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Civil War Online Resources

The American Civil War (
The site contains balanced, substantive coverage of the Civil War, including its causes, famous battles, and leaders. The content is appropriate for secondary level students, but the sections on food, music, and "fascinating facts" of the war would interest younger learners as well. For the teacher or student, this is a great place to find the "basics."

The American Civil War Homepage
This Web site provides a link to excellent primary materials, including documentary records from the Congressional Globe featuring the proceedings of the U.S. Congress from 1833-73. A subject index makes it easy to access a whole range of issues that were the subject of either Senate or House debates in both the pre and post Civil War period. The documents are reproductions of the actual pages, so the reading may be slow going. This site also has a rich Civil War music section, providing the lyrics to many popular tunes of that period, along with various other primary sources—letters, regimental histories, and biographies. One section allows the user to access documentary information by state, which would be useful for teachers or students with a regional interest.

The Civil War at the Smithsonian (
Produced by the National Portrait Gallery, this site has an extensive image collection of Civil War artifacts. With background information included, the visitor can find anything from Abraham Lincoln’s beaver top hat to examples of uniforms and weapons, or even Confederate postage stamps. Featured also is an impressive array of portraiture, sculptures, and photographs. This site will provide rich material for teachers or students incorporating art into the history content.

Civil War Treasures (from the New York Historical Society)
The images of this digital collection are from the New York Historical Society’s archive of the Civil War. It includes recruiting posters, stereographic views, photography showing the war’s impact on both sides, and drawings and writings by everyday soldiers. The Civil War recruiting poster collection, which provides such a flavor of this Civil War communications medium, is well worth the visit to this site by teachers and students alike. The soldier’s letters are photographic with no accompanying typed text, so while very authentic, they are sometimes a bit difficult to read.

EDSITEment's Civil War Page (
The National Endowment for the Humanities EDSITEment website  has over 33 lessons on causes, the course and the consequences of the Civil War. Each lesson is written by a history or government teacher and is built around critical analysis of primary sources including documents, speeches, images and photographs drawn from vetted websites. Students can examine the causes of the war through multimedia lessons on slavery, sectionalism, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and its repeal in the 1850's, the rise of Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party and his election as president in 1860. They can survey the strengths and weaknesses of the North and South on the eve of the war, the military leaders of the Union and the Confederacy, and the key battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg. The great political speeches of Lincoln's presidency such as the First Inaugural, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural and the politics behind these speeches can be studied in depth. Finally, the aftermath of the war and social, political and economic problems of Reconstruction are covered in three lessons.

The Hargrett Library Rare Map Collection (Civil War) (
This Web site features very specialized period maps, including various Civil War battle maps, including the Gettysburg Campaign, the action at Manassas (Bull Run), and Sherman’s March through Georgia. However, the collection "heavily emphasizes the state of Georgia and the surrounding region." The maps may be printed for educational purposes. Those interested in a more general Civil War search can click onto convenient links provided at this Web site.

Library of Congress/American Memory Learning Page
The Library of Congress has a historical collection called American Memory that offers 7 million items from some 100 historical collections. This Learning Page site was created specifically to assist educators as they use the American Memory collection to teach about American History and culture. If you have never visited this Web site, click on "Getting Started" and then "Site Map" to get oriented. In addition, user-friendly "pathfinders" make it easy to access this amazing array of collections, including those related to a study of the Civil War. Lesson plans are available to support the use of many of these resources in the classroom.

Lincoln’s Papers: Mr. Lincoln’s Virtual Library
As an excellent example of the collections found at the Library of Congress site, (see above), this site features two collections that shed light on the life of Abraham Lincoln. One is The Abraham Lincoln Papers, containing 20,000 documents, most acquired during Lincoln’s presidency. The second is from the "We’ll Sing To Abe Our Song" collection, including more than 200 sheet-music compositions that feature Lincoln and the war as reflected in popular music. Both collections can be accessed at this web address.

The National Archives American Originals: Civil War Collection
This is a digital collection of several documents from the Civil War/Reconstruction Era, including the Dred Scott decision, a communication from Robert E. Lee relating to John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, a telegram from President Lincoln to General Grant during the Petersburg siege, and a parole document for General Lee. Each document is preceded by a brief introduction to establish a historical context.

The National Archives: Digital Classroom Lessons on the Civil War

This site provides teachers with well-developed lessons to accompany an impressive array of primary documents. Click on "Teaching with Documents," then scroll the index to "Civil War and Reconstruction." There you will find a Matthew Brady Photograph Collection, documents relating to equal rights for Black Soldiers in the Civil War, and letters, photos, and telegrams about factors affecting the conduct and outcome of the Civil War.

Selected Civil War Photographs (from the Library of Congress)
Featuring the Print and Photography Section of the Library of Congress, this site offers a rich compendium of photographs, including the works of Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardiner. Bibliographic information, along with any copyright or publishing restrictions, is provided for each photo. Collection contents can be easily accessed through a subject index, and printer copies would enhance both teachers’ lessons or students’ projects. Excellent quality photographic prints can be ordered from the Library of Congress, though there is a charge, and delivery takes up to six weeks.

The United States Civil War Center (
This site acts as an "information clearinghouse" for topics related to the Civil War. It includes special projects developed on a yearly basis, such as "Louisiana Soldiers Database," or a "Collection of Children’s Books about the Civil War." The index includes a huge range of subjects from diplomacy and foreign involvement in the Civil War, battle casualties, civil war memorials, monuments, and parks, even topics of special interest such as boxing and/or tobacco use in the Civil War." The site features a collection of founding documents for both the USA and CSA, including the U.S. and Confederate Constitutions, and the "Official Documents of the War of the Rebellion."

The Valley of the Shadow
A University of Virginia project that analyzes the Civil War from the viewpoint of citizens in two counties, one Northern and the other Southern, this site invites the teacher to involve the class in a conceptually strong, thorough, and sophisticated unit of study. In addition to the project, the site offers additional ways to use excellent resources (photographs, census records, newspapers, letters, and diaries) to extend learning about the Civil War. A teacher wishing to use this project needs access to a networked computer lab in which students can work in groups of no more than three or four. Teachers need to allow lead-time to acquaint themselves, and then their students, with how the information supporting the project’s objectives is arranged. This would be excellent for a case study approach to instruction.

Women Soldiers in the Civil War

This is a single Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives article about female soldiers in both the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. The story relates that women soldiers, who hid their gender and enlisted in the army, fought along side male soldiers, and suffered the same hardships, as did their male counterparts. This would be an ideal article to support a lesson about the roles of women in the Civil War.

--Annotations by Rachel Thompson

Copyright 2002 WETA. All rights reserved.