Bowdoin Launches Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Web Site

Story posted June 26, 2008

On the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Bowdoin College launches an online resource dedicated to Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, American Civil War hero, Governor of Maine and Bowdoin College President.

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Undated portrait of Joshua Chamberlain

It was on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, that the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commanded by Col. Chamberlain, fought the Battle of Little Round Top, which culminated in a dramatic downhill bayonet charge — one of the most well-known engagements at Gettysburg and in the Civil War, and for which Chamberlain was awarded the Medal of Honor.

The Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Digital Archive at Bowdoin College provides users the opportunity to explore Chamberlain's life and legacy.

It draws primarily from Bowdoin College's generous Chamberlain collections, offering a digital archive of documents, images and biographical information.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Digital Archive

Up Close and Personal

Resources include Chamberlain's letters to his father, wife and others, such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and King William of Prussia.

Letters are presented both in text and in Chamberlain's hand.

Using Flash and Zoomify technology to deliver high-resolution images for fast, interactive viewing over the Web, visitors to the site may examine each pen stroke and flourish.

Take a Virtual Tour

The Joshua Chamberlain Google Earth page provides an opportunity for the user to take a "flight" through the life of Joshua Chamberlain. The Google Maps page allows you to view the same content in your Web browser.

Many of the points of interest contain links to educationally rich Web sites that provide background on these important locations in the life of Joshua Chamberlain. The interactive software enables the Chamberlain enthusiast to take a virtual tour of the life of this remarkable man from Maine.

A Life of Service

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Chamberlain as Bowdoin College President, ca. 1875

For Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the meaning of life was service.

From the time Chamberlain dedicated himself to study as an undergraduate at Bowdoin College in 1848, to the point at which he retired from public life, he viewed service to the common good as the purpose of a well-lived life and a wellspring of greatness.

Chamberlain had many opportunities to enact this ethic — from the battlefields of the Civil War, where he distinguished himself as perhaps the best of the citizen-generals, to the halls of the governor's mansion of Maine, where he fought innumerable political skirmishes.

Bowdoin College, Chamberlain's alma mater, was fortunate to enjoy Chamberlain's service ethic as well — through his tenure as a member of the faculty before the Civil War, and as President of the College after it.

The Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Digital Archive

The Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Digital Archive, which will continue to evolve and grow, is the result of a 2007 Gibbons Summer Internship project involving David Kelley Thomson '08, history professor Patrick Rael, the George J. Mitchell Department of Archives & Special Collections at Bowdoin College and its director Richard Lindemann. It was conceived and built by David N. Israel, Associate Director of Communications for New Media.

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