Springfield History Exhibits

Santa Enlists in the Civil War

November 25th, 2011 through January 8th, 2012

Second Floor

Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History

Santa Enlists in the Civil War

In the 19th century many New Englanders, still rooted in the Puritan tradition, didn’t celebrate Christmas. Even Santa was different. Originally he was an elf-like figure without a beard. But in the middle of the 19th century, Thomas Nast, a New York illustrator, developed a newer version of Santa that is much more in keeping with our present concept. This happened to coincide with the Civil War, waged between 1861 and 1865. This exhibition explores the changing image of Christmas at a time of national crisis through woodcuts of Thomas Nast and Winslow Homer and Civil War artifacts of Springfield residents.

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