The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society
An America's Historical Imprints Collection
The AAS decision to digitize its vast and comprehensive Civil War collection is one of the best pieces of news since the war itself ended at Appomattox.
Harold Holzer, Lincoln scholar and Senior Vice President for Public Affairs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Quick Facts

  • More than 13,500 printed works about the Civil War, all digitized in full color
  • Diverse materials include broadsides, lithographs, books and more
  • Covers cultural, economic, military, political, and social aspects of America’s deadliest war

Overview

From the comprehensive holdings of the American Antiquarian Society comes this remarkable digital edition of its widely used Civil War materials.  Featuring more than 13,500 works published between 1860 and 1922, this fully searchable collection offers printed items addressing all facets of the Civil War—one of the most pivotal events in American history—and its aftermath.  These diverse materials, all filmed in full-resolution color, include broadsides, lithographs, maps, books, pamphlets, photographs, political cartoons, stereographs, and more.  Coverage extends throughout the Civil War and well beyond into the critical postwar period, a time in which modern interpretations of the conflict began to take shape.

New research and teaching opportunities
Created from one of the world’s largest Civil War collections, these newly digitized materials open up an enormous range of fresh research paths for scholars and students. This collection covers military aspects of the deadliest war in U.S. history as well as the far-reaching cultural, economic, political, and social impact of the conflict. Key subject areas include regimental histories, troop rosters, military trials and confiscation of property; medical care, finance, taxation and aid to soldiers and their families; sermons, speeches and treatises covering many of the contemporary intellectual and ideological positions of the time; poetry and music; personal narratives that discuss battles, military life, and experiences in prisoner-of-war camps.

An Archive of Americana collection
The American Civil War Collection is fully integrated into America’s Historical Imprints for seamless searching with Afro-Americana Imprints, American Broadsides and Ephemera, American Pamphlets, The American Slavery Collection and Early American Imprints.

About the American Antiquarian Society
The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) is both a learned society and a major independent research library. The AAS library houses the largest and most accessible collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, periodicals, sheet music and graphic arts material printed from first contact through 1876 in what is now the United States, Canada and the West Indies.  The Society’s holdings of American printed materials dating from 1821 through 1876 are among the strongest anywhere.

Accolades

“I was stunned by the volume and diversity of the Civil War material available at the American Antiquarian Society. On every topic I examined—from infantry training manuals to political satires—the Society’s archives yielded dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of examples. At the end of a month-long research trip to the AAS, I felt like I’d seen only a tiny fraction of the material I wanted to analyze. I’m glad to know that this amazing collection is being digitized. This will be a major boon for scholars and students of the period.”
— Frances M. Clarke, Senior Lecturer, Department of History, University of Sydney

“The AAS decision to digitize its vast and comprehensive Civil War collection is one of the best pieces of news since the war itself ended at Appomattox.  Now one of the greatest such archives in the country will be available online to students and scholars worldwide—and this is a gift that will keep giving for generations.”
— Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar and Senior Vice President for Public Affairs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Among the Civil War collections at the American Antiquarian Society is a political cartoon, clipped from a newspaper, dated July 1863. In it a man and woman walk together, their backs turned to the viewer. The woman wears a long dress printed with flowers, and her left arm is wrapped around the man’s waist. He wears a Union uniform, and it is only when you take a second look that you realize that both of his arms have been amputated. The caption reads, ‘This may seem very bold, and all that sort of thing, on Julia’s part. But he cannot put his arm ‘round HER waist—and something has to be done, you know.’ This cartoon illustrates a number of different aspects of the American Civil War era: the effects of bullets, shot, and shell on soldiers’ bodies; the development of surgical techniques in amputation; the change in gender roles brought on by wartime exigencies; and the worries that Americans had about reintegrating war veterans back into civilian society.

“This one image, rich with associations and of great interest to historians of the Civil War’s military, medical, and gender histories, is filed in a large stack of political cartoons placed in an archive box. But now ‘This may seem very bold’—in addition to thousands of other Civil War imprints in various forms—is available digitally, through Readex’s new collection, The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society. Such a vast and diverse compilation of Civil War texts, which includes broadsides, stereographs, lithographs, and pamphlets, is an amazing resource for anyone studying this conflict, from academic historians to undergraduates to Civil War enthusiasts. The American Civil War Collection makes the American Antiquarian Society’s rare materials available for the first time, and introduces a broad audience to the material world of Civil War America.”
— Megan Kate Nelson, Department of History, Brown University

“For any devoted scholar of the American Civil War there is no greater resource than the collections housed at the American Antiquarian Society. The Society is among the very few archives that contain the range of materials that truly represents the vast print culture generated during the war. Every trip to Worcester, Massachusetts, results in discovering new evidence and prompting new insights. The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922, goes a long way in capturing the qualitative and quantitative aspects of such archival research. Through its breadth of materials, comprehensive cataloging, flexible search features, capacity to drill into and across collections, and excellent scans of publications, documents, and images, scholars can undertake the kind of exploration and discovery that are critical to the experience of working in this incomparable archive.”
— Joshua Brown, Executive Director, American Social History Project, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York

Notable Titles

A Selection of Notable Titles, Including Some Explanatory Notes, Organized Chronologically
(Full title list with additional detail available via email upon request)

A Soldier is my beau: The music of this highly popular song can be had at John J. Daly's music store, 419 Grand Street. New York: Sung with great applause by Miss Fannie Denham (1860)
•    An early Civil War song, which was followed by hundreds of others during the War

Southern refugees in New York, speech of Hon. Henry B. Stanton, Maj. Gregg's letter, Gladstone on the Union, submission rebuked, "Hear both sides" (1860)

Declaration of the immediate cause which induce and justify the secession of South Carolina from the federal union: and the ordinance of secession (1860)
•    Political convention in South Carolina outlining the official defense of secession

Secession is rebellion! rebellion cannot succeed!! The Union is indissoluble except by consent of all the states: An open letter to the Rev. A.A. Lipscomb, D.D. of Tuskegee, Alabama, Chancellor of the University of Georgia (1860)
•    Northern anti-secession appeal to a Southern university chancellor

State sovereignty and the doctrine of coercion / by Wm. D. Porter; together with a letter from Hon. J.K. Paulding, former Sec. of Navy; The right to secede by "states" (1860)
•    Defense of secession published in Charleston as the Civil War begins

A son in the army: A father's advice to his son on leaving the paternal roof to go into the army (1861)

An authentic exposition of the "K.G.C.", "Knights of the Golden Circle", or, A history of secession from 1834 to 1861. Illustrated / By a member of the order (1861)
•    The Knights of the Golden Circle was an influential secret society that supported Southern secession in addition to its original goal of establishing slavery in Mexico

Army regulations: adopted for the use of the Army of the Confederate States, in accordance with late acts of Congress / Revised from the Army regulations of the old U.S. Army, 1857; retaining all that is essential for officers of the line; to which is added, An act for the establishment and organization of the Army of the Confederate States of America; also, Articles of war, for the government of the Army of the Confederate States of America (1861)

Pictures of southern life, social, political, and military / written for the London Times, by William Howard Russell, LL.D., special correspondent (1861)

A manual of military surgery, for the use of surgeons in the Confederate army: with an appendix of the rules and regulations of the medical department of the Confederate army (1861)

Directions to army surgeons on the field of battle [Adopted by the commission and printed for the use of U.S.A. surgeons, by order: Fred. Law Olmsted, secretary.] (1861)

Constitution of the Confederate States of America: adopted unanimously by the Congress of the Confederate States of America (1861)

Instructions for officers and non-commissioned officers of cavalry, on outpost duty / By Lieut-Colonel Von Arentschildt, First Hussars King's German Legion (1861)

Rebellion and witchcraft: A Thanskgiving sermon, preached in Trinity Church, Newark, N.J. (1861)

Regulations for the army of the Confederate States, as adopted by act of Congress, approved March 6, 1861...: Also containing the articles of war, and the acts of Congress for the organization of the army of the Confederate States (1861)

Report concerning the Woman's Central Association of Relief at New York, to the U.S. Sanitary Commission at Washington (1861)

The battle of Bull Run / by William Howard Russell, LL.D., special correspondent of the London Times (1861)
•    The battlefields of the Civil War were not off-limits to journalists, leading to many firsthand accounts like this from the front lines

The right of secession: A review of the message of Jefferson Davis to the Congress of the Confederate States (1861)

Battle of Young's branch, or, Manassas plain, fought July 21, 1861: With maps of the battle field made by actual survey, and the various positions of the regiments and artillery companies placed thereon, with an account of the movements of each, procured from the commanding officer, or an officer of the regiment: Also, an account of the battle. Also, the battle ground of the 18th July, 1861, with General Beauregard's report of said battle (1862)

Journal of Alfred Ely, a prisoner of war in Richmond / edited by Charles Lanman (1862)
•    As the Civil War progressed, many such prisoner of War memoirs would be published by soldier from both North and South

K.G.C.: An authentic exposition of the origin, objects, and secret work of the organization known as the Knights of the Golden Circle (1862)

Kate Morgan and her soldiers (1862)
•    One of many fictional accounts of the role of women in the Civil War

Officers of our Union army and navy: their lives, their portraits / Edited by Dean Dudley, Honorary and corresponding member of several state historical societies; Illustrated with fine-engraved portraits from life by L. Prang & Co. (1862)

Second semi-annual report of the Woman's Central Association of Relief (1862)

Six months among the secessionists: A reliable and thrilling narrative of the sufferings and trials of Miss Sarah L. Palmer, a native of Pennsylvania who, at the opening of the great southern rebellion, was teaching school in Knoxville, the home of Parson Brownlow. In this work Miss Palmer thrillingly depicts the many startling adventures she met with in her flight from state to state and town to town of the Confederate States. Also her pursuit by her disappointed rebel suitor: Splendidly illustrated (1862)
•    An example of personal narratives, this one by a Northern woman in the South

Southern history of the war: The first year of the war (1862)
•    Many such early histories of the Civil War attest to the widespread belief that it would over in months

The chase of the rebel steamer of war Oreto: Commander J.N. Maffitt, C.S.N., into the Bay of Mobile, by the United States steam sloop Oneida. Printed for private circulation (1862)

The commander-in-chief: a defence upon legal grounds of the proclamation of emancipation; and an answer to ex-Judge Curtis' pamphlet, entitled "Executive power" (1862)
•    Many such tracts on the legality of emancipation were published during the year preceding the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863

The drummer boy: a story of the war (In verse.): for the young folks at home / By Cousin John; with illustrations from original designs (1862)
•    An example of children's literature about the Civil War

The rattlesnake: or, The rebel privateer: a tale of the present time / by Ned Buntline (1862)
•    One of many popular novels about the war.

My imprisonment and the first year of abolition rule at Washington / by Mrs. Greenhow     (1863)
•    Written by Confederate spy and Washington socialite Rose O’Neal Greenhow

Six military and patriotic illustrated songs: Elaborately colored. In a novel form (1863)

Notes on the Colours of the National Guard: with some incidental passages of the history of the regiment. From an amateur press, for private distribution (1864)
•    An example of the “amateur press” (private newspapers, often published by children or young adults) that was becoming popular at this time

Precedents of American neutrality: in reply to the speech of Sir Roudell Palmer, attorney general of England, in the British House of Commons (1864)
•    Such documents reflect European foreign policy debates during the Civil War

History of the 116th Regiment U.S.C. Infantry: from its organization in the early part of the spring and summer of 1864, to the present time, giving a list of names of all officers and enlisted men who have ever belonged to the regiment, and remarks attached to each name, noting the dates of all appointments and promotions, &c.; and to the enlisted men place and date of enlistments, deaths, discharges, desertions (1866)

Prison life of Jefferson Davis: Embracing details and incidents in his captivity, particulars concerning his health and habits, together with many conversations on topics of great public interest / by Bvt. Lieut. Col. John J. Craven, M.D., late Surgeon U.S. Vols., and physician of the prisoner during his confinement in Fortress Monrose (1866)

War poetry of the South (1866)

A youth's history of the great civil war in the United States, from 1861 to 1865: With illustrations (1867)
•    Civil War history for young readers

The lost cause: a new southern history of the war of the Confederates: Comprising a full and authentic account of the rise and progress of the late southern confederacy--the campaigns, battles, incidents, and adventures of the most gigantic struggle of the world's history: Drawn from official sources, and approved by the most distinguished Confederate leaders / by Edward A. Pollard, of Virginia, editor of the Richmond "Examiner" during the war; With numerous splendid steel portraits (1867)
•    Some of the most interesting histories of the Civil War were published in the North and South in the years immediately following the War’s end

The story of Aunt Becky's army-life / by Sarah A. Palmer (1867)

Three years in field hospitals of the Army of the Potomac / by Mrs. H. (1867)
•    Many such memoirs were published by nurses who served in the Civil War

Brown University in the Civil War: A memorial (1868)

A resource of war - The credit of the government made immediately available: history of the legal tender paper money issued during the great rebellion. Being a loan without interest and a national currency (1869)

Army life in a black regiment / by Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1870)
•    Memoir reflecting the experiences of African-American soldiers

The American war: cartoons / by Matt Morgan and other English artists; with illustrative notes (1874)
•    Political cartoons about the Civil War from a European perspective

Andersonville: a story of Rebel military prisons (1879)

Statistical record of the armies of the United States (1883)
•    Detailed statistical works like this one are of increasing interest to historians

History of the Confederate States navy: from its organization to the surrender of its last vessel. Its stupendous struggle with the great navy of the United States ; the engagements fought in the rivers and harbors of the South, and upon the high seas ; blockade-running, first use of iron-clads and torpedoes, and privateer history / by J. Thomas Scharf, A.M., LL.D., an officer of the late Confederate States Navy (1887)

A history of the Negro troops in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 / proceeded by a review of the military services of Negroes in ancient and modern times (1888)
•    An example of coverage of African-American soldiers in the Civil War

Life in the Confederate army: being the observations and experiences of an alien in the South during the American Civil War (1888)

Southern war songs; camp-fire, patriotic and sentimental (1890)

A military genius: Life of Anna Ella Carroll, of Maryland ("the great unrecognized member of Lincoln's cabinet") / Compiled from family records and Congressional documents by Sarah Ellen Blackwell (1891)

The American Jew as patriot, soldier and citizen, by Simon Wolf (1895)

The story of American heroism: thrilling narratives of personal adventures during the great Civil War as told by the medal winners and roll of honor men. Copiously illustrated with 300 original engravings, accurately picturing the scenes described (1896)
•    Collections of personal memoirs such as this were widely published in the decades following the War and Reconstruction

Regimental losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865: A treatise on the extent and nature of the mortuary losses in the Union regiments, with full and exhaustive statistics compiled from the official records on file in the state military bureaus and at Washington (1898)

A Virginia girl in the civil war, 1861-1865: being a record of the actual experiences of the wife of a confederate officer / collected and edited by Myrta Lockett Avary (1903)
•    Civil War memoirs by women became increasingly popular in the decades following the War

A belle of the fifties: memoirs of Mrs. Clay, of Alabama, covering social and political life in Washington and the South, 1853-66 / gathered and edited by Ada Sterling; illustrated from contemporary portraits (1904)

A history of the Civil War in the United States, 1861-5 (1905)
•    New histories of the Civil War continued unabated after the turn of the century

Grant, Lincoln, and the freedmen: reminiscences of the Civil War with special reference to the work for the contrabands and freedmen of the Mississippi Valley (1907)

Capture and escape: a narrative of army and prison life (1908)

Recollections of Alexander H. Stephens: his diary kept when a prisoner at Fort Warren, Boston Harbour, 1865: giving incidents and reflections of his prison life and some letters and reminiscences (1910)
•    Diary of Southern soldier in Union prison

The church in the Confederate States: a history of the Protestant Episcopal church in the Confederate States (1912)
•    how churches were affected during the war

The contest for California in 1861: How Colonel E.D. Baker saved the Pacific States to the Union (1912)
•    Detailed regional histories of the Civil War emerged, such as this one covering  the War in the far West

Wisconsin women in the war between the states / by Ethel Alice Hurn, B.A. (1911)

The Elmira prison camp: a history of the military prison at Elmira, N.Y., July 6, 1864, to July 10, 1865; with an appendix, containing names of the Confederate prisoners buried in Woodlawn National Cemetery (1912)

A Confederate girl's diary / by Sarah Morgan Dawson; with an introduction by Warrington Dawson, and with illustrations (1913)

Reminiscences of a soldier's wife: an autobiography / by Mrs. John A. Logan (1913)

Village life in America, 1852-1872: including the period of the American Civil War as told in the diary of a school-girl / by Caroline Cowles Richards; with an introduction by Margaret E. Sangster (1913)
•    Diaries covering the Civil War were still being published well after the turn of the century

The women of the South in war times (1920)
 

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