who spoke about
"Black Perspectives on Democracy During the Civil War and Reconstruction"

Tuesday, June 11, 2019
at Patton Hall Officers' Club,
214 Jackson Avenue, Ft. Myer, VA  22211
(take the elevator to the right as you enter the building or
take the stairs to the left up one level to the first floor)

6 pm: Social Hour (cash bar)
6:45 pm: Dinner ($36 for dinner and lecture)
8 pm: Lecture ($5 for lecture only)
Reservations Due By June 3, 5pm ET
(cancellations after the due date are non-refundable, as we must pay for the dinners regardless of the actual attendance)
If you have any problems making reservations online or would like to know about alternatives to making reservations or payments online, please email
Non-CWRTDC members must make reservations and remit payment online

Non DoD attendees will need to enter through security at the Hatfield gate; see instructions to enter Ft. Myer HERE
(also see directions here) or (download them in pdf here)Interactive Public Transportation Options are HERE

About the Topic:
In May, attendees to our Round Table meeting enjoyed a wonderful presentation by Dr. Leslie Rowland about the black military experience during the Civil War.  We heard somewhat counter-intuitive new insights about how the jurisdictional limitations in the Emancipation Proclamation as well as the efforts of the Confederacy to re-locate slaves farther away from Union controlled areas might have actually enhanced the end of slavery!  We hope soon to post an audio recording of Dr. Rowland's presentation on our website for members and others who were unable to attend the presentation, at

As our President Gordon Berg stated at the end of that meeting, this month's presentation segues nicely from Dr. Rowland's talk.  On June 11, Susan Eva O’Donovan will speak about her current project, "Heard it Through the Grapevine: Slave Mobility, Information, and Power in Antebellum America," which finds its origins in wartime emancipation and her curiosity about the source of black people’s understandings about, among other things, the nation, citizenship, democracy. 

She explains that the project picks up on the discoveries in her earlier work, Becoming Free in the Cotton South (Harvard University Press, 2007), by examining and understanding black women and men's political lives in the age of secession.  Dr. O'Donovan says, "It is research that reveals the tensions that lay at the heart of a capitalist system that depended heavily on slaves. Most of all, it is research that asks of the past questions still with us today: about the impacts of new technologies of knowledge, and how politics happen." 

The project starts with the eight black men who materialized on the steps of Florida's Fort Pickens on March 1861, asking the Union commander there for their freedom.  He denies their request, of course, and in fact returns them to their owners. Dr. O’Donovan uses that scene to raise a series of questions about what slaves knew, how/when they came to know it, and what they did with that hard-won social and political knowledge.

About the Speaker: 

Dr. O’Donovan received her undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees from the University of California, San Diego, and is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Memphis.  Her research interests include African American history up to 1900, gender and labor, Civil War, emancipation, Reconstruction, and 19th-century U.S. history more generally. 

Dr. O’Donovan offers instruction in Atlantic slavery and freedom from the early colonial period through 1900, historiography, and historical methods, and she directs a graduate seminar on the scholarship of teaching and learning. Students in all her courses and at every level practice historical thinking and argumentative writing, the cornerstone skills of both discipline and democracy.

Dr. O'Donovan's interests led her initially to the "Freedmen and Southern Society Project," at the University of Maryland, where she co-edited two major volumes, and developed the interpretive core of her first book, Becoming Free in the Cotton South, which was awarded the Organization of American History's James A. Rawley Prize in 2008 for the best book in the history of race.

In addition to reading, researching, and writing, Dr. O’Donovan, among other things: (1) co-directs the "Memphis Massacre Project," the first-ever public commemoration of any aspect of Reconstruction; (2) serves as one of the lead investigators for the British-based “After Slavery: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Emancipation Carolinas” project; (3) contributes to and advocates for National History Day; and (4) co-edits “American Nineteenth Century History,” the peer-reviewed journal of the Association of British American Nineteenth Century Historians.


For information about the Round Table and to apply for membership, see the Tab above marked "About Us/ Membership Information" or click HERE