Currier and Ives, 1861. Library of Congress

What makes a community break apart? At many moments in American political and religious history, secessionist and separatist movements have threatened to break away from their own communities and to go it alone. In Fall 2018 and Spring 2017, students from several COPLAC campuses participated in ‘Divided Houses’, a digital research seminar in which they researched the history of a secessionist or separatist movement. This website hosts the results of their research – websites built and designed to tell the stories of those movements.

Fall 2018

Spring 2017

These websites show how secession has been a recurring theme in American history. Projects range chronologically from the 17th to the 21st century; geographically, they spread from Boston to the Rocky Mountains. They explain how and why secessionist communities have formed across time and space: who joined these movements? Why did they reject their former community? Why did they consider separation, rather than dialogue and reconciliation, the best solution for their concerns?


“Divided Houses: Secession and Separatist Movements” is a COPLACDigital course taught by Professor Kenneth Owen (History, University of Illinois Springfield) and Professor Mary Beth Mathews (Religious Studies, University of Mary Washington).