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Hist 316 Civil War America, 1856-1877: Websites

Information for students taking the History 316: Civil War America, 1846-1877 course.

Selected Websites

There exist a substantial number of reputable sites covering various topics related to the United States Civil War, such as causes, course, and its immediate aftermath.  A limited selection is provided below which can serve as a launching point for further research and discovery.

No search interface is provided.  Rather one navigates the site by browsing through available entry titles (anchor links to major topics included).  Although the site was last revised and closed in  July 2011, the site is still widely cited as an excellent tool for Civil War research.

Civil War @ Smithsonian, Smithsonian National Museum of American History An online exhibit "dedicated to examining the Civil War through the Smithsonian Institution's extensive and manifold collections". Civil War era topics covered include slavery and abolition, leaders, soldiering, life and culture, and more.  A timeline covering period 1859 - 1865 is also provided.

No search interface is provided.  Instead search by clicking on 'Collections' (on the left sidebar) and then browse through any of the twelve collections.  The timeline is a separate tab and is also located on the left sidebar.

Each specific collection has its own search interface, but generally one can search the collections by keyword(s), title, subject index, author, or archival collections.

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database, National Park Service  Database containing information about the men who served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, narrative histories of Union and Confederate regiments, links to descriptions of significant battles and monument graphical images, and selected lists of prisoner-of-war and cemetery records.

Each category has its own specific search interface, but all are user-friendly.  To search within a category follow these steps:

(1)  Click on the category you are interested in (e.g., battles); (2)  Click on 'Explore these records'; (3)  Search options will vary depending on the category being searched, but all are designed to be searched by selecting from drop-down menus.

The Crisis of the Union: An Electronic Archive of Documents about the Causes, Conduct, and Consequences of the US Civil War Hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries and created with the support of the Library Company of Philadelphia this collection of  primary material is  useful in the study of the political, economic,  social, religious, racial and gender issues from  the Civil War era.   The collection is comprised of pamphlets, books, broadsides, cartoons,  clippings, paintings, maps, and other print memorabilia.

A robust search interface is available.  You can search within this resource for information on Civil War history any of the following four ways:

(1) Browse the entire collection (where you can sort by author, title, date (oldest to newest or newest to oldest); or, (2) Subject Search (at the drop down menu select from a variety of subject topics - e.g., African Americans--Civil War; secession); or, (3) Keyword Search (enter keyword(s) in the search box); or, (4) Advanced Search - Any of the following parameters can be search separately or in  combination: keyword(s) within specific fields; subjects; graphic  elements; date range. 


Discovering the Civil War, National Archives and Records Administration  A resource page that provides direct links to related Civil War content available at the National Archives in a variety of formats. A selection of what you can find follows:

  • Archived videos of public programs held at the National Archives, including, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War;
  • Civil War documents, such as, the War Department General Order 143: Creation of the U.S. Colored Troops (1863) and the Telegram Announcing the Surrender of Fort Sumter (1861);
  • Articles from the National Archive's quarterly magazine, Prologue, based on the rich holdings and programs of the National Archives, such as, Black Men in Navy Blue During the Civil War, Women Soldiers of the Civil War, and Honorable Reports Battles, Campaigns, and Skirmishes: Civil War Records and Research.

No search interface is provided.  Rather one navigates the site by browsing through available entry titles.

Making of America  Hosted by the University of Michigan, this is a digital library of primary sources of approximately 10,000 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints covering the time period from the antebellum period through reconstruction, 1850-1877.

A sophisticated search interface is available.  You can search within this resource for information on Civil War history either of two ways:

(1) Keyword Search - Enter keyword(s) in the search box (e.g., secession) and at results screen view all results or choose to view results from books or journal articles; or, (2)  Advanced Search - Access to the advanced search option is not intuitive, but it is a robust search interface.  To access, click on the 'Other Searches in MoA' link located below the keyword search boxFrom here you can conduct a variety of different advanced searches in a user-friendly search interface.  Helpful search tips provided.  To access your search history, simply click on the 'History' tab.