The Civil War Round Table of Chicago ("Chicago CWRT") was founded on December 3, 1940, as the very first of over 200 such Round Tables that now meet around the world. For more information about the group visit its website by clicking HERE or pointing your brower to  

The group (or possibly E.B “Pete” Long, one of its founding members) purchased a Webster Electric Ekotape mono tape recorder (copy of advertisement below) and, beginning on September 20, 1951, started to record their meetings.  Hal Ardell, a Chicago CWRT member since 1985 and its Audio Librarian, found out that Patricia Long, Pete Long’s widow, had donated a box of reel-to-reel tapes to the Special Collections Division of the Chicago Public Library following her husband's death.  Mr. Ardell, pledging as collateral his first born son, borrowed the tapes and dubbed them to cassette using a reel-to-reel tape recorder loaned to him by Richard McAdoo, a Chicago CWRT member/ past president.  Mr. Ardell also began to record the Chicago CWRT meetings beginning in 1985 using a standard cassette tape recorder and then later digital recorders.  As of 2016, the Chicago CWRT has hosted almost 600 lectures, and a list of the meetings that have been recorded is posted at

The Chicago CWRT offers CDs of these lectures to the public for a small fee that helps support Civil War Battlefield Preservation efforts.  Please contact the Chicago Civil War Round Table for more information about the availability of these recordings in CD or another format.

For health reasons, Mr. Ardell discontinued recording the lectures in 2013, but Marc Kunis, a CWRT member, has videorecorded the Chicago CWRT lectures and posts them to YouTube at

Mr. DeSoto, past President of the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia, learned about Mr. Ardell's efforts when he was researching whether any audio recordings existed of the founders of the CWRTDC (e.g., Bruce Catton, Virgil Carrington “Pat” Jones).  Indeed, there were several recordings made of selected founders and past presidents of CWRTDC.  With the permission of the Chicago CWRT, certain of these recordings will be posted at  A list of CWRTDC’s recordings is posted under the “Listen To Past Speakers” Tab at

Mr. DeSoto, with the help of member/mentor David E. Hilliard, helps record lectures for CWRTDC and fully appreciates the considerable effort (and devotion) that goes into recording lectures and making them available by cassette or digital media.  For example, a single one hour lecture can easily take as many as 10 hours of set-up and editing to make available to interested listeners.  To preserve what he deems a “Treasure Trove” of recordings made over 65 years ago, and to honor the dedication and enthusiasm of Mr. Ardell to make these recordings and maintain them, Mr. DeSoto offered to assist with digitizing the cassettes on behalf of the the Chicago CWRT.  In so doing, he also edited the tapes (e.g., to delete “ums,” noises, coughs, clear errors, excess pauses, and in some limited cases, discussion).  He also normalized the levels and equalized certain recordings using SoundForge software.

Mr. DeSoto believes that you will find that the lectures are stimulating in their own right, but that they are also remarkable in what is said by the speakers and members about not only the history of the Civil War, but also the current events at the time the lecture was presented.  For information about the founding of the Chicago CWRT as well as other Round Tables, Mr. DeSoto recommends that you listen to the recording made on June 21, 1952, at Gettysburg College, which includes a lecture by Bruce Catton (Vice President of the CWRTDC at the time, noted author . . . and Pete Long's reported  "fact-checker") as well as opening remarks by Elmer Gertz, President of the Chicago CWRT; Henry W.A. Hanson, President of Gettysburg College; J. Walter Coleman, Superintendent, Gettysburg; Ralph G. Newman; Carl F. Haviland, President of the NY CWRT; Robert Self Henry, President of the CWRTDC; and Robert Lee Kincaid, President of of Lincoln Memorial University.

Mr. Ardell thanks Mr. DeSoto for his sincere effort in helping to preserve the audio recordings of the Chicago Civil War Round Table for future generations and, in that regard, offered for inclusion here the passage copied below, written in 1990 by the late Ralph G. Newman, a founding member of the Chicago CWRT and former owner of the Abraham Lincoln Bookshop in Chicago, IL.

"The Civil War Round Table came into existence because a few men (and now also women) wanted to share their enthusiasm and interest in this special period of history with others who were like-minded.  They soon learned that there were many who shared their enthusiasm and love for this unique time in our national past.  They learned that an individual who has an interest in the Civil War need never be lonesome.  Almost every community, every city and town, has one or more individuals with its borders who have a lively curiosity about the years of this entirely American war.  One need only to inquire at a newspaper, library, or book shop to be directed to a person or persons who would drop everything they were doing to join you in a journey to the 1860s.  The Civil War Round Table has provided the perfect vehicle for those who want to travel back to the days of Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee.  Those of us who were present at the beginning rejoice and take pride in the scholarship, fellowship, and good life enjoyed by all during the past 75 years of scholarship.  For us "veterans" it has been a wonderful adventure" 

Sources: Discussions with Mr. Ardell; information in the audio recordings themselves; secondary material (e.g., newsletters of the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia).