Meeting of February 6, 2014

Robert Branch (Living Historian) on “Octavius V. Catto”

Robert Branch as Octavius V. Catto

Robert Branch as Octavius V. Catto

In the mid-1800s Octavius Valentine Catto blazed new trails for equal rights for people of color. Modern day heroes such as Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Jackie Robinson would walk in his footsteps more than 100 years later. Although Octavius Catto lived a full and dramatic life in Philadelphia, too many Philadelphians have never even heard his name. Until now. W were introduced to one of the most inspirational leaders of all time.

Robert Branch is a native Philadelphian who earned his Bachelor of Science degree for mechanical engineering from Swarthmore College. He won the Innovator award from the Electric Power Research Institute for his work in foundry sand reclamation. He later spent over ten years working with disadvantaged children in South Africa, where he was named Volunteer of the Year. Upon his return to the U.S., he decided to pursue a career as a performer. He works as a historic interpreter, storyteller and tour guide. Robert Branch portrayed Octavius Valentine Catto during Mayor Nutter’s press conference to announce the city’s contribution toward a project to erect a statue at City Hall in Catto’s honor. Robert has also performed Catto to support diversity initiatives at PNC Bank, law firms, universities, and schools.

Octavius Catto (Robert Branch) with Mayor Nutter

Octavius Catto (Robert Branch) with Mayor Nutter

February 2014 Newsletter

Meeting of January 9, 2014

Bruce Sirak on “Charles Smith Olden: New Jersey’s Lincoln”

Bruce Sirak as Gov. Olden

Bruce Sirak as Gov. Olden

Bruce Sirak of Burlington Twp., NJ, is a founding member of the Camp Olden Civil War Round Table, named for New Jersey’s first training camp during the Civil War.

When Bruce was 10 years old, his family visited Gettysburg, where he learned about one of the greatest battles ever fought on American soil. That vacation inspired him to develop a strong interest in the Civil War era, an admiration for patriotism, and great appreciation for all United States veterans. Now he is not able to put down any book about U.S. history, and he has expanded his interest in history to include all world wars.

January 2014 Newsletter

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Paddy Has Gone for a Soldier

The Gloucester County Historical Society will be presenting Paddy Has Gone for a Soldier on Thursday, January 23, 2014, at 7:00 pm in the museum. This unique musical program will be performed by Mike Plunkett, a member of the Libby Prison. The program will consist of songs and stories of Civil War Soldiers, with particular emphasis on the Irish Brigade. Mike has performed this same program at Gettysburg National Park and the National Museum of the Civil Was in Harrisburg, among many other venues.

Admission to the program is $5 per person, members free. Please call the museum ahead to reserve a seat: 856-848-8531. Admission includes an optional tour afterward of the museum’s current exhibit: The Civil War: Echoes of New Jersey’s Finest. The museum is located at 58 N. Broad Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096. Free parking is available on site.

Created Equal

Created Equal: America’s Equal Rights Struggle

A Special program for February, Black History Month 2014

The David Library is partnering with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation by presenting Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle, a month-long program designed to encourage citizens to revisit the history of the civil rights movement, and to reflect on the ideals of freedom and equality that have helped bridge deep racial and cultural divides in the United States of America.


Lincoln Birthday Parade

Annual Lincoln Birthday Celebration Parade and Ceremonies, Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sponsored by the Union League of Philadelphia

Civil War military units, civilians, and heritage groups are welcome and encouraged to march in the parade through Philadelphia to Independence Hall to honor President Lincoln on his birthday. Participants will gather in the McMichael Room of the Union League, 140 S. Broad St. by 11am.

Convenient FREE parking available for participants near the Union League prior to 10:30am.

Color Guards, Firing Party, music, and wreaths are appreciated. There will be a complimentary lunch for the participants at 12 noon. After the parade ALL are invited to return to the League via coach for refreshments in the historic Meredith Café. To register: Contact: Dr. Andy Waskie. 215-204-5452;

Meade Society Symposium

16th Annual Meade Society Symposium: “Meade & Grant – The Virginia Campaigns of 1864”

Sunday, February 16, 2014, 12 Noon – 5PM

Conservatory at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Featuring noted historians Ralph Peters and Tom Huntington, other speakers, and authors on General Meade and the Civil War, as well as books, prints and raffles. Cost: $40 per person including registration; luncheon & refreshments.

Contact: Jerry McCormick, 215-848-7753,

Octavius V. Catto Honor Ceremony

Annual Octavius V. Catto Honor Ceremony, Saturday, February 22, 2014

Corner of 6th & Lombard Streets, Philadelphia, PA at 11 AM

Honoring the great Black civil rights and military leader. Wreath-Laying ceremony. All military units, period civilians, veterans, and heritage groups are encouraged to participate. Colors, wreaths, and music encouraged.

Pennsylvania National Guard Award Ceremony to follow at 1:00pm in the Union League for the Major Catto Medal Awards Ceremony

Temple University Black History Conference

Annual Temple University Black History Conference: Equal Rights, War and Emancipation, Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Civil War & Emancipation Studies at Temple University (CWEST) sponsors the annual Black History Conference at 3:00pm in Walk Auditorium, Ritter Hall, on 12th St & Cecil B. Moore Ave on Main Campus of Temple University.

Free & Open to the public. Speakers; books; discussion; displays.

Lincoln Symposium

Abraham Lincoln Institute and Illinois State Society of Washington, D.C. Present the Seventeenth Annual Symposium – March 22, 2014: “The Latest in Lincoln Scholarship”

Sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Institute of the Mid-Atlantic, Inc.

The 2014 Symposium will be held at the National Archives II, College Park, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C.

March 22, 2014
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
8601 Adelphi Rd
Adelphi, Maryland 20783

Registration Opens February 1, 2014.

Presenters Include
• Fred Martin
• Rich Lowry
• John David Smith
• John Fabian Witt
• Joshua Zeitz