Renowned American race and slavery historian Peter H. Wood to present Civil War lecture to launch Phifer History Speaker Series at Coe

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or

2015-02-06 10:52:51 - General

Peter H. Wood
Peter H. Wood

Renowned American race and slavery historian Peter H. Wood will present a Civil War lecture as the inaugural event in the James and Linnie Phifer History Speaker Series. The presentation will be held on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. in Kesler Lecture Hall of Hickok Hall on the Coe College campus. Professor Wood's lecture will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of slavery and the Civil War, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement. The event is free and open to the public.

Near the end of the Civil War, the great American artist Winslow Homer created a striking painting that linked Civil War military experiences with the African-American struggle for freedom. The painting vanished for almost a century after its completion, being rediscovered during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. As the first scholar to explore it closely, Wood suggests that Homer's image provides a new way for Americans to view slavery, the Civil War, Civil Rights and American culture's lingering reluctance to confront its own painful past.

Wood is professor emeritus of history at Duke University, where he taught for more than 30 years. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a Rhodes Scholar. Wood is widely recognized as a leading scholar of American race and slavery, with his landmark book "Black Majority" (1974) recognized as a classic in the field. He is the author of numerous other books, including "Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial America" (2003), "Weathering the Storm: Inside Winslow Homer's 'Gulf Stream'" (2004), and "Winslow Homer's Images of Blacks: The Civil War and Reconstruction Years" (with Karen Dalton, 1988). He has appeared in several PBS programs including "Africans in America" (1998) and "Free to Dance" (2001). In 2011, he received the Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award from the American Historical Association for outstanding teaching and advocacy for history teaching.

The James and Linnie Phifer History Speaker Series is named in honor of President Emeritus James Phifer and his wife, Linnie, in recognition of their nearly three decades of distinguished service to Coe College. Throughout his higher education career, President Phifer's academic and scholarly interests were in history.

The event is sponsored by the Coe College History Department, with additional support from the Committee on Diversity. For more information, visit or call 399-8581.