Toward A More Perfect Union: New Civil War Category in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

Explore the faces, places and events of the U.S. Civil War in a single online location, using a new feature in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.  The “Civil War” category aids research across thousands of images relating to the Civil War that are found in different Prints & Photographs Division collections in a variety of formats: photographs, eyewitness drawings, popular prints, pictorial envelopes, and more.

Prints & Photographs Online Catalog - Civil War search category

Prints & Photographs Online Catalog - Civil War search category

Start your exploration by selecting the “Civil War” tab, and following the links to the search page. Searching names of major figures and organizations (Jefferson Davis, Meade, Sanitary Commission), battles (Gettysburg, Antietam), and simple keywords (music, artillery) will all give you the chance to be an eyewitness to history.

Reconnoisance (sic) of the Enemies position in front of Fairfax Ct. House Oct. 18th 1861. Drawing by Alfred Waud, 1861, Oct. 18.

"Reconnoisance (sic) of the Enemies position in front of Fairfax Ct. House Oct. 18th 1861." Drawing by Alfred Waud, 1861, Oct. 18. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.21304

Here’s an example of how one thing can lead to another when using the Civil War search: I was curious about what was happening 150 years ago this month.  Typing into the “Civil War” search box “1861 October,” I discovered Alfred Waud’s evocative drawings of Union action near Fairfax Court House, Virginia on Oct. 18, 1861.  This led me on a quest for more pictures showing how the war played out in that vicinity.

Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia. Capt. J.B. Howard, Office of Assistant Quartermaster, Army of the Potomac. Photo by Timothy O'Sullivan, 1863 June.

Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia. Capt. J.B. Howard, Office of Assistant Quartermaster, Army of the Potomac. Photo by Timothy O'Sullivan, 1863 June. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cwpb.04040

A search for “Fairfax court house” demonstrated in photographs and drawings how ever-present the war was in an area traversed by both Confederate and Union forces.  Union troops used it as a military headquarters for much of the conflict.

Col. John S. Mosby, C.S.A. Photo, between 1861 and 1865.

Col. John S. Mosby, C.S.A. Photo, between 1861 and 1865. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cwpbh.03240

Pursuing the trail to Fairfax Court House in textual sources, I learned that Confederate Col. John Singleton Mosby carried out a legendary raid on Union forces at Fairfax Court House in 1863.
While I haven’t so far turned up depictions of the raid, Mosby and members of his unit are well represented in portraits accessible through the Civil War search.

The Civil War category already numbers more than 11,000 images, and we are continuously adding items as we identify them.  We hope that making discoveries through this category whets your appetite for tracking down more connections to the Civil War era throughout the pictorial and other Library of Congress collections.

Learn more:

  • For a summary of some of the Prints & Photographs Division’s major Civil War holdings and sources of pictorial materials in other repositories, see:  Civil War – Related Resources
 

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