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American History Subject Guide (archived): Civil War

Resources for study and research in United States history

Online access to archives and digital collections

Featured repositories/directories for primary source searching






IMLS Digital Collections and Content
"Brings together cultural heritage collections and exhibits from libraries, museums, and archives from across the country, providing both collection-level and item-level access"

Internet Archive: Civil War
Aims to offer "permanent access for researchers, historians, historical collections that exist in digital format"

Featured digital collections

Internet Modern History Sourcebook:
Civil War

"A (huge) collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly for educational use"

American Civil War Collection at the Electronic Text Center

Companion website to Ken Burns' film The Civil War

Digital Archives from (an online reference guide to African American history)

Discovering the Civil War, an exhibit from the U.S. National Archives

Documenting the American South: Collections

Fold3: Civil War
Online access to US military records, "including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served." Includes Brady photographs.

History Matters: Many Pasts
Over 1000 documents, annotated

Making of America (MoA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction

The Valley of the Shadow (Civil War documents)

Virginia Center for Digital History
Links to several American History digital collections

Lots of links to collections of digitized material: Other libraries' guides

U.S. History: Primary Source Collections Online: Civil War from Sam Huston State University Library

Digitized African American History Sources 

Print indexes to periodical literature

Poole's Index to Periodical Literature 1802-1907
REF 050.011 P785

What is a primary source?

A primary source is...

the evidence of history, first-hand accounts of an event or period of time created by participants or observers.

Examples are...

diaries, letters, news reports, interviews, recordings, photographs, etc.



Chronicling America:
Historic American Newspapers

From the Library of Congress. Search and view newspapers from 1860 -1922, including ones from Vermont.

Make an account (through Castleton) for full access to the New York Times online.

New York Times Historical
Full-text of the New York Times 1851-three years previous. PDF page images. Searchable by date, keyword, article type, page number, and more.

Women in the Civil War

Primary Source Activtiy for Prof. Fleche's FYS

Documents in library holdings

Primary sources in library holdings

Search libraries' catalogs for specific kinds of primary source materials. Try keywords such as

  • personal narrative 
  • correspondence
  • letters
  • diary
  • interview
  • oral
  • eyewitness
  • document/documentary
This is an example of a keyword search that includes terms that are likely to be used to describe primary sources in an online catalog:

(personal narrative* or corresponden* or diar* or interview* or oral or eyewitness or letter* or document*)
and "civil war" and Vermont

(The * substitutes for whatever letters that might come next, so that the search includes any words that start with what's typed but might end differently.  For example, diar* catches diary and diaries and diarist.  Different catalogs use different symbols for this.)

Some sources of documents


The American Republic: Primary Sources
REF 973 Am356

Documents of American History
REF 973 C735d9

America's Struggle with Empire: A Documentary History
REF 973 K155a

Milestone Documents in American History
REF 973 M598 (4 volumes) and online

100 Key Documents in American Democracy
REF 973 On2

Dictionary of American History, Volume 9, Archival Maps and Primary Sources
REF 973.03 D561

Encyclopedia of American Historical Documents
REF 973.03 En1935

Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History, Volume 6, Primary Source Documents
Call Number: REF 973.0496073 En193 and online

Annals of America
(22 volumes of U.S. documentary history)

REF 973.08 An72

The American Nation: Primary Sources
REF 973.7 Am35

Encyclopedia of the American Civil War, Volume 5, Documents

Avalon Project at the Yale Law School-American History: A Documentary Record: 19th century

Core Documents of U.S. Democracy

Primary Documents in American History from the Library of Congress