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Penn State University Libraries

The Civil War Collection at Penn State

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This page highlights Penn State's freely available digital collections relating to the Civil War era.

Penn State Collections

Peoples Contest: A Civil War Era Digital Archiving Project - The project website features a growing number of digital collections from the Penn State special collections as well as state wide archives and regional historical societies. The project aims to advance scholarship on the experiences of the northern homefront during the civil war era, beginning in 1851 with Pennsylvanians' resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act and ending in 1874 with the revision of the state constitution. Among the collections which are currently being featured are: The Emilie Davis Diaries, Philip C. Shaffner and Robert H. Ward 1862 Civil War diary, and 1869 accounts, 1862-1869, Descriptive List of Deserters. The site also includes original interpretive essays, expanded digital content, and descriptions of unique collections residing at libraries, archives, and historical societies throught the state. A collaboration of the Richards Civil War Era Center , The Pennsylvania State University Libraries, Senator John Heinz History Center, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

James T. Stuart Family Papers- The strengths of the collection are the military and personal Civil War-era materials associated with 3rd generation James T. Stuart (1837-1902) and his wife Emma Eliza Hunter (1848-1935), and 100 years of family photographs. Most of the military papers are associated with Stuart's tenure as Captain of Company G, 49th Regiment, PA Volunteers (1864-1865). The personal materials include war-time correspondence and some photographs. In addition to the family photographs, there are diaries, memoirs, family histories, and miscellaneous items that illustrate the life of this family and American material culture. Emma Hunter is traditionally believed to be one of the founders of Memorial Day in Boalsburg.

Civil War Era Diaries Portal - Daniel Elias Frantz Diary, Morris W. Hackman Diary, and A.J. Thompson Diary. Includes links to related diaries that are part of the People's Contest project.

Civil War Era Research Guide - A guide to key resources for continuing your research. Includes some subscription databases accessible only by PSU students, faculty, and staff.

Digital 1861 Atlas of Centre County - Reproduction of the earliest known map of Centre County, PA

PA Civil War Regimental Histories - The full-text of accounts from the collections of the Pennsylvania State Library. The regimental histories provide unit rosters and biographies, chronicle life in the military, and record the regiment's role in the sectional conflict.

PA Civil War Era Newspapers - This collection contains all words, photographs, and advertisements from selected newspapers published during the pivotal years before, during, and after the U.S. Civil War. *requires VPN for remote access

PA's Past: Digital Bookshelf - A digital collection of county histories and other works about Pennsylvania, created by the Penn State Libraries, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania State Library in Harrisburg, the Free Library in Philadelphia, and the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh.

PA History Journals - These journals publish scholarship on state, local, and regional history:

PA Biographies - Profiles of thousands of prominent Pennsylvanians who contributed to the development of the Commonwealth in many fields of endeavor.

Pictorial map of the seat of war, showing parts of the states of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and North Carolina, and also the coast line from Cape Henry to Fort Pickens, with the United States blockading fleet.


Other Open Access Collections

Access PA Digital Repository - Primary focus is on collections of interest to the citizens of Pennsylvania. In cooperation with other Pennsylvania agencies including the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, PALINET and PALCI, HSLC/Access PA is working toward a unified approach to digitization in Pennsylvania.

American Memory - Civil War Maps - Civil War Maps brings together materials from three premier collections: the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Library of Virginia. Among the reconnaissance, sketch, and theater-of-war maps are detailed battle maps made by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss for Generals Lee and Jackson, General Sherman's Southern military campaigns, and maps taken from diaries, scrapbooks, and manuscripts- all available from the first time in one place.

Civil War Veterans' Card File, 1861-1866 Indexes - These 3" x 5" cards were initially prepared to serve as an index to Samuel P. Bates' "History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865" (Harrisburg, 1869-1871). The Office of the Adjutant General later expanded the scope of the cards by transcribing onto them data found on the original Civil War Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1861-1866 {series #19.11}.

The Crisis of the Union: An Electronic Archive of Documents about the Causes, Conduct and Consequences of the U.S. Civil War, University of Pennsylvania History Department - A digital exhibit of materials for the study of political, economic, social, religious, racial and gender issues from the Jacksonian Era to the Gilded Age. documents The collection is comprised of pamphlets, books, broadsides, cartoons, clippings, paintings, maps, and other print memorabilia about America during the period 1830 to 1880.  Items are drawn primarily from the collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia.  Links to other catalogues and collections are also available from the site.

The Digital Archives of the Green Free Library - Every newspaper in the database is fully searchable by keyword and date, making it easy to quickly explore historical content. Use the archive to gain a local perspective on historical news, to research your family history, or to simply read about a person or event of interest. We invite you to visit the archive often, as additional pages will be added as they become available. This archive is hosted by largest historical newspaper database online.

Gettysburg College Civil War Era Collection - This is home to many unique 19th century resources. This digital repository offers a sampling of a broader collection that includes political cartoons, letters, photographs, maps and artifacts relating to the Civil War Era.

History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865 - History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5; prepared in compliance with acts of the legislature, by Samuel P. Bates. Harrisburg, B. Singerly, state printer, 1869-71.

House Divided, Dickenson College - The House Divided website presents materials from our collections in daily format with plans to cover the period, 1840 to 1880.

Indiana County in the Civil War Era - This website is a project of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Special Collections Library. The site hosts a digital archive of primary sources from the Civil War.

Lancaster Examiner and Herald - 1834-1872 - The digitized newspaper is part of the Access Pennsylvania Digital Repository. The newspaper has been divided into two collections: LancasterCountyLancasterExaminer & Herald, 1834-1854; LancasterCountyLancasterExaminer & Herald, 1855-1872

McAllister Collection of Civil War Era Printed Ephemera, Graphics and Manuscripts - Extensive collection of material relating to the American Civil War, and mid-nineteenth century politics, social and cultural events, and organizations in Philadelphia and the region. Items include recruiting posters, photographs,, advertisements, playing cards,political broadsides, cartoons and other illustrations, as well as ribbons, buttons, and other ephemerial items documenting the Philadelphia home front. 

PA Civil War 150 - Understand the war through people then and now.

Pennsylvania Civil War Project/ Pennsylvanians in the Civil War - The Pennsylvania Civil War Project uses the book:  History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5; prepared in compliance with acts of the legislature by Samuel P. Bates., Bates, Samuel P. (Samuel Penniman), 1827-1902.



Pennsylvania Scrap Book Necrology - It is compromised of a collection of 82 volumes that contain newspaper clippings of obituaries of Civil War soldiers mentioned in various Pennsylvania newspapers in the years 1891 to 1904.



Smeed, E.C. Letters - Susquehanna University hosts this collection of letters by a Division Engineer stationed at Resaca, GA between October and December 1864.

Valley of the Shadow - The Valley of the Shadow is an electronic archive of two communities in the American Civil War-- Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The Valley Web site includes searchable newspapers, population census data, agricultural census data, manufacturing census data, slaveowner census data, and tax records. The Valley Web site also contains letters and diaries, images, maps, church records, and military rosters. The Valley project is a University of Virginia research project funded in part by the National Endowment of the Humanities.

The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies - These include selected first-hand accounts, orders, reports, maps, diagrams, and correspondence drawn from War and Navy department records of both Confederate and Union governments.

The Pennsylvania State Library

Digitized Pennsylvania Historic Newspapers - The State Library of Pennsylvania continues to add digitized copies of historical Pennsylvania newspapers to the AccessPA Digital Repository.

Directory of Digitized Pennsylvania Newspapers - This is an informal guide to historical Pennsylvania newspapers that have been digitized.

Regimental Histories - Regimental histories are valuable research sources that offer a unique perspective for the study of the Civil War. They provide details on the organization and achievements of a particular unit, often focusing on wartime activities.

Civil War Collection - A Collection of the Access Pennsylvania Digital Repository

Lincoln Collection - A representative sample of items on Abraham Lincoln in the State Library's collection.