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Learn more about the defining experience of a generation. 

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Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor icon

The Naval History of the Civil War icon

Locating Union & Confederate Records

New! Original Civil War Documents available in the Civil War Shop!

"Civil War Extra" Commemorative Newspaper

The Flags of Civil War North Carolina icon

Baton Rouge: A Civil War Album

Campaigns of the Civil War on CD-ROM

From Corsicana To Appomattox: The Story Of The Corsican Invincibles And The Navarro Rifles icon

When the Ripe Pears Fell: The Battle of Richmond, Kentucky

Whispers from the Past: A Source Book of Civil War Veterans' Personal Histories

Civil War Front Pages icon

Comprehensive Catalog of Confederate Paper Money icon

Units of the Confederate States Army icon

Dark and Bloody Ground: The Battle of Mansfield and the Forgotten Civil War in Louisiana icon

Blue and Gray in Black and White: Newspapers in the Civil War icon

Explore Ancestry 's Civil War Research Database !

Did you Civil War ancestor fight to save the Union? To defend his home?  To free himself from slavery and bondage? 

Was he a Northern civilian, reading about the war in the newspapers?  Was he a Southern civilian, too old or too sick or too crippled to join a regiment? Was he an immigrant just off a European boat, short on English but long on draft-ability? 

Did she rear her children with an a hostile army camped in her yard? Did she have to leave her home as shells whistled nearer and nearer? Did she and her children wait anxiously for news from a husband and father gone far away to fight? Did she wonder whether she would ever see her only brother again? Did she join her neighbors and sisters and aunts to knit socks for soldiers?

What was it like?

It's hard to know today, though diaries and letters and memoirs do survive. I have only one family story that's been passed down to me about my own great-grandparents (the generation in my family who lived through the Civil War), and no physical artifacts other than copies of 2 photographs: one of Mary Virginia Dowdy (1850-1921) and one of James William and  a copy of a photograph of Mary Virginia Dowdy, my great-grandmother (1850-1921).

 Unfortunately, if you're like me, you may have almost nothing at all. That's when we rely on historical context: we learn as much as we can about their communities, their neighbors, their occupations and the lifestyles of others of their socioeconomic class and social standing. 

We learn everything we can about events they would have experienced, whether those events were local (an early rainy season that wiped out a cotton crop) or global (a world war, the 1918 flu epidemic).

Ancestry.com has several excellent articles on the subject of historical context in their online library. Browse their historical context library archive for more information, including such articles as

  • Civil War Records: Valuable Sources for Genealogists by Kip Sperry

  • The Transition from Slavery to Freedom by David Thackery

  • The Civil War Prison at Andersonville by William G. Burnett

and others. Many other subjects are covered as well.

This is a new section and will be growing as I add new links. Be sure to stop back by and see what's new!

New Link! Civil War News: Current events newspaper covering the American Civil War, Battlefields and Historic Site

New Link! Article from Garden & Gun magazine: A Life in Pictures Collector David Vaughan keeps the memory of Civil War soldiers alive—and on display.

Illinois Civil War Veterans Database  

Online Archive of Terry's Texas Rangers
Sharing & preserving the history of the 8th Texas Cavalry Regiment, 1861-1865

NARA Article: The Shady Side of the Family Tree: Civil War Union Court-Martial Case Files

The Civil War in Arkansas Outstanding!

Civil War Haiku  

Civil War Newspapers

Civil War Clip Art Gallery

The American Civil War Homepage

Civil War Women - Online Archival Collections at Duke University

Civil War Memories of Robert C. Carden, Co. B, 16th TN Infantry

Louisiana Civil War Records George Connor's helpful article in the Ancestry.com Library.

Terrell's Texas Cavalry

The 12th Tennessee Cavalry, CSA

Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System  

Civil War Photographs

Search the Brooklyn, NY Civil War Deaths Database.

From Amazon.com
My Passage at the New Orleans Tribune: A Memoir of the Civil War Era

Find out more about the lives of Civil War P. O. W.'s  at the Elmira Prison Camp Online Library.

Texas Confederate Pension Index

Ancestry Databases:

Researching the Military Heroes in Your Family History

The Sultana Disaster, 27 April 1865

Click here for Civil War Books, Gifts, Games & Memorabilia


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