The event includes lectures and performances by Civil War experts, a screening of the Buster Keaton movie, The General, with live piano accompaniment, a Frederick Douglas exhibit and displays of Civil War artifacts.
On Friday, April 24, at 4 p.m., acclaimed storyteller Gerald Fierst will be in the Children’s Room performing a dynamic mix of storytelling and theater. Fierst will be interpreting folktales that celebrate the Civil War.
On Saturday, Schreiber High School senior Lya Rothmann will be giving a presentation about the lack of civil liberties during the time period of the Civil War. Rothmann became involved because she is in the social studies honor society and her advisor suggested it to her. Rothmann has lived in Port Washington her whole life. Her parents also attended Port schools.
Dan Chuzmir, head of library community relations, said, “If you are a Civil War history buff, this is the event for you. But even if not, we may turn you into one. You’ll find a ton of things to do. There will be a musical performance, a Buster Keaton movie showing, singing of 18th-century ballads, a Fredrick Douglass exhibit, storytellers for children, among other activities.”
The idea for the Civil War commemoration was proposed by library patron, Don Parker. Parker is a retired American history teacher who has lived in Port Washington for 46 years. His sons graduated from the Port Washington schools. “We love living Port Washington and especially love our library,” said Parker. “The library was willing to develop this program about the Civil War.”
Parker met with Assistant Library Director Corinne Camarata, and they worked together on the idea. Then, other staff got involved. They created a weekend commemorating the end of the Civil War that will have interesting events for all ages.
James Coll, adjunct associate professor of American and Constitutional history at Nassau Community College and current New York City police detective, will discuss the Emancipation Proclamation. Si Shank, a Civil War expert, will be speaking about General Lee and General Grant.
There is a special exhibit about Frederick Douglas on the third floor, loaned by the Guilder Lehrman Institute. The exhibit explores the life of Douglas, slavery and abolition. Local Civil War artifacts will also be displayed around the library.