Friday, February 19, 2010

Museum Curator Nears End of Picket Duty

Curator has been living the life of a Civil War soldier for two weeks

(Harrisburg, PA) – Despite two blizzards that blanketed the Harrisburg area with almost four feet of snow, the curator of collections for The National Civil War Museum has continued on his mission to live the life of a Civil War soldier on the picket line 24 hours a day for a 2-week period. Titled, “In Their Footsteps: Walking the Picket Line”, Kelley has been residing in reproduction winter quarters on the Museum grounds in an effort to raise awareness and funds for The National Civil War Museum’s education department since February 6. He wraps up his duty on Saturday, February 20 around 12:00pm. Afterward, Kelley will venture into Gettysburg to have a tintype photograph taken to commemorate his experience.

Kelley, a former Marine and native of Vermont, has survived through two winter storms, extreme winds, green wood that wouldn’t burn, a missing door, and marches through giant snow drifts into areas such as downtown Harrisburg, Camp Curtin, Fort Couch and the Lincoln Cemetery. During the Museum’s Community Free Day on Saturday, February 13, Kelley was greeted by President Lincoln and General Grant, as they applauded his efforts. He has also received a steady stream of visitors with many questions during his encampment, and has given more than a dozen interviews to various national and local media outlets.

“My experiences during the last two weeks have made me develop a new and heightened appreciation for what Civil War soldiers endured during winter encampment. While I have only been in winter quarters for two weeks, these soldiers would have lived in this difficult conditions for a much longer period of time, meanwhile also worrying about being shot or plagued with disease…this is only a snap-shot of what they went through and I am deeply humbled,” stated Kelley.

During this time, Kelley has kept a daily journal to document his experiences for the world, which have been imported into a blog created and maintained by local students from Hershey High School. The Museum’s Facebook page has received a dramatic increase in the number of fans since Kelley began his quest with more than 1,560 fans and counting. He has also acquired followers on Twitter. Videos posted on Facebook, the blog and YouTube have included topics such as Kelley’s experiences during the blizzards, cooking lessons, his marches, and an interview with a local historian about Civil War soldiers buried in a nearby cemetery. Fans and followers have shown their support of Kelley with comments such as, “this is a fantastic thing you are doing,” and “love, love, love the journal posts!”

Money that has been raised as a result of this initiative is being directed to the Museum’s education department. CEO David Patterson commented, “Although donations received for “In Their Footsteps” have not quite been what we had hoped for, the exposure The National Civil War Museum has received has been tremendous, as well as the outpouring of support for Brett from the community.” Patterson continued, “Although Brett’s duty will end on Saturday, it is our hope that individuals will continue to read his journal entries and watch his videos, as they are all part of the educational experience we offer here.” Donations can be made through the end of the year on the Museum’s website: or by calling 717.260.1861 x. 1108.

About The National Civil War Museum
Opened in February 2001, The National Civil War Museum is a non-profit educational institution dedicated solely to the American Civil War. It is the largest Civil War museum that addresses the war from both the Northern and Southern perspective, and from both a military and civilian perspective. The Museum protects some of the nation's treasures, including General Robert E. Lee's personal Bible, and more than 24,000 artifacts, documents and photos, worth an estimated $20 million. Admission to the Museum is $9.00 for adults, $8.00 for seniors, and $7.00 for students with reduced rates for children and families. The Museum offers complimentary ample parking. For more information, please call 717.260.1861, or visit the Museum’s website at

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