Archives & Rare Books Commemorates the Start of the Civil War

Stephen Foster's Civil War song, “Was My Brother in the Battle?”

By Janice Schulz

On April 12, 2011, our country will recognize the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and to commemorate it, the Archives & Rare Books Library has mounted an exhibit highlighting our materials related to the war and the corresponding time period. Documents in the exhibit have been chosen from several of our collecting areas, including Rare Books, Urban Studies, and Local Government Records.

Examples from our collection of composer Stephen Foster’s material begin the exhibit. With stirring titles such as “Was My Brother in the Battle?” and “Willie’ll Roam No Moer,” his Civil War songs have been published with full color drawings that offer a visual image of their themes, providing a combination that must have appealed powerfully to Northern sensibilities.

The ten-volume Photographic History of the Civil War, published to commemorate the war’s fiftieth anniversary, is a stunning collection of thousands of photographs and narratives depicting all aspects of the war. Our exhibit includes a few images from volume one of the set, which focuses on the opening battles.  This set is a must-see for anyone researching the Civil War.

An image of Fort Sumter in September 1863 from The Photographic History of the Civil War

Also offered are Civil War exemption documents from Hamilton County, letters to a Connecticut woman during the years of the war, the complete Colored Citizen newspaper of November 7, 1863, and title pages from some or our Rare Books about the Civil War.

The complete collections can be examined by visiting the Archives & Rare Books Library.