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- U.S. Civil War Research
U.S. Civil War Research
Use this guide to find primary and secondary sources for the study of the U.S. Civil War, 1861-1865.
- Getting Started
- Primary Sources
- Confederate Memory
Photo credit: [Young man holding a rifle and its bayonet]. 1860-1869, The UT Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio, 093-0200. Used with permission.
- African American Historical Serials Collection (EBSCO) This link opens in a new windowThis collection of primary sources related to African American life and culture features 173 periodicals spanning from 1816 through 1922. It comprises newspapers and magazines, in addition to reports and annuals from various African American organizations, including churches and educational and service institutions.
- American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection This link opens in a new windowDigital collection of American periodicals published between 1684 and 1912 covering advertising, health, women's issues, science, the history of slavery, industry and professions, religious issues, culture and the arts, and more.
- American Periodicals Series Online, 1741-1940 (ProQuest) This link opens in a new windowOffers full-image access to over 1,100 periodicals published in America between 1741 and 1940. Indexed titles include general interest magazines as well as professional and scholarly journals covering history, politics, the arts and sciences, folklore, and Americana.
- Gerritsen Women's History Collection of Aletta H. Jacobs (ProQuest) This link opens in a new windowCovers 1700s to present. Nearly 4,500 books and 265 journals that trace the evolution of feminism and women's rights in the United States, Britain, Canada, continental Europe, and New Zealand, among other geographic areas. Topics include the nature and role of women, the historical and legal status of women, prostitution, the education of girls and women, biography and autobiography, women writers, marriage and the family, employment of women, women and religion, women's voluntary associations, and many others. Materials available span four centuries and appear in fifteen languages, with English-language summaries available for many titles.
- HeritageQuest Online (ProQuest) This link opens in a new windowA rich collection of research materials for genealogists and historians to trace family histories and American culture. Includes full-image population schedules from the U.S. Census (1790-1950), U.S. City Directories (1821-1989), U.S. Freedman's Bank Records (1861-1875), U.S. Indian Census Rolls (1885-1940), Canadian Census (1825-1921) and more.
- North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories (Alexander Street) This link opens in a new windowChronicles personal accounts of immigration to America and Canada from 1800-1950. Currently includes approximately 37,500 pages of material by 2,162 authors. When completed, the collection will contain over 100,000 pages of letters, diaries, pamphlets, autobiographies, and oral histories, many previously unpublished.
- North American Women's Letters and Diaries (Alexander Street) This link opens in a new windowChronicles various aspects of women's lives in North America from Colonial times through 1950. As the largest collection of women's diaries and correspondence in existence, it includes 150,000 pages of published and previously unpublished letters and diaries by 1,325 women authors. Limited biographical information is included.
- Periodicals Archive Online (PAO) (ProQuest) This link opens in a new windowProvides citations to nearly 14 million articles in the humanities and social sciences. Full-text articles are available from approximately 740 historically significant periodicals in disciplines such as anthropology, area studies, economics, education, history, linguistics and philology, literature, music and the performing arts, and sociology, among others. Includes full-text articles in languages other than English, with significant offerings in Spanish, French, and German.
- ProQuest Congressional This link opens in a new windowComprehensive full image coverage of U.S. Congressional publications 1789-present, Updated daily. Hearings (1824-present); Congressional Research Service Reports (CRS) (1916-present); House and Senate Documents/Reports (1817-present); Legislative Histories (1969-current); Bills & Laws (1776-present); Vote Reports (1987-present); Historical Maps & Images (1789-2007); Congressional Record (daily and bound versions) (1789-present); Regulations; Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations; Presidential Executive Orders.
Member profiles, committee assignments, financial disclosure statements and voting records.
- Hein Online: Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law This link opens in a new windowIncludes all known legal materials on slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world, as well as materials on free African-Americans in the colonies and the U.S. before 1870. Search the entire database or browse by slavery statutes (state and federal), judicial cases, scholarly articles, e-books, bibliography, and external links.
- Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (Alexander Street) This link opens in a new windowProvides access to books, scholarly essays, commentaries, and bibliographies, plus over 1,000 images, 3,600 documents, and 900 links to other websites, documenting the history of women in social movements in the U.S. from colonial times through the twentieth century. In addition, 92 document projects examine interpretive questions concerning women's history throughout this time period. New documents and document projects are added annually.
Digital Primary Sources: National Perspective
- The American Civil War: A Collection of Free Online Primary SourcesA compilation of quality websites containing primary sources about the Civil War. Included are collections of digitized letters, diaries, photographs, maps, official records, battlefield dispatches, and resources about slavery and abolition. From the Association of College and Research Libraries.
- The American Civil War from the Digital Public Library of AmericaPrimary source documents and photographs. Explore topics including the politics of the Union, creating the Confederacy, enlisting armies, military service, African American lives, battles, the war at home, and remembering the Civil War.
- Making of America - Official Civil War RecordsCornell University Libraries makes available The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, as well as The War of Rebellion: The Official Records of the Union and Confederates Armies.
- War of the Rebellion AtlasDigitized maps from Baylor University concerning the Civil War. The maps come from the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, published in 1895. Searchable by keywords, including military personnel, city, state, and geographic features.
- Civil War MapsFrom the Library of Congress, this collection contains detailed battle maps including reconnaissance, sketch, and theater-of-war maps.
- Selected Civil War PhotographsMost of the approximately 7,000 images in this collection were made under the supervision of Mathew B. Brady. They include scenes of of military personnel, battle preparation, and battle after-effects, as well as portraits of both Union and Confederate officers, and a selection of enlisted men. Part of the Library of Congress' American Memory Collection.
Digital Primary Sources: Slavery and Abolition
- Antislavery Collection, 1725-1911Contains several hundred printed pamphlets and books pertaining to slavery and antislavery in New England, 1725-1911. Includes speeches, sermons, proceedings and other publications of organizations such as the American Anti-Slavery Society and the American Colonization Society, and a small number of pro-slavery tracts.
- Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936 to 1938An online collection from the Library of Congress containing more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. Transcripts of interviews with former slaves are organized by state, and then alphabetically by name of informant within each state.
- Digital Library on American SlaveryAn expanding resource compiling various independent online collections focused upon race and slavery in the American South, made searchable through a single, simple interface. Slave petitions, deeds, runaway slave advertisements, and data about the slave trade highlight this collection.
- Florida Slave NarrativesCollected during the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project, these narratives of former slaves provide first hand documentation of what slavery was like in the 1850s and 1860s.
- Frederick Douglass' Papers at the Library of CongressThis collection consists of correspondence, speeches, and articles written by Douglass and his contemporaries. Other items include a draft of his autobiography, financial and legal, paper,s scrapbooks, and miscellaneous items spanning the years 1841 to 1964 with the bulk of the material being from 1862 to 1895.
- African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection of the Library of CongressDigitized content from the Library of Congress African American Pamphlet Collection and the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection with a date range of 1822 through 1909. Most were written by African American authors, though some were written by others on topics of particular importance in African American history. Includes sermons on racial pride and political activism, slave narratives, speeches by members of Congress, legal documents, poetry, playbills, dramas, librettos, and pamphlets pertaining to slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and other related topics.
- Slaves and the Courts, 1740 to 1860A collection of online documents from the Library of Congress including an assortment of trials and cases, reports, arguments, accounts, examinations of cases and decisions, and other works of historical importance.
- The Geography of Slavery in VirginiaA digital collection of advertisements for runaway and captured slaves and servants in 18th and 19th century Virginia newspapers.
- Slavery and Abolition in the US: Select Publications of the 1800sA digital collection of books and pamphlets that demonstrate the varying ideas and beliefs about slavery in the United States as expressed by Americans throughout the 19th century.
- Texas Slavery ProjectThe Texas Slavery Project examines the spread of American slavery into the borderlands between Mexico and the United States during the 1820s to the 1850s. Includes interactive maps, a searchable slave and slaveholder statistical database, and primary documents such as correspondence, newspaper articles, constitutions, legal documents, and laws.
- Virginia Untold: The African American NarrativeSearch the Narrative to find records documenting the lives of pre-1865 African Americans in Virginia. Search by name/keyword, record type, or locality. From the Library of Virginia.
Digital Primary Sources: Southern Perspective
- America's Turning Point: Documenting the Civil War Experience in GeorgiaArchival materials documenting the Atlanta Campaign and the defense of Savannah; the Eastern Theater and Western Theater outside of Georgia; Confederate government records and correspondence of its prominent officials; life on the homefront; slavery; and the Civil War in memory. The records include the diverse experiences and perspectives of military leaders, soldiers, and civilians whose lives were directly impacted by the Civil War.
- Civil War Collection (Western Carolina University)A collection that includes correspondence dating from the earliest years of the war. Troops from western North Carolina kept in touch with family members by exchanging frequent letters to and from the war front. Searchable by family name, regiment, and county.
- Civil War in the American SouthA central portal to access digital collections from the Civil War Era (1850-01865) held by members of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries.
- Confederate ImprintsMore than 4,000 digitized bound and unbound paper imprints, including rare books, pamphlets, government documents, manuscripts, serials, broadsides, maps, and sheet music from the Boston Athenaeum.
- Documenting the American SouthOnline access to text, images, oral histories, and audio files pertaining to Southern history, literature, and culture from UNC-Chapel Hill. Includes first person slave narratives.
- Florida and the Civil WarDigitized collections pertaining to Florida during the Civil War, including soldiers' correspondence and other written material that detail Florida's role during the Civil War.
- North Carolina Civil War Image PortfolioImages depicting the war are from woodcuts, engravings, lithographs, and photographs. The overwhelming majority of these were made by persons accompanying Union forces or were made from sketches and other information they provided.
- Papers of Jefferson DavisA selection of documents from Davis's published papers including speeches, reports, and correspondence. Under "Archives" find a list of available documents.
- South Carolina and the Civil WarEyewitness views and accounts selected from the University of South Carolina Libraries. Books, diaries, sheet music, maps, letters, photographs and illustrations provide glimpses of everyday life during the Civil War.
Digital Primary Sources: Northern Perspective
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of CongressApproximately 20,000 documents including incoming and outgoing correspondence and enclosures, drafts of speeches, notes, and printed material from the 1850s through the end of Lincoln's presidency.
- Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of the United StatesDetailed statements of receipts and expenditures of U.S. Government appropriations, including balances of the current and previous fiscal years, payments during the year, sum carried to surplus funds, and balances unspent at the end of the year. Coverage includes 1793; 1797; 1805-1806; 1812-1828; and 1830-1890. From govinfo.gov
- American Civil War in MissouriThe American Civil War in Missouri collection contains letters, diaries, maps, and military records. Manuscript collections for the Civil War era are often personal accounts of events and actions of Missourians during the conflict and offer valuable insights into how Missourians experienced the Civil War. These collections also shed light on the events leading up to the war and how Missouri moved forward after the war.
- Brooklyn and the Civil WarThis web site explores Brooklyn during the Civil War by presenting primary source documents — photographs, letters, newspaper articles, illustrations, and more — that show what life was like during this period.
- Civil War Collection (University of New Hampshire)This collection highlights New Hampshire's role in the Civil War. Includes text, diaries, and correspondence both from the home front and battlefields.
- Civil War Diaries and Letters (University of Iowa)Diaries, correspondence, and photographs from Iowa soldiers and their families during the American Civil War.
- Civil War WashingtonCivil War Washington examines the U.S. national capital from multiple perspectives and allows users to study, visualize, and theorize, the complex changes in the city between 1860 and 1865 through collections of datasets, images, text, and maps.
- Collected Works of Abraham LincolnIn 1953, the Abraham Lincoln Association published The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, a multi-volume set of Lincoln's correspondence, speeches, and other writings, now available in electronic form.
- Confluence and Crossroads - The Civil War in the American HeartlandA digital repository of information pertaining to the Civil War in southeast Missouri and southern Illinois. The chronological scope of this project is 1854-1877, which represents the time period between the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the end of Reconstruction.
- The Diary of a Civil War NurseA first person narrative by nurse Amanda Akin, who spent fifteen months serving injured soldiers and others at the Armory Square Hospital in Washington, DC. Her letters to her sisters and other missives are included as well courtesy of the Smithsonian's American History Museum. Visitors can explore documents via an interactive map of DC or look though the items based on themes.
- Francis H. Pierpont Civil War Telegram SeriesFrancis H. Pierpont (1814–1899) was elected governor of the “Loyal” or “Restored” Government of Virginia which was formed in Wheeling shortly after the state’s Richmond government left the Union to join the Confederacy in May 1861. Included in this digital collection are more than 850 telegrams documenting Pierpont’s efforts to maintain Union rule in western Virginia during the first two years of the Civil War.
- Kansas Memory: Civil WarItems in this Kansas Historical Society's collection include tintype photographs, diaries, and correspondence.
- The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant & Ulysses S. Grant CollectionThese two digital collections consists of 31 volumes of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, political cartoons from publications such as Harper's Weekly and Puck, and patriotic sheet music.
- Vermonters in the Civil WarA selection of Vermont soldiers' letters and diaries from the University of Vermont and the Vermont Historical Society.
- Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865Documents daily life in Washington, D.C., through the eyes of U.S. Patent Office examiner Horatio Nelson Taft (1806-1888), including Taft's connection with Abraham Lincoln and his family. Of special interest is Taft's description of Lincoln's assassination, based on the accounts of his friends and his son, who was one of the attending physicians at Ford's Theatre the night Lincoln was shot, on April 14, 1865.
- Wisconsin Goes to WarA collection of first person narrative accounts of Wisconsin soldiers and citizens. Includes letters, diaries, poems and other records documenting the state's contributions to the Union victory.