A Civil War historian said the four-year conflict was not only a challenge for the soldiers fighting in the war, but also for women and families left behind.

“There was a sense of dread,” said Ginette Aley.

Aley covered numerous areas of struggle for women and families during her keynote speech Monday night at the 21st annual Lincoln Event at the University of Saint Mary.

The presentation was titled “The Challenges on the Home Front: Burdens Facing Women & Families During the Civil War.”

Aley said the war forced women and families separated by the conflict to write letters like never before.

“It was their duty,” she said.

She said the war also led women and families into needed activities such as nursing, sewing, filling cartridges, food collection and crop production.

Aley has taught at Virginia Tech University, Drake University, the University of Southern Indiana and Washburn University. She is currently a history professor at Kansas State University where she serves as associate managing editor of “Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains.”

The annual Lincoln Event traditionally takes place on Presidents Day, which was celebrated Monday.

And as always, the event was free and open to the public.

The event, which began in 1999, serves as a chance to showcase the Hall Lincoln Collection on campus. The collection contains more than 10,000 items related to Abraham Lincoln. One of the items is a copy of the 13th Amendment which was signed by Lincoln.

The collection is housed in USM’s Keleher Learning Commons, formerly the De Paul Library. Guided tours can be scheduled by calling 913-758-6306.