53 Scholars To Speak at Conference Hosted by Pamplin College and Communication Department

Black and white historical photo of Civil War soldiers reading a newspaper

Scholars from across the country will descend on Augusta University on Nov. 2-4 for the Symposium on the 19th Century Press, the Civil War, and Free Expression.

The 31st annual symposium will feature 53 speakers discussing the African American press, the Civil War, reporting on the arts, frontier myths in the media, presidents and the press, and other timely topics. Two panels of scholars will examine spiritualism and the supernatural in the 19th-Century press.

Among the featured panels will be a roundtable on “Reconstruction and the Public,” featuring AU’s Melissa DeVelvis, assistant professor of history, and Courtney Wilson, history major and research assistant at AU; Brenda Baratto, president of the Confederation of South Carolina Local Historical Societies; and Chelsea Stutz and Ashley Rust, of Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site.

Two Georgia archivists, Aletha Moore-Carter of the Morehouse College Archives at Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, and Sheila McAlister, director of the Digital Library of Georgia, will discuss the use of new technologies in historic preservation along with scholars and historians from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the University of Illinois at Springfield. The panel, “Engaging New Audiences in the 19th Century Press & the Civil War,” will also explore the use of photography, social media, video and art in historical media studies.

“The symposium has long served as an incubator for innovative and interdisciplinary research in media history,” said David Bulla, professor and chair of the AU Communication Department and a member of the Symposium Planning Committee. “We are honored to have it at Augusta University and are thankful that Pamplin Dean Kim Davies supports our hosting the symposium.”

Founded in 1992 by Dr. David B. Sachsman and colleagues in the field of journalism history, the conference’s purpose is to share research and develop a series of monographs. Conference participants have published dozens of volumes of research, while the symposium itself has produced a series of nine books, including most recently The Civil War Soldier and the Press (Routledge, 2023). Presentations have also been aired on C-SPAN3.

The symposium is sponsored by the Society of Nineteenth Century Historians; the Augusta University Communication Department and the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; the Walter and Leona Schmitt Family Foundation Research Fund; the Hazel Dicken-Garcia Fund for the Symposium; and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where the event was held for 30 years.

“We are so grateful for the wonderful welcome that Augusta University has offered to the conference,” said Crompton Burton, chair of the Symposium Planning Committee. “Collaboration on everything from facilities to food service to technical support will make for a successful transition to our new home.”

All sessions are free and open to the public; however, both in-person and remote (Zoom) attendees must register on the society’s website (https://sites.google.com/view/19thcenturyhistorians/conferences/register-for-the-2023-symposium).

Debbie van Tuyll, retired professor of communication and vice president of the American Journalism Historians Association, and Bulla are serving as the liaisons for AU for the symposium.


Professor Sachsman, who was the West Chair at UTC, died last year, and his family will be on hand to pledge its continued support of the symposium.

(Press release provided by Dr. David Bulla.)

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Daniel Routh
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