The Society of Civil War Historians is committed to promoting both scholarship and fellowship among historians, graduate students, and professionals who interpret history in museums, national parks, archives, and other public facilities. Membership includes a subscription to the quarterly Journal of the Civil War Era and the opportunity to attend a biennial conference. Annual dues are $60 for regular members, $25 for students, and there are also institutional, life, and founder memberships.
The SCWH seeks to promote the study of the Civil War era and to bring greater coherence to the field by encouraging the integration of social, military, political, and other forms of history. The Society publishes a quarterly newsletter, sponsors a biennial conference in even-numbered years (our 2012 conference is in Lexington, Kentucky), and awards the annual Tom Watson Brown Book Prize for the best book on the Civil War era at a banquet held during the Southern Historical Association conference.
Florida Atlantic University serves as the organizational home for the Society of Civil War Historians and Penn State’s Richards Civil War Era Center co-sponsors the JCWE and manages the biennial conference.
We welcome questions and comments from members or inquiries about becoming members.
Anne Sarah Rubin
The Society of Civil War Historians celebrated a quarter of a century at its meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, in November 2010. The concept of an organization devoted to the study of the Civil War grew out of a conversation between Dr. Grady McWhiney (d. 2006) and Jerry L. Russell (d. 2003) at a meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, in the fall of 1984. The following year McWhiney and Russell arranged an organizational meeting at the Southern Historical Association conference in Houston, Texas. More than 200 people joined, and the first gathering of members was at the Southern in New Orleans in 1986. In 1991, Dr. McWhiney asked Anne J. Bailey, who earned her Ph.D. under McWhiney at Texas Christian University, to publish a newsletter and the inaugural issue appeared in the Spring of 1992. Russell, who served as the Society’s first secretary and executive director, began to take a less active role in 1993 and Steven D. Engle, who received his Ph.D. from Florida State University, took over as executive secretary in January 1994 and book review editor in Fall of 1997.
Presidents of the Society have included Grady McWhiney (1985-1996); T. Michael Parrish (1997-2000); Gary W. Gallagher (2000-2004); George C. Rable (2004-2008); James Marten (2008-2012); and Anne Sarah Rubin (2012-). The first Board of Directors included Norman Brown, University of Texas at Austin; Herman Hattaway, University of Missouri at Kansas City; Grady McWhiney, Texas Christian University; William E. Parrish, Mississippi State University; Richard J. Sommers, U.S. Army Military History Institute; and William N. Still, East Carolina University. In 1993, Daniel E. Sutherland, University of Arkansas, joined the Board. By 1997, the Board had grown to include Lynda Crist, Papers of Jefferson Davis, Rice University; Gary Gallagher, Pennsylvania State University; Joseph T. Glatthaar, University of Houston; Lesley J. Gordon, Murray State University; Carol Reardon, Pennsylvania State University; James I. Robertson, Jr., Virginia Tech University; and Charles P. Roland, University of Kentucky. Additions came in 2000 with new Board members including Alice Fahs, University of California at Irving; Thavolia Glymph, Pennsylvania State University; James Marten, Marquette University; James M. McPherson, Princeton University; T. Michael Parrish, LBJ Library, Austin; George C. Rable, University of Alabama; and Joan Waugh, University of California at Los Angeles. William A. Blair joined the Board in 2007 and A. Wilson Green in 2009. Amy Murrell Taylor, University at Albany-SUNY, became a board member in 2012. (Engle and Bailey have been part of the Board since the 1990s.)
In the past, Society members have gathered each year during the Southern Historical Society’s annual conference in the Fall. In addition, the first biennial conference was held in Philadelphia in 2008; the second in Richmond in 2010; and the third in Lexington in 2012.
From 2007 until 2010, Society membership included a subscription to the journal Civil War History, edited by William A. Blair at Penn State University. A contributing sponsor of the Society is the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at Penn State. The Center also serves as base for the Society’s activities through the generosity of its director, William A. Blair.
The Society made major changes in 2010 with the presenting of the first Tom Watson Brown Book Prize of $50,000 at an award dinner in Charlotte (both sponsored by the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc., of Thomson, Georgia). The idea for a book prize honoring the late Tom Watson Brown of Atlanta grew out of a conversation between his son Tad Brown and Anne Bailey. The first recipient was Dan Sutherland, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, for A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War . (Sutherland had been one of McWhiney’s first graduate students at Wayne State University in the 1970s.) The second winner (2011) was Mark W. Geiger, author of Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri’s Civil War, 1861-1865.
In another change in 2010, the Society began offering the quarterly Journal of the Civil War Era, edited by William A. Blair and published by the University of North Carolina Press, as part of its membership package. Also, the McWhiney Research Foundation in Abilene, Texas, took over as financial sponsor of the SCWH Newsletter.
(Source: SCWH Newsletter files, 1992-)