AGREEMENT REACHED IN CIVIL WAR LIBRARY AND MUSEUM CASE
PHILADELPHIA, October 30, 2002 -- A priceless collection of Civil War artifacts and documents would remain in Philadelphia, to be housed eventually in a new museum within the city, under an agreement in principle announced today by parties involved in litigation concerning the Civil War Library and Museum (CWLM.)
A newly created board of directors would take over ownership and management of the collection, which is currently stored and displayed in a building at 18th and Pine Streets in Philadelphia.
State Senator Vincent J. Fumo, state Representative James Roebuck (both Philadelphia Democrats), state Attorney General Michael Fisher, the current Board of Directors of the CWLM, and the members of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) wrote to Judge Anne E. Lazarus of Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, asking her to suspend the scheduled December 9th trial date because of the progress they made in negotiations. They forwarded a copy of settlement agreement principles for her review.
"Many parties with many divergent interests came together with the common objective of preserving this magnificent collection in the city of Philadelphia," said Fumo. "The CWLM Board is to be commended for its past dedication to the collection and willingness to compromise and to help create a settlement that will allow the collection to assume a prominent place among Philadelphia’s many historical treasures."
"The collection will now be more accessible to tourists, researchers, and residents of the area, and it will increase public awareness of the important role that Philadelphians played in our nation’s Civil War," said Roebuck.
"The goal of the CWLM Board of Governors has always been to safeguard the collection and to make the collection available to the public in a way that would most effectively educate the public about all aspects of the Civil War. In the board's view, this agreement provides a secure home for the collection, under the stewardship of Philadelphia institutions that will effectively carry out the CWLM's mission -- begun more than 100 years ago -- by effectively telling the full story of the war, including the involvement and contributions of Philadelphians in and to the struggle." said Michael A. Schwartz, President of the Civil War Library and Museum Board of Governors.
In 2000, the Board of Directors of the CWLM made plans to transfer much of the collection to a new museum planned for Richmond Va, in part because of financial difficulty in properly maintaining the collection at its current site.
Fumo, Roebuck, MOLLUS, Attorney General Fisher and several historical and civic groups stepped in to prevent the transfer of items outside of the city. The collection consists mainly of loaned and donated items that once belonged to Union officers from Philadelphia and across the country that were gathered by MOLLUS immediately following the conclusion of the Civil War. It includes items from General George Gordon Meade, commander of the Union forces at Gettysburg and a former resident of the neighborhood in which the museum is now located. It also includes items from northern generals Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes, both of whom later became Presidents of the United States.
Fumo, Roebuck, Fisher and MOLLUS sued in 2001 to prevent the transfer of collection items outside the city.
"Had it not been for the Attorney General's leadership on this issue, we would not have been able to craft a settlement that preserves this historically valuable collection for future generations of Philadelphians," Fumo said.
Fumo and Roebuck are committed to obtaining the funds necessary for creation of a new museum and for the continued operation of the current museum at 18th and Pine until a new facility is ready. To that end, they have already secured a state Capital Budget appropriation of $15 million (Senate Bill 1213, now awaiting the signature of the Governor.) They will also assist in raising money from other sources.
"Senator Fumo and Representative Roebuck not only helped stop these important artifacts from being shipped out of Philadelphia, they are committed to raising the necessary funds to ensure that this historic collection has a new home in Philadelphia in the future," Fisher said. "I’m glad that the parties were able to resolve the issues and protect this historic collection.
The proposed settlement agreement would provide the following:
"We are pleased that this collection, which is of great importance to MOLLUS and anyone interested in the Civil War, can now benefit from the many resources contemplated by this agreement" said Herbert K. Zearfoss of MOLLUS, an organization of Union officers and their descendants who assembled the collection. MOLLUS formed the original War Library and Museum in 1888 to hold the collection.
The new 17-member governing board would comprise six members appointed by the CWLM Board, two members appointed by MOLLUS, four members appointed jointly by Fumo, Roebuck and MOLLUS, and five appointed by unanimous consent of the other 12 governors.
The continuing mission of the new board would be to ensure that the collection remains a valuable asset to the people of Philadelphia; to provide access to it in a suitable environment for researchers, writers, students, teachers and the general public; to possibly lend artifacts, photographs, art, books, documents and other materials to qualified institutions such as the Tredegar Museum in Richmond and the National Civil War Museumin Harrisburg, and to receive loans of similar materials; and to arrange exhibits, programs, lectures and other activities related to Philadelphia’s rich Civil War history.
The Board would be expected to establish an immediate three-year plan for enhanced preservation, use and display of the collection, and to develop and open within five years a permanent museum in a new location in the City of Philadelphia, to raise money, to do public outreach to raise awareness of the collection, and to prepare a plan for conservation of collection items.
The parties requested that Judge Lazarus suspend the trial date for 90 days while they work out details of the settlement.
For additional information, contact:
James Straw (Lincoln Foundation) 215-790-1050
Sean Connolly (Attorney General) 717-787-5211
David Moltke-Hansen (Historical Society of Pa.) 215-732-6200
Carol Lawrence (City of Phil.) 215-683-2090
Brent Glass (Pa. Historical & Museum Commission) 717-787-2891
George Hicks (National Civil War Museum) 717-260-9575