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Primary Sources: U.S. Civil War: General
Primary sources related to the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)
Our extensive Civil War collection is divided into these parts to ease the work of students and researchers.
PART I: A NEWSPAPER PERSPECTIVE
PART II: THE SOLDIERS’ PERSPECTIVE
PART III: THE GENERALS’ PERSPECTIVE
PART IV: A MIDWESTERN PERSPECTIVE
PART V: IOWA’S PERSPECTIVE
PART VI: NORTHEAST REGIMENTAL HISTORIES
PART VII: ABRAHAM LINCOLN LIBRARY ABOLITIONIST BOOKS
"The University of Mississippi Civil War Archive provides a sampling of the Archives & Special Collections extensive Civil War primary source holdings. Pulling from various physical collections, these materials document troop movements, social conditions, battles, the home front and an extensive variety of topics."
"... contains items from the Wilbur Collection of Vermontiana that were printed and circulated from 1861 to 1865. Most of the items are related to the war, while a small number are related to Vermont’s efforts to organize and train the state militia after the war. " University of Vermont Libraries
"This online collection provides access to about 7,000 different views and portraits made during the American Civil War (1861-1865) and its immediate aftermath. The images represent the original glass plate negatives made under the supervision of Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner as well as the photographic prints in the Civil War photographs file in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room. These negatives and prints are sometimes referred to as the Anthony-Taylor-Rand-Ordway-Eaton Collection to indicate the previous owners. The Library purchased the negatives in 1943. "
Library of Congress
"The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) is a database containing information about the men who served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Other information on the site includes histories of Union and Confederate regiments, links to descriptions of significant battles, and selected lists of prisoner-of-war records and cemetery records, which will be amended over time. The CWSS is a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and several public and private partners whose goal is to increase Americans' understanding of this decisive era in American history by making information about it widely accessible."
"This collection is comprised of pamphlets, books, broadsides, cartoons, clippings, paintings, maps, and other print memorabilia about America from circa 1830 to 1880. "University of Pennsylvania Department of History
"documents the people of our nation and commonwealth during the Civil War era as told through letters, diaries, photographs, and other manuscripts held in private collections. Between 2011 and 2015, Virginians across the commonwealth eagerly shared their historic collections from the Civil War era through a free digitization and worldwide access project established by a partnership of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, Virginia's local Sesquicentennial committees, and the Library of Virginia. Originally known as the Civil War 150 Legacy Project, the collection was renamed at the close of Virginia's 150th commemoration in honor of the noted Civil War scholar and Commission member Dr. James I. Robertson Jr."
"One of Special Collection’s main collection strengths is the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. In addition to images and military documents – such as muster rolls, generals’ orders, and supply requests – the department also houses a significant amount of correspondence and journals from the time period. As a collective whole, these materials chronicle the evolution of the American Civil War and the immediate aftermath. UT Libraries’ Digital Civil War Collection provides a selection of digitized journals and correspondence. These materials provide unique insight into the era’s military and regional culture by capturing the perspectives and personal experiences of soldiers as well as civilians affected by the war through personal relationships or geographic location. In addition, these materials record political opinions and regional attitudes about topical issues such as slavery and poverty. Each item includes a digital scan of the original document accompanied by a full text transcript."
From the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections:
"This Web presentation is part of a five year/five part effort to highlight program cataloging of the last quarter century, along with related visual content, in observance of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War."
"The Documentary Drawings category includes more than 3,000 drawings made between 1750 and 1970. Eye-witness sketches made during the U.S. Civil War are the most frequently used images. Also included are topographical views, bank note vignettes, portraits, and courtroom sketches. A large group of Russian drawings show areas of China in the 1800s. Among the well-known artists represented by numerous works are William Birch, Howard Brodie, Kenyon Cox, Edwin Forbes, Augustus Kollner, James Fuller Queen, John Rubens Smith, Elihu Vedder, George Wallis, and Alfred and William Waud. " Library of Congress
"Duke holds one of the world’s largest collections of Confederate imprints, or items printed in the Confederate States of America between secession from the Union and the surrender of the Confederate military forces (December 1860-April 1865). Confederate imprints are notable for their fragility and ephemerality, due to the scarcity of high-quality paper and a lack of large publishing and printing houses in the South, as well as for the view their contents give of military and civilian life in the Confederacy. This collection from Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library contains examples of the wide variety of Confederate imprints, from broadsides and printed forms to military manuals and novels."
"Publications authored by philanthropist and social reformer Gerrit Smith, including various circulars, speeches, sermons, and tracts which deal with such topics as abolition, suffrage, temperance, transportation, and the postal system."
From Syracuse Library's Digital Collections
This website explores different aspects of U.S. History from approximately 1857-1912. It includes political cartoons, lesson plans, excerpts from Harper's Weekly, biographies, bibliographies, reference lists, and more. [For access to the Harper's Weekly subscription database go to the A-Z list of databases.]
"This website presents primary source material from the Civil War era in Illinois. These materials include letters, diaries and reminiscences of Union soldiers, as well as important documents, images, and other resources from the home front."
"The Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (ncse) is a free, online scholarly edition of six nineteenth-century periodicals and newspapers. It is a collaboration between Birkbeck, University of London, King’s College London (Centre for Computing in the Humanities and the Department of English), the British Library, and Olive Software. It was funded from January 2005 to December 2007 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The edition is intended to be of use for anybody with an interest in nineteenth-century literature, history or culture, as well as those interested in the history of the press, or print culture more broadly. It combines easy to use browse functions with advanced searching of the content and the metadata"
"Pamplin Historical Park and the Museum of the Civil War Soldier is proud to have among our collection of artifacts and images, a large archive of documents dating from the 18th to 20th Centuries – including the famed Wiley Sword Collection which was donated in 2015. Many of those documents are too delicate for display, so to advance our mission of education and preservation we are making digital versions of these invaluable resources available to the public for use and research."
"contains 370 envelopes illustrated with American Civil war themes. Bound together in one album, the envelopes often depict the American flag, patriotic slogans, and satirical portrayals. Representations include Lady Liberty, Abraham Lincoln, Winfield Scott, and Elmer E. Ellsworth, to name a few. Also, slavery is addressed in some of the envelopes. Moreover, references to the American Revolution are presented. While most of the envelopes focus on Northern people and perspectives, there are some Southern images, focusing mainly on Jefferson Davis. Taken together, these envelopes document the role of patriotism in the Civil War. "
"Few Americans were more involved with the coming of the Civil War than the newspaper editors whose words have been collected here. Circulation-hungry and fiercely devoted to the political parties that sustained them, these writers were passionate and nearly inflexible in their views. The editorials they wrote remind us that the people of the era experienced events not with the comprehensive hindsight and revealed secrets of the historian but rather through the disconnected and opinionated fragments supplied by these journalists."
"The decade began with the U.S. Congress’s Compromise of 1850, which quickly unraveled. Throughout the 1850s, escalating violence—as far away as Kansas and as nearby as the floor of the U.S. Senate—convinced many Americans that no compromise could ever resolve the conflict over slavery. Existing political parties splintered, and new parties were formed amid a body politic roiled by racism, nativism, abolitionism, and class tension. Preoccupying the nation, the political and social crises of the 1850s were reflected in several of the American Museum’s exhibits. Barnum himself underwent a political transformation during this decade, as his horror at the violence in the Kansas territories hastened his move away from the Democrats and toward the newly forged Republican Party. By 1860, Barnum was an ardent supporter of candidate and then President Abraham Lincoln."
"The issues of emancipation and military service were intertwined from the onset of the Civil War. News from Fort Sumter set off a rush by free black men to enlist in U.S. military units. They were turned away, however, because a Federal law dating from 1792 barred Negroes from bearing arms for the U.S. army (although they had served in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812). In Boston disappointed would-be volunteers met and passed a resolution requesting that the Government modify its laws to permit their enlistment."
"The Thomas T. Eckert Papers is an extensive and extraordinarily rare collection of Civil War telegraph messages, including a number of coded communiqués between Abraham Lincoln and officers of the Union Army. The collection is a near-complete archive of Thomas T. Eckert, the head of the military telegraph office of the War Department under Lincoln. The archive, which until recently was thought to have been destroyed, includes crucial correspondence that has never been published."
"... is an electronic archive of two communities in the American Civil War--Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennyslvania. The Valley Web site includes searchable newspapers, population census data, agricultural census data, manufacturing census data, slaveowner census data, and tax records. The Valley Web site also contains letters and diaries, images, maps, church records, and military rosters. The Valley project is a University of Virginia research project funded in part by the National Endowment of the Humanities."
"Connecting people to America's past through the unparalleled story of Virginia. By collecting, preserving, and interpreting the Commonwealth's history, we link past with present and inspire future generations."
"No serious study of the American Civil War is complete without consulting the Official Records. Affectionately known as the "OR", the 128 volumes of the Official Records provide the most comprehensive, authoritative, and voluminous reference on Civil War operations." (Please Note: Portions of the Official Records are currently missing from our site. For a complete version, visit Cornell University Library's web site at http://collections.library.cornell.edu/moa_new/waro.html.)
Book Sources: U.S. Civil War - General
A selection of books/e-books available in Trible Library.
Click the title for location and availability information.
"A collection of first-hand accounts drawn from the extensive records of the National Archives. It explains how black military service helped to destroy slavery; it is a social history of black soldiers; it explains how soldiering shaped the life of black people during and after the war. " Freedom, a documentary history of emancipation, 1861-1867 ; ser. 2.
"The Greenwood Library of American War Reporting presents a unique and unfiltered presentation of American History from colonial days to the present through annotated primary documents of journalists and reporters writing as events occured." ABC-Clio
LAC is a special type of microfiche that covers America up until World War II. It contains a variety of sources including many that pertain to the Civil War era.
Ask at the Circulation Desk for a special lens to aid in reading the fiche.
Many of the titles included in this set are also available online.
Selected Documents "The Webster-Hayne Debate consists of speeches delivered in the United States Senate in January of 1830. Together, these speeches represent every major perspective on "the nature of the Union" in the early nineteenth century."