Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Real Lives Of The Civil War

Working amid hundreds of thousands of Civil War-era documents, images and publications, UNC's librarians and archivists sometimes can't help but play favorites.

The Wilson Special Collections Library at UNC is home to one of the nation's largest assemblages of primary source material about the Civil War. In April, to mark the 150th anniversary of the conflict, Wilson Library launched The Civil War Day by Day. It's an ambitious four-year effort to scour the stacks and post one item each day relating to the corresponding day of the war.

The Wilson Special Collections Library at UNC holds one of the nation's largest assemblages of material about the Civil War. To mark the conflict's 150th anniversary, Wilson Library launched The Civil War Day by Day blog.

Credit: UNC

Through diaries and letters, telegrams, newspaper ads, photographs, maps and mementos, readers of The Civil War Day by Day walk with those who lived through the war, having no idea what their future would hold.

For the staff who encounter and research those items, poignancy and reflection are inevitable. Here’s a look their work and how others can find it.

Every document tells a story. Jason Tomberlin, North Carolina research and instruction librarian, focuses on newspaper ads from the beginning of the conflict. The search for recruits and notices of new cash-only business policies reflect a population thrust into uncertainty.

African American Materials Specialist Holly Smith came across a small notation in the minutes of Chapel Hill's University Baptist Church that marked a huge shift: the departure of African American congregants to form their own church.

For Biff Hollingsworth, collecting and public programming archivist, meaning was more personal. Looking by chance in a box of papers bearing his family's name, he came across a letter apparently removed from the body of a Union soldier, replete with what look to be bullet holes.

The collections of all UNC libraries, including Wilson Library, are open to the public. No special permission is required to use special collections at UNC.

Civil War publications and documentation from Wilson Library can be found online:
  • Civil War Day by Day – blog publishing one item per day during the period of the 150th anniversary of the war.
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection – large scale digitization program for manuscript items in the Southern Historical Collection
  • Documenting the American South – several collections in this digital library relate to the Civil War, including "The Church in the Southern Black Community," "First-Person Narratives of the American South," "Library of Southern Literature" and “North American Slave Narratives.”
  • North Carolina Civil War Image Portfolio – selected woodcuts, engravings, lithographs and photographs depicting the war.
Source: University of North Carolina


  1. Functional Medicine KL that brings together conventional medicine, nutritional medicine, and bio-identical hormone therapy to restore health and enhance youth. Our doctors are here to educate, inspire & empower you to make better decisions regarding your health.

  2. GVS Malaysia
    was founded with a goal to advance positively alongside the local community and in tandem with the group’s strategic expansion plan that would serve both foreign industries and locals alike.