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Inside the Vaults: Discover the Civil War

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I’m always on the hunt for something new in Civil War exhibitions. The good folks at the National Archives and Records Administration have produced a brief video about their exhibition, “Discovering the Civil War” which you can view by clicking the image below.

Inside the Vaults

Inside_the_Vaults_National_Archives

In the exhibition, they “share little-known facts and extraordinary discoveries found in the incomparable Civil War holdings at the National Archives.” Many stories and documents “are shared for the first time in this exhibition, the most extensive display ever assembled from these records.” A highlight is “rarely-seen original footage from Civil War reunions in 1917 in Vicksburg, MS, and 1938 in Gettysburg, PA.”

The exhibit invites visitors to consider and ask questions about the evidence found in the records, listen to a wide variety of voices from the Civil War era, and make up their own minds about the struggle that tore apart these United States.

The exhibit will feature fascinating environments and compelling interactives, but what makes the exhibit extraordinary is surprising records. Displayed alongside famous milestone documents will be hundreds of less well-known ones, such as the unratified 1861 version of the 13th amendment, a message from a Southern governor rejecting Lincoln’s call for troops to put down the rebellion, and the Constitution of the Confederacy.

Shown in two parts in Washington D.C., Discovering the Civil War” Part One, “Beginnings,” ran from April 30, 2010, through September 6, 2010. Part Two, “Consequences,” opened November 10, 2010, at the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

After the Washington venue closes on April 17, 2011, the two parts of “Discovering the Civil War” will be combined and travel to seven additional venues around the country beginning in June 2011. I’m hopeful that Kansas City will be one of them!

The exhibition’s very fine website is accessible here.

The National Archives Discovering the Civil War

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NARAtions: The Blog (and Wiki) of the United States National Archives

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I am adding  NARAtions to my blogroll along with other sites that help me with my research. I’m sure this won’t be news to many of you but NARAtions is, as my article title suggests, the U.S. National Archives blog. The stated purpose…

We began this blog because we are hoping to talk with you about online public access to the records held by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).   We care about improving your researcher experience.

There are currently seven bloggers most of whom appear to be “history geeks” – a phrase I use only with the utmost respect and admiration.

As I embark on my own thesis research in Civil War naval history, I am both appreciative and disappointed with what is online from our National Archives. Apparently,  the cost of digitization means that a small percentage of available materials have been digitized. What a shame that there isn’t more. Interestingly, ancestry.com has pension records for soldiers and sailors of the American Civil War and I have full access to the site (yes a pretty penny).

NARAtions

They’ve also created a Wiki called “Our Archives” where the public can contribute. It is accessible here. This could actually be a good thing if adopted. It will be interesting to see if it is given more respect among historians than other Wikis. The stated purpose of the Wiki is as follows:

Our Archives is an online space for researchers, educators, genealogists, and Archives staff to share information and knowledge about the records of the National Archives and about their research.

Our Archives Wiki

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