Arts, Culture, and Humanities

American Battlefield Trust

Preserve. Educate. Inspire.

aka Civil War Trust

Washington, DC


The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America's hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit organization has protected thousands of acres of battlefield land associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War. Learn more at

Ruling Year


Principal Officer

Mr. O. James Lighthizer

Main Address

1156 15th Street NW, #900

Washington, DC 20005 USA


Civil War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, battle, maps, bull run, fredericksburg, lesson plans





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Historical Societies and Related Activities (A80)

Land Resources Conservation (C34)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Land Preservation



Where we workNew!

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of acres of land protected

Population(s) served


Related program

Land Preservation

Context notes

In 2017, the organization saved 2,474 acres in 11 U.S. states.

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

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What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

The American Battlefield Trust's mission is to preserve America's endangered Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War battlefields. The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the wars' history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it.

Each year the Trust saves thousands of acres of hallowed ground where soldiers fought and died during the American Revolution, War of 1812, and Civil War. Once we save the land it will be preserved in perpetuity because we put easements on all property we save, and generally we turn the land over to a responsible long-term steward such as the National Park Service. We also work to protect battlefield land that is saved, but may be threatened by nearby development pressures such as a big box store or casino that would be detrimental to hallowed nature of the battlefield.

In addition to preserving battlefield land, the Trust conducts programs designed to inform the public about the events and consequences of the wars, foster an understanding of the need for preservation, and create a personal connection to the past. The goal of our education program is to assist teachers across the country so they can make their lessons about American history more engaging and informative for their students.

To preserve battlefield land, the Trust works with willing landowners to purchase their property at fair market value. In order to determine what to buy and what preservation strategy best suits the project we first consult with the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report (“CWSAC"). The CWSAC Report was completed in 1993 by a 15-member Commission established by Congress to identify the most historically significant Civil War sites. Out of the nearly 10,000 battles and skirmishes of the war the report identified 384 principle battlefields worthy of preservation. For Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields, we consult the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) 2007 Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Historic Preservation Study.

Once the American Battlefield Trust determines whether a prospective property is listed as a CWSAC eligible site, we utilize our Geographic Information System (“GIS") computerized mapping capabilities to locate the potential property in relation to the historic landscape. If a property is within the recognized boundary of a CWSAC eligible battlefield we must next determine how best to preserve the property. Generally, the Trust either purchases a permanent conservation easement or purchases the property outright in order to preserve the integrity of the land.

The Trust has been one of the most successful non-profit organizations in America in securing federal, state, local and private matching funds to save battlefields. We then multiply those funds with money raised from our members around the world to raise the money needed to preserve these historic parcels of land.

Our education department reaches out to teachers, students, and the public by creating first-rate content on our website, interpretive signage, classroom resources, and on a suite of exciting technological educational tools.

When we need to stand up to developers and other pressures that would negatively affect battlefields, we work closely with lawmakers and the local community through grassroots efforts to ensure nothing is done to damage the hallowed nature of the battlefield.

Since 1987 the American Battlefield Trust and its predecessor organizations have saved more than 50,000 acres of significant battlefield land in 23 states. This makes the Trust the most effective and successful land heritage preservation organization in the country. We have successfully pulled together federal and state funds, as well as significant donations from our membership base of 50,000 members. This membership base is so generous that they provide the support we need to successfully save the land we have identified as significant that has come on the market.

Our education program has the capacity to create numerous new educational resources that teachers, students, and the public can access from our website. We have expanded this suite of offerings in the last few years, and have created new resources such as our Battle Apps, Animated Maps, and Battlefield 360 offerings. We work with the best historians and experts to have excellent material in these resources.

We are easily able to track our progress by how many acres of battlefield land we save. While the amount of acreage can be important, small parcels can be some of the most significant. We not only judge success by the number of acres saved, but also by what happened on those acres.

To judge the progress of our education department, we can count how many teachers and students we reach in a certain year. We know how many teachers come to our teacher institutes, how many students those teachers teach, how many teachers receive our free curriculum, how many classrooms our travelling trunk visits, how many people visit our website and view various educational resources, and how many people attend our Generations events.

The American Battlefield Trust has saved more than 50,000 acres of Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War battlefield land. This number will continue to grow each year as we preserve more acres using our preservation methods. There are still many parcels of privately owned land that we would like to eventually save, and we will work to save them once they become available.

In 2017 the Trust received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for the eighth year in a row. The Trust is also accredited by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.

Our education has developed 27 lesson plans for teachers to download for free from our website and teach in their classrooms. There are three levels of the curriculum- for elementary school, middle school, and high school. We send four “travelling" trunks that are filled with reproduction Civil War artifacts, books, music and other items to classrooms across the country so that the children can have a hands-on learning experience. Last school year the trunks went to 30 states, 85 classrooms, and reached nearly 10,000 students.

Each year teachers gather at our Teacher Institutes where they take tours and attend sessions to provide them with information and resources that they can take back to the classroom and use in their lessons.

Our website⏤ is one of the premier sources of Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War educational resources. We have a number of battlefield hubs for various battlefields. Each battlefield hub includes items such as battle maps, history articles, historian videos, photo galleries, interactive quizzes, recommended books, travel suggestions, and key facts. Our website includes animated maps so that viewers can better understand the order of the battles. Another new feature on our website is our Battlefield 360 feature. With this feature viewers can feel like they are actually on the battlefield- they can look 360 degrees around them from various points on the battlefield and learn from facts, photos, and videos that pop up.

We have created a series of 14 Battle Apps for smart phones that are virtual battlefield guides that anyone can download for free. Each app has a wealth of information including troop positions, battle facts, the order of battle, pictures and video, and all are GPS enabled so users can see exactly where they are on the battlefield.

To help visitors learn from preserved battlefields, the Trust produces interpretative wayside signs, brochures, driving tours and animated maps. We have recently created interpretive signage and trails at Spring Hill battlefield in Tennessee, and Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Third Winchester battlefields in Virginia.

External Reviews



American Battlefield Trust

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  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2015
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2015
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable


Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable


Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable