Assessing the Sesequicentennial’s Impact

Kevin Levin has offered a fairly strong dissent to Gary Gallagher’s claim that the impact of the Civil War Sesquicentennial has been “anemic” in comparison to what happened between 1961 and 1965. According to Kevin, Gary’s focus on state commissions obscures what has gone on at the local level (neither Kevin nor Gary mention the National Park Service). Apparently, it’s the number of events that impresses Kevin.

I’m not so sure. What exactly are we measuring? The number of events? The money budgeted for those events? Whether the events lived up to expectations? How many people were drawn to the events? Were any minds changed? Has Civil War scholarship changed because of the sesquicentennial? After all, one could argue that the Civil War centennial’s footprint is not all that different … but one would like to know in assessing something exactly what’s being assessed.

And so I ask you: how would you go about assessing the impact of the sesquicentennial? What would you study? What would you count … if anything?