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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Historian Takes Civil War Lessons To Schools

Vermont historian Howard Coffin is a popular speaker on the subject of the Civil War.

Now Coffin is engaging Vermont students on the topic and he says they’re a ready audience.

“I love the basic questions I get from kids that I don’t often get from adults,” he says. "‘Who was the best general?’, ‘why did the north win?’ You can have so much fun with good questions like that. And there’s a lot of questions about slavery.”

So far, Coffin has spoken at schools in Concord, Hartford and Brighton, speaking to classes and assemblies and meeting with students and teachers.

Coffin, who is also a VPR commentator, has authored four books on the Civil War. He says much of his presentation to students centers on Lincoln’s Gettysburg address and it's call for the country live up to the promise of the Declaration of Independence.

"That rings so true today, when discrimination still exists, when there isn’t an equal opportunity in society for people to get ahead,” says Coffin.

Coffin’s talks are funded by the Alma Gibbs Donchian Foundation and administered by the Preservation Trust of Vermont.

The talks are being scheduled at schools on a first-come, first-served basis by calling 802-223-1909, or e-mailing

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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