DORSET - To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, Northshire Bookstore, Dorset Theatre Festival and Bennington Museum have created a series of programs throughout the Shires of southwestern Vermont running from May 23 through October.

The "Civil War in Vermont Series" kicks off on May 23 at 6 p.m. with a talk and discussion at the Northshire Bookstore called "The Meaning of Freedom." Seth Bongartz, Hildene's executive director, will discuss Lincoln's relationship with slaves and their pending freedom. Vermont Humanities historian Lars Nielsen will talk about the Jews during the Civil War. The Dorset Theatre Festival's production of the renowned Civil War drama, "The Whipping Man," acts as the springboard for this discussion. This award-winning play follows the story of a Jewish Confederate soldier and two of his former slaves.

The series continues with the opening of the Bennington Museum exhibit "Southwestern Vermont and the Civil War" which will run from May 25 - Oct. 27. On June 30 at 3 p.m., the Northshire Bookstore will host Howard Coffin in a program called "Something Abides: Discovering the Civil War in Today's Vermont."

From July 11 - 20, The Dorset Theatre Festival will present "The Whipping Man" by Matthew Lopez. Related to this play, Bennington Museum will offer a special program in collaboration with the DTF Design Team for "The Whipping Man" called "Conjuring the Civil War: Recreating History." This will take place on July 13 at 2 p.m. at the museum.

At 7 p.m. on Sept. 6, the Northshire Bookstore will host quilt historian Pam Weeks who will offer a special program called "Civil War Quilts." On exhibit from Aug. 31 - Oct. 14 at the Bennington Museum will be the "150th Anniversary of the Jane Stickle Quilt" which will feature this world-renowned example of American Folk Art. The exhibit will be complemented by a presentation featuring Brenda Papadakis, noted authority on Jane Stickle and her quilt. This is scheduled for Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5 and 6, join Brenda Papadakis at the Bennington Museum for special quilting workshops.