Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute has received a grant from the Community Foundation of the Northern Shenandoah Valley’s Boxley-Fox Endowment Fund that will support its continued work on a collaborative digital history project being conducted with 18 other institutions across the country.
The MCWI has been working on “‘The Spirit of Freedom’: Preserving Emancipation’s Legacy in the Shenandoah Valley” since Shenandoah was announced as an affiliate partner on the Council of Independent Colleges’ multiyear project “Legacies of American Slavery: Reckoning with the Past” in February 2021. The new grant from the CFNSV’s Boxley-Fox Endowment Fund will allow the MCWI to complete work on its project, develop classroom activities centered around the primary documents contained on the Legacies of American Slavery site, and support the annual maintenance of the site for public access.
The Community Foundation of the Northern Shenandoah Valley’s Boxley-Fox Endowment Fund will allow the McCormick Civil War Institute to complete this important digital history project and make it accessible to the public. The Civil War left no greater legacy than slavery’s annihilation, and this project will help countless individuals come to understand how Blacks in the Shenandoah Valley helped commemorate and preserve emancipation’s legacy. Furthermore, it will show how the Valley, because of the track of emancipation’s history, became a magnet for those seeking to commemorate slavery’s end and use that history as a rallying cry for social and political equality.”
Jonathan Noyalas ’01, M.A., director of Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute
On Sept. 20, the MCWI held its first public event as an affiliate partner in the CIC’s Legacies of American Slavery project in Henkel Hall, Hester Auditorium. A panel that included Noyalas, Bridgewater College Professor Emeritus Stephen Longenecker, Ph.D., Shenandoah graduates Steven Stabler ’21 and Jamie Hunstad ’20, and SU history student Brennan Komelasky ’25 revealed some of its initial findings from 18 months of research into commemorations of the Emancipation Proclamation in the Shenandoah Valley and the other ways Blacks in the area attempted to safeguard the Civil War’s emancipationist legacy in the region.
“We’ve uncovered a wide array of documents showing how emancipation was commemorated and the difficulties that Blacks in the Shenandoah Valley faced in preserving its legacy,” Noyalas said. “Furthermore, the project has resurrected the lives of individuals long-forgotten who played such significant roles.”
The CIC’s “Legacy of American Slavery” project is directed by David W. Blight, a Pulitzer-Prize winning historian and Sterling Professor of American History at Yale University. Blight also is the executive director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition (GLC) at Yale’s MacMillan Center.
Support for the full project is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with supplemental funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
About the Council of Independent Colleges
The Council of Independent Colleges is an association of 765 nonprofit independent colleges and universities, state-based councils of independent colleges, and other higher-education affiliates, that works to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of independent higher education’s contributions to society.