University, battlefield foundation form partnership

Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute and the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation have announced a partnership with both groups collaborating on projects throughout the Shenandoah Valley National Historic District.

According to a Shenandoah University news release, this partnership will allow university students to work on special projects with the battlefields foundation, providing experience in historical research, development of public history programs and historic preservation. The partnership will also allow the battlefields foundation’s small staff to gain support from university students and resources as they tackle various historical projects.

Jonathan Noyalas, director of the university’s McCormick Civil War Institute, said the initial driving force behind the partnership was James Wilkins, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and member of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation board.

“He thought that it would be a no-brainer for two organizations that he cared about so deeply to collaborate on projects, ones which would be beneficial to both Shenandoah University students, Shenandoah University’s Civil War Institute, and the SVBF which lacks appropriate manpower to tackle a variety of projects,” Noyalas added.

Students will have the opportunity to “move from the theoretical practice of history in a traditional classroom setting, to the real-world application in the field, while simultaneously gaining a deeper appreciation for the many valuable Civil War era resources in the Shenandoah Valley,” the release stated.

Noyalas added that the partnership will provide the battlefields foundation access to the university to hold lectures and seminars “in the part of the national historic district that experienced the war most incessantly.”

He said students in Civil War studies will work on a variety of projects. His students are currently researching an artifact from the collections of the Old Courthouse Civil War Museum in downtown Winchester, which is owned by the battlefields foundation. The findings from the projects will be sent to the foundation to assist them as they move forward with redesigning exhibits.

“As part of the collaboration Shenandoah University students will be afforded volunteer opportunities with Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation doing work at their various sites throughout the national historic district, but predominantly focused on the Winchester area,” Noyalas added. “In short this collaborative effort will provide Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation with additional human resources to realize their goals and offer Shenandoah University students the opportunity to gain some real-world experience.”

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com