Join us throughout the months of February and March as we explore lesser-known stories of the Civil War, and look at some familiar ones with fresh perspectives.
In our newest student-centered program, the Peake Series pairs highlights from key Civil War stories in our award-winning exhibit “A People’s Contest” with special virtual programs featuring ACWM’s museum professionals for an unforgettable experience for students and teachers alike.
We highlight lesser-known stories of the Civil War era while celebrating Black History Month and Women’s History Month. All Peake series videos will remain on our website until the end of May.
This series is named in honor of Mary S. Peake (nee Kelsey), one of the many African American women who dedicated their time and lives to education under the most difficult of circumstances.
View past programs
The Contraband Decision
Though when Abraham Lincoln called for troops in 1861 his intention was to preserve the Union rather than end slavery, the Civil War resulted in the complete emancipation of nearly 4 million people. What were some of the early steps that enslaved people took that changed the course of the war and American History.
What does it mean to be free? What do you sacrifice in the pursuit of freedom? Encounter the stories of African American people – both enslaved and free – who embarked on a journey to freedom or worked in other ways to end slavery during an incredibly dangerous time in American history.
One Image, Two Freedom Fighters
Discover how the photo of USCT Pvt. Hubbard Pryor became a national recruitment tool and then vanished from memory only to resurface as a depiction of Gabriel, the enslaved man who planned a large-scale rebellion in 1800. With ACWM’s Ana Edwards.
The United States Colored Troops
Regiments of African American soldiers added much-needed men to the Union war effort, however, they were utilized to varying degrees. From guarding wagons in 1863 to being in the headlines for their efforts in battles like New Market Heights, the Black soldiers who enlisted sought a tangible way to aid in the effort towards freedom.
What did freedom mean to Garland White? For the former slave, preacher, soldier, and aspiring politician, it meant different things at different times. Spend time with him in this talk, and think about the full implication of what the end of slavery meant.
With ACWM’s Chris Graham
After the War
At the end of 1865, the Civil War was over and the 13th Amendment was ratified, but what about the years to come? How did African Americans seize the moment and ensure that their efforts had not been in vain?
Mary Richards and Elizabeth van Lew
Two important Richmonders during the Civil War, how much do we really know about the mysterious formerly enslaved woman, rumored to have spied on the Davis family, and the famous southern Unionist whose family once held the other in bondage? Let’s explore what history can and can’t tell us when evidence goes missing and relationships get complex.
Suzie King Taylor’s Civil War
Suzie King Taylor was the only African-American woman to publish a memoir about her wartime experiences with the army. A former slave, educated in secret, Taylor served as a teacher, laundress, and nurse with the 33rd United States Colored Troops.
They were wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters –and soldiers. Since the first century A.D., women have picked up weapons and gone to the battlefield. There is no surprise during this country’s deadliest war, women marched into battle beside men. Explore the stories of women soldiers who fought in the Civil War.
Medicine, Hospitals, and Nursing
Outside of the battlefield, women played many vital roles during the Civil War. Working in hospitals and tending to the wounded and infirm was only one of the many contributions made, but it was one of the most important. The stories they told and were told of them, continue to fascinate listeners even today.
Women Laborers and Bread Riots
At the Richmond Ordinance Lab across from the Tredegar Iron Works, scores of women labored away. Making munitions for the Confederate war effort, they undertook dangerous work for the pay they earned. An explosion there that killed dozens coupled with food shortages and wartime worries laid the groundwork for a stunning and, to many, shocking expression of frustration.
Bread or Blood
Learn how price controls, rising inflation, and wartime shortages led to the Richmond Bread Riot in the spring of 1863. Meet the women involved in orchestrating the riot and explore the controversy over who ended it. With ACWM’s Kelly Hancock
Libby Prison and Spies
Libby Prison was known for its wretched conditions and high mortality rate and the escape from it in 1864 would not have gone half as well without people like Elizabeth Van Lew and the spy ring she operated. Across the country, spies aided the war effort in various ways, from pretending to be servants to airing their enemy’s dirty laundry.
From Belles to Battleaxes
Discover the women of Civil War Richmond, from daring spies and devoted nurses to star-crossed lovers and captivating socialites. Learn about Rose O’Neal Greenhow, Elizabeth Van Lew, Mary Chesnut, Hetty Cary, Buck Preston and more. With ACWM’s Kelly Hancock.