When should the Civil War sesquicentennial be commemorated? Pennsylvania, for one, considers

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Using Web sites and pod casts as teaching tools was one of the ideas discussed at a meeting yesterday to start planning Pennsylvania's 150th, or "sesquicentennial," commemoration of the Civil War...

[Sen. John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center President Andrew] led the discussion that looked at how and when events from the Civil War era should be remembered.

The 100th commemoration of the War Between the States gave short shrift to such topics as slavery and the role of women, he said. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is making sure those subjects get the coverage this time, he said.

A weekend storm kept Linda Shopes, the commission's director for "Telling Pennsylvania's Civil War Stories," in Harrisburg. She sent a statement, however, outlining the four key themes of the state's "New Narratives" project. They are "Slavery and Freedom," "The War's Impact on Local Communities," "Women and the Home Front" and "Commemoration and Memory."

Topics discussed yesterday included when commemorative activities should begin. While the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C., on April 12, 1861, its roots and causes went back many years.

Sam Black, curator of the Heinz Center's African-American collection, argued for an event as early as 2008, which marks the 200th anniversary of U.S. abolition of the Atlantic slave trade. [Britain is marking that anniversary in 2007.]

Others proposed 2009, which will mark the 150th anniversary of John Brown's Raid at Harper's Ferry. Mr. Brown and a small group of abolitionists attacked a U.S. arsenal in what is now West Virginia, seeking to spark and arm a slave rebellion. Mr. Brown was captured by federal troops led by Robert E. Lee, convicted of treason and hanged.

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