Winner: Civil War and Civil Rights Movement Project Naming Contest

The Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary is pleased to announce the winner of the contest to name Swem’s four-year project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement. The winning name is: “From Fights to Rights: The Long Road to a More Perfect Union.” William and Mary alumnus Charles E. Fulcher, Jr. ’99 will receive a $100 Barnes and Noble gift card for submitting the winning entry.

The “From Fights to Rights” project has three aspects. The first is a series of public programs and exhibits. The first exhibits are now open in Swem Library. A second aspect is the digitization of theses and dissertations by William and Mary alumni on Civil War and Civil Rights topics and their inclusion in the W&M Digital Archive. The final aspect is a massive effort by volunteers to transcribe manuscripts such as diaries and letters from Swem’s Special Collections Research Center and make them available online. The project website will be available later in the spring.

Each aspect of the title has meaning. Fulcher, who majored in history as an undergraduate at William and Mary, thoughtfully explained that the first part of the title “succinctly captures the two landmark events being commemorated: fights (the Civil War, as well as various Civil Rights struggles) and rights (the Civil Rights Movement).” The selection committee thought the rights aspects also applied to the Civil War struggles over states’ rights and the rights of people of color.

Fulcher noted that the “More Perfect Union” phrase comes from the preamble to the United States Constitution, “We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union. . . .” He commented, “This was the dream--the ideal--which was not realized in the language of the Constitution itself, which didn't even allow for blacks as full citizens. Through the course of the fights of the Civil War and the struggles for Civil Rights, this goal of forming a more perfect Union could be realized. . .or at least more fully realized. In this way, it is still a goal, still a work in-progress.” The "Long Road" phrase “illustrates not only that this goal is still in front of us, but also the duration and degree of the challenges we've faced as a nation.” Finally, the word "Union" in the title “also provides a double meaning, with references to the Civil War itself, wherein the U.S. was seeking to preserve the Union, as well as to the goal of unity and equality for all through the Civil Rights Movement.”

The selection committee consisted of Swem staff members. They reviewed sixty-eight entries submitted by William and Mary students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. Given the number and variety of excellent entries, the committee faced a tough job. The committee thanks everyone who participated in the contest and congratulates Charles Fulcher on his winning entry.

Admission to the exhibits at Swem is free. The exhibits currently on display are The Road from "Separate But Equal" to "With All Deliberate Speed": Civil Rights in Public Education in the Marshall (Rotunda) Gallery and "Prejudice so prevalent in the present generation": Slavery at the College of William & Mary in the Special Collections Research Center. Opening next week will be Blundering Generation or Irrepressible Conflict? The Coming of the Civil War in the Marshall (Rotunda) Gallery and the Special Collections Research Center.

For more information about this project, please contact Natasha McFarland, External Communications Coordinator, Swem Library, at or 757-221-3099.