Man in Civil War outfit playing drum

Civil War Living History Weekend

Saturday, May 20 & Sunday, May 21 | 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Step into the history of the Civil War

Join us as we step beyond the battlefield and onto the homefront to connect with the people, stories, and ideas that link Genesee Country Village & Museum to America’s greatest conflict – the Civil War. GCV&M’s costumed historic interpreters, tradespeople, and special guests – including Civil War scholars and experts – will present exciting experiences steeped in the details of history relevant to New York State and the Genesee Valley region in the 1860s – and the impacts that continue to reverberate in modern life. 

President Abraham Lincoln – portrayed by internationally known historical interpreter Fritz Klein

Frederick Douglass – portrayed by Rochester’s own David Shakes

Cheyney McKnight and members of Not Your Momma’s History

Marvin-Alonzo Greer and members of the Hannibal Guards (military living historians)

V Spehar – Host of Under The Desk News

Rochester-area military living historians

Wet-Plate Photographer – Dave Wilson (Victorian Photography Studio)

…and more coming soon – check back!

The impact of the war on New York State

The inconsistency between America’s founding freedoms and the lived experience of enslaved persons was thrust into the consciousness of many throughout the country. While no battles took place in New York, more than 400,000 New Yorkers fought in the war. The state played a key role in the Abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. Throughout the weekend, Museum interpreters and guest speakers, and performers will share stories of how the war impacted all residents of New York. 

Join Doug Oakes and Terri Olszowy from the Friends of the Elmira Civil War Prison Camp for a fascinating talk about how the Elmira Prison Camp pivoted from a training facility for Union soldiers to holding for captured Confederates. 

President Lincoln, Mr. Douglass & Special Guests

Special guests President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass (portrayed by historians Fritz Klein and David Shakes respectively), will be on-site throughout the weekend to greet visitors, pose for “likenesses,” and discuss their historical collaboration to recruit and enlist people of color. President Lincoln will make a special foray to the Telegraph Office to share the wartime advantages of this emerging technology. Likewise, Mr. Douglass will share his passion for advocacy via the written word and the growing Abolitionist Movement at the Print Office.

Female soldiers and spies

Join us for a panel discussion with guests Dr. Audrey Scanlan-Teller and Tracey McIntire about women in the Civil War who disguised themselves as men and took up arms to protect the Union. 

We are excited to announce that this panel will be moderated by V Spehar (Under the Desk News)! Stay tuned for more information about the time and day this program will take place. 

Camp life and food preservation

What did soldiers eat while encamped and traveling? How did they ensure that rations would last? When you visit for Civil War Living History Weekend, learn from experts at GCV&M as you explore an encampment. Plus, make your way through the Historic Village and see what our costumed historic cooks are making – even try a sample! 

Visit the Livingston Backus House Kitchen to explore Civil War-era food preservation techniques, and learn from expert Nathan Kalvaitis about roasting green coffee beans to make a hot cup of coffee. 

The fight for citizenship and the USCT experience

Join guest expert Marvin-Alonzo Greer, Lead Historic Interpretation & Community Engagement Officer for the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, for an exploration of Black Americans advocating for citizenship and the USCT (then known as the United States Colored Troops). 

Death and mourning

How did the mass scale of soldiers lost during the Civil War impact how Americans mourned their loved ones? 

Visit Foster House to learn more about death and mourning and explore historical collections. 

Wartime technology, correspondence and more

GCV&M historical interpreters and guest living historians will guide guests as they explore:

  • Wartime engineering – See how necessity spurred invention
  • Advances in communications – Morse Code, the telegraph, and the local print shop together provided a lifeline – and a significant wartime advantage (stop by the Seminary to write a letter to a modern-day veteran living in Buffalo, NY!) 
  • War wounded – About 475,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were wounded but survived battle, rapidly and irreversibly changing the nature of surgery, wound care, and adaptive prosthetics
  • Love letters – Correspondence to and from home provides a glimpse into messages of hope, humor, and heartache between loved ones
  • Explore Civil War-ear music through the musical stylings of Jim Kimball 

Ticket Information

Museum Members: FREE

Adult: $23 

Senior (62+): $20

Student (13 – 18): $20

Youth (3 – 12): $17 

Under 3: FREE


Buy online in advance and SAVE! Tickets will still be available online and at the door day-of, but will increase in price by $2. 


GCV&M Member admission is FREE and guaranteed for this weekend. Click here to learn more about joining the Museum as a Member!

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