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The South: Culture and History: The Civil War

This library guide is designed for researchers studying any topics related to the South's culture and history.

Civil War Resources

General Collections

American Memory Project--Gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. Offers more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical collections.

Civil War in the American South--"a single, shared point of access to the Civil War digital collections held at many individual libraries" with the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries.

Documenting the American South--A collection of primary sources on Southern history, literature and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century.

Making of America: Cornell University --"a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction."

Sabin Americana, 1500-1926--contains works about the Americas published throughout the world from 1500 to the early 1900's.



Scout gives the call numbers and locations of books in Gorgas and most of the other University Libraries. Many Civil War books are located at call number E 456 on Floor 2M.


Diaries, Letters, and Memoirs

American Civil War: Letters and Diaries--"knits together more than 400 sources of diaries, letters, and memoirs, to provide fast access to thousands of views on almost every aspect of the war."

Letters and Diaries Online--great set of sources from History Matters, including the papers of Abraham Lincoln, sources from Southerners, African-Americans, Civil War families.

North American Women's Letters and Diaries--"largest collection of women's diaries and letters ever assembled. Spanning more than 300 years, it brings the personal experiences of 1,500 women to researchers, students, and general readers to life."



African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 --includes the full text of more than 270 historically significant African American newspapers, published in 36 states.

African American Newspapers: The 19th Century --includes Freedom’s Journal, 1827-1829 (New York, NY); Provincial Freeman, 1854-1857 (Chatham, Canada West); The Colored American Weekly Advocate, 1837-1841 (New York, NY); The North Star, 1847-1851 (Rochester, NY); Frederick Douglass Paper, 1851-1859 (Rochester, NY); The Christian Recorder, 1861-1902; The National Era, 1847-1860 (Washington, D.C.); South Carolina Gazette (1732-1751); Virginia Gazette (1736-1780)

American Periodicals Series Online, 1740-1900--over 1,100 periodicals that first began publishing between 1740 and 1900, including special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children's and women's magazines, and many other historically-significant periodicals. Offers feature articles as well as classifieds and advertisements.

Civil War 1860-1865: A Newspaper Perspective-- contains the full text of major articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865. Coverage begins with the events preceding the outbreak of war at Fort Sumter, continues through the surrender at Appomattox and concludes with the assassination and funeral of Abraham Lincoln.

Early American Newspapers, 1690-1876--early American Newspapers from The American Antiquarian Society, private collections and The Library of Congress, Brown, Harvard, et al. Based on the microfilm collection of the same name.

Google Books--finds not only books but also thousands of magazines articles! You may wish to set "Full view only" to limit your search to only free, full-text works. 

Google News Archive--This special tool from Google allows you to search a variety of news sources from past years.  Please limit to the appropriate date.  Also, please note that you can limit to free sources using the "Price" feature.

Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers--a highly recommended resource.  Offers a trove of American newspapers and magazine, including feature articles, editorials, classifieds, advertisements.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers—a highly recommended resource.  Includes major newspapers of the 19th century, including the New York Times (1851-2001), Wall Street Journal (1877-1988), Washington Post (1889—1987). Offers feature articles as well as classifieds and advertisements.



American Memory  Project--Gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. Particularly noted for its images and multimedia.

ARTstor--over a million historical images, including propaganda posters, artwork, newspaper illustrations, cartoons, photographs, maps, pictures of artifacts and historical costumes. 

Images of the American Civil War: Photographs, Posters and Ephemera--"presents the dramatic imagery of nineteenth-century Americana as experienced from the social, political, and military perspectives…At completion, Images of the American Civil War will contain 75,000 images."

Government Documents

Congressional--provides U.S. federal laws, bills, agency reports, and other government documents from 1789--1969.

Congressional Serial Set--"includes Congressional reports and documents as well as executive agency and departmental reports ordered to be printed by Congress. The Serial Set captures American life from the late 19th century onward from westward expansion, scientific exploration, politics, international relations, business and manufacturing."

HeinOnline--provides access to the Congressional Record/World, full-text of legal periodical articles, Supreme Court opinions, U.S. Attorney General opinions, treaties and international agreements, and the Federal Register. Documents are available as photocopy-equivalent PDF files.

Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America- the records of the CSA Congress, offering the same types of materials as the Congressional Serial Set does for the USA.

Official Records of the War of Rebellion--read letters, dispatches, orders, battle plans, field reports, and other materials of the American Civil War!


Journal Articles (Secondary Sources)

Academic Search Premier- Very useful for starting an article search. Contains citations and full-text entries from hundreds of scholarly and popular periodicals. 

America: History and Life- The premier database for secondary sources in American history. 

American National Biography Online- This database offers biographical essays on famous Southern figures. It also gives you a short list of primary sources on that person.

Black Studies Center- Offers primary and secondary sources on African-American history.

Google Scholar- University of Alabama's portal for Google Scholar. Google Scholar is a special part of Google that only finds scholarly articles. As a UA student, you can access the texts of many of these articles by clicking the links that say "Full-Text @ UAlabama".

JSTOR- Contains thousands of articles from key journals in history, political science, sociology, women's studies, and African-American studies.

UA and the Civil War

The University of Alabama campus is steeped in Civil War history with several landmarks about the conflict. 


photo of stone memorial outside of Gorgas Library

A stone memorial to the UA students who fought in the Civil War lies in front of Gorgas Library.


photo of Little Roundhouse

The Little Roundhouse, located next to Gorgas Library, was a sentry post in the 1860s and one of the few structures to survive the burning of the campus.

photo of Tiffany stained glass

This Tiffany stained glass window in the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library commemorates the UA students who died in the Civil War. 

Civil War Reenactments

Reenactment of battles is a favorite hobby in the South.  The article  Bloodless Battles: The Civil War Reenacted by Rory Turner discusses the history of reenactment as a cultural practice: "This activity has roots in what seems to be an almost universal human need to recall the past...As the 1960 centennial approached, planners thought that battle demonstration would be a dramatic and effective means of commemoration ...Reenactors realized that reenacting history was a lot of fun."

For more on the history of reenactment, search for articles in JSTOR or America: History and Life-

These two pages offers links to civil war reenactment organizations in each Southern state:

Civil War Reanactment Links

Civil War Reenactors Units, Companies