2017-10-05 / Front Page

Dr. Derden will be guest speaker at History in the Park tonight at 7


DR. JOHN K. DERDEN DR. JOHN K. DERDEN Historian Dr. John K. Derden will speak on Camp Lawton – the largest military prison operated by the Confederacy – at the October edition of the Lincoln County His­torical Society’s “History in the Park” lecture series on Thursday, October 5, beginning at 7 p.m.

Camp Lawton’s size, which spanned 42 acres, dwarfed An­dersonville (Camp Sumter), the best-known Confederate prison. Located five miles north of Millen Junction, it was for a brief time the headquarters of Confederate military prisons east of the Mis­sissippi.

The story of Camp Lawton il­lustrates in microcosm virtually every POW issue that arose dur­ing the war. Of the soldiers who enlisted in the Civil War, one in seven became a POW, and one in seven of those died in the prisons. Camp Lawton was little known until 2010, when archaeological investigation revealed numer­ous artifacts left in situ, and Dr. Derden’s 2012 book on Camp Lawton further broadcasts its history.

Derden earned his PhD in his­tory from the University of Geor­gia and was a member of the initial faculty cadre when East Georgia State College, then Emanuel County Junior College, opened in the fall of 1973.

Initially appointed as an instruc­tor in history, he has held the ranks of assistant, associate, and professor of history. He chaired the social science division for many years, and from 1999-2000 he also served as interim vice president for academic affairs. His institutional service has been extensive, ranging from teaching to committee work, grant writing to continuing education involve­ment, and leadership in the Post- Secondary Readiness Enrichment Program.

He retired from full-time service in July 2004, but has continued to work at the college on a part-time basis. Currently, Derden is Profes­sor Emeritus of History; chairs the Vision Series; is responsible for Heritage Center development; and teaches history.

For the academic year 2006- 2007, he served as interim chair of the humanities division at the college. He has taught for Geor­gia Regents University in a study abroad program in Greece and during Fall Semester 201l taught a graduate course for the history department at Georgia Southern University, of which he is an af­filiate member of the graduate faculty.

His most recent professional ac­complishment is the publication of “The World’s Largest Prison: The Story of Camp Lawton.”

Dr. Derden has been active in the community, serving as president of the Emanuel County Historic Preservation Society; a member of the board of grantors of the Mill Creek Foundation; a member of the Exchange Club; a founding member of the Emanuel Arts Center; and in numerous capacities at Swainsboro First United Methodist Church.

On the state level, he served a term on the Georgia National Register Review Board and was elected to three terms as the trea­surer of the Georgia Association of Historians.

He currently serves on the mark­er review board for Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, Inc., which was responsible for the two his­torical markers recently installed in northern Lincoln County.

In a collaborative effort with Georgia Southern University, Dr. Derden also serves as the project historian for the archeological team that has been excavating the site of Camp Lawton, the Con­federate military prison located on the site of Magnolia Springs State Park.

He has also served as a histori­cal consultant for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

He is married to the former Carolyn Graves, and they have two children, Mark and Melanie, along with one grandson.

The Historical Park is located at 147 Lumber Street, and the Histo­ry in the Park lectures are held on the first Thursday of each month from March through November, with the exception of July.

Desserts, water, coffee, and tea will be served after the presen­tation, allowing plenty of time to speak individually with the speaker.

There is no admission fee, how­ever donations to the Historical Society will be accepted, as the Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

For more information, contact Edwards at 757-831-9556.

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