Civil War Speakers
- Commissioner Susan Whitaker Commissioner - Tennessee Department of Tourist Development; Co-Chair, Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission Read Biography »
- Dr. Carroll Van West Director, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area & Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University; Co-Chair, Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission Read Biography »
Superintendent, Shiloh National Battlefield
Woody Harrell became the thirteenth Superintendent of Shiloh National Military Park on August 28, 1990. His prior duties with the National Park Service included assignments at Moores Creek National Military Park; the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina; Fort Raleigh National Historic Site; Cape Hatteras National Seashore; the "Gateway Arch" in St. Louis; and the Park Service training center at the Grand Canyon. However, the majority of Woody's career has been spent in working on the Park Service's "Cannonball Circuit." Before coming to southwest Tennessee, he served as Park Historian at both Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park and Manassas National Battlefield Park.
In an era of decreasing budgets and limited resources, Harrell has maintained Shiloh's status as "America's best preserved battlefield," stressing preservation, commemoration, and education at the 114-year old park. Woody fought and won a decade long battle to halt riverbank erosion at the park's Shiloh Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark. He was a driving force in establishing Hardin County's Tennessee River Museum as a major regional cultural facility, and originated the "Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System," an ambitious Park Service computer project that allows visitors to access information on over 5 million Civil War participants. In preparation for Shiloh Park's 100th anniversary, he organized three "Grand Illuminations" of Shiloh Battlefield: the lighting of 23,746 candles; one for each American soldier killed, wounded, or missing in the western theater's first major battle. Woody also has overseen the park's most ambitious land acquisition program in 80 years, and has worked closely with the local community to bring about a major expansion of the park into Alcorn County, Mississippi. He directed design and construction of a $9,500,000, 13,000-square foot interpretive center at Shiloh's new Corinth Unit. In 2002, Woody was presented the Civil War Preservation Trust's "Preservationist of the Year" award. He also was honored in a joint resolution of the Tennessee legislature for his "abundant contribution to the preservation of the history of our state and nation."
A North Carolina native, Woody holds degrees in history and geography from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He can recite the first 15 lines of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" in Middle English, and can name all U.S. Presidents who served before his birth. Woody finished 208th in the 1973 Boston Marathon, and holds the National Park Service record for running rim to rim across the Grand Canyon [3 hours, 23 minutes, 34 seconds (11/23/77)]. Woody currently resides in Corinth, equidistant from Shiloh Battlefield and the Crow's Neck Environmental Education Center, where his wife Cynthia is executive director. He has visited all 391 of America's national park units, and once rode a bicycle from Grand View Point on the south rim to the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. In 1966, Woody was chosen as Time Magazine's "Man of the Year."