The scholars below participated in the NEH Civil War at 150 series and represent some of the leading Civil War historians today. Click on each tab to learn more about them. To hear lectures that provide commentary on the new approaches to studying the Civil War click on Dr. Ayers or Dr. Blight’s pages.

President & CEO, Georgia Historical Society

Born in Virginia and raised in Tennessee, Dr. Groce has 20 years experience in non-profit administration and has led organizations in raising over $30 million for endowment, capital, and educational purposes. He holds a B.A. from the University of Memphis, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee.  Prior to joining the Georgia Historical Society in 1995, Dr. Groce taught history for three years at the University of Tennessee followed by five years as executive director of the East Tennessee Historical Society in Knoxville.  He is an author and frequent lecturer on the history of the American South and U.S. military history, and has appeared on The History Channel, the Discovery Channel and C-SPAN’s Book TV. For more information on Dr. Groce, please visit the Georgia Historical Society website at:

Senior Historian, Georgia Historical Society

Dr. Deaton, a Georgia native, holds bachelors (journalism) and masters (history) degrees from the University of Georgia, and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Florida, where he taught prior to joining GHS.  He serves as managing editor and book review editor for the organization’s award-winning publication, The Georgia History Quarterly.  Dr. Deaton also works closely with the President and Library and Archives staff to develop the archival holdings at GHS.  Dr. Deaton has written articles and book reviews for such publications as The New Georgia Encyclopedia, the Journal of Southern History, and the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.  He is a frequent lecturer on a wide variety of historical subjects. Dr. Deaton can now be heard on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Cover to Cover” as part of their  Southern Lit Cadre.

Dr. Edward Ayers received his bachelors degree from the University of Tennessee and his MA and PhD from Yale. He taught at the University of Virginia for 27 years before he was hired to be the president of the University of Richmond in July 2007. At UVA Dr. Ayers also served as the Dean of Arts and Sciences, and he was named the National Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2003.

A historian of the American South, Dr. Ayers has written and edited ten books. The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished writing in American history and the Beveridge Prize for the best book in English on the history of the Americas since 1492. A pioneer in digital history, Dr. Ayers created The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War, a Web site that has attracted millions of users and won major prizes in the teaching of history.

Dr. Ayers has received a presidential appointment to the National Council on the Humanities, served as a Fulbright professor in the Netherlands, and been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is one of the pre-eminent historians of the American Civil War.

Lectures by Dr. Ayers:

Part 1

Part 2

Elizabeth Brown Pryor is a Senior Diplomat with the American Foreign Service and the author of two books about the Civil War era, Clara Barton: Professional Angel, considered the definitive biography of the pioneering nurse, educator, and Red Cross organizer, and Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee through His Private Letters, for which she won the Lincoln Prize in 2008. Pryor received an undergraduate degree in history from Northwestern University & the University of London, and an M.A. in history from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for 5 years as a historian with the National Park Service before entering the diplomatic service. Working in the U.S. Foreign Service, she has served in a variety of posts, including the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, the U.S. embassy in South Africa, served as a Senior Negotiator on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, as Director for Arms Control on the National Security Council, as well as posts in Sarajevo and the U.S. Mission to NATO.

Dr. David Blight is the Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale University and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale.  His book Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory received eight book awards, including the Lincoln Prize, the Bancroft Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize. He has many other published works, including his most recent, A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Narratives of Emancipation. He is a frequent book reviewer for the Washington Post Book World, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and other newspapers, and appears frequently on documentaries and historical panels like this one.

Lectures by Dr. Blight:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4