To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the US Civil War and in conjunction with the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Newberry Library have mounted “Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North,” an exhibition of more than 100 items that focuses on the enormous, and costly, effect the war had on civilians. “Home Front” comprehensively examines the culture of the Northern home front through visual materials that illustrate the war’s influence on household and the cotton economies; the ways in which the absence of young men from the home changed daily life; how war relief work linked home fronts and battle fronts; why Indians on the frontier were pushed out of the riven nation’s consciousness during the war years; and how wartime landscape paintings illuminated the nation’s past, present, and future.
“Home Front” is open from September 27, 2013, through March 24, 2014, making it one of the longest running exhibitions in the Newberry’s 126-year history. Highlights of the exhibition include stunning paintings by Winslow Homer, Frederic E. Church, and other American artists of the period; first editions by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Louisa May Alcott; sheet music from Chicago-based music publishers Root and Cady; and magazine illustrations that depict the changing roles of women and children who supported the war effort. “Home Front” also features a companion digital exhibition.
In conjunction with the exhibition opening, the University of Chicago Press has published a companion volume to “Home Front,” which is the first book to explore the visual culture of a world far removed from the horror of war, yet intimately bound to it. The book includes a foreword by award-winning Civil War scholar Adam Goodheart and essays by five humanities scholars, including exhibition co-curators Daniel Greene and Peter John Brownlee, Associate Curator at the Terra Foundation. The other three book authors are: Sarah Burns, professor of art history emeritus, Indiana University, Bloomington; Diane Dillon, director of scholarly and undergraduate programs, the Newberry; and Scott Manning Stevens, director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies, the Newberry.
“Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North” is co-organized by the Newberry and the Terra Foundation for American Art. The exhibition is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.