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Rare Civil War books, photos, artifacts and political cartoons

by Alice Bampton

This year marks the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the American Civil War. It began April 12, 1861, when Confederate troops led by Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard fired on a Union garrison stationed at Fort Sumter, Charleston, S.C. Thus began America’s deadliest war, one which still resonates today.

In addition to numerous books about the Civil War, which one would expect to find in a library, Falvey Memorial Library’s collection includes some unexpected treasures related to that war. One of the most surprising, housed in Special Collections, is a frock coat which belonged to General William Tecumseh Sherman. Although Special Collections is temporarily closed due to renovation, photographs and a story written by Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator, fully describe this important part of the Sherman Thackara Collection.

Special Collections also features the Humbert Collection and the Nagy Collection, both of which relate to the American Civil War.

To examine actual artifacts, take a look at the exhibit, “Remembering the U.S. Civil War” on the library first floor, near the elevator. Laura Bang, Digital and Special Collections curatorial assistant, curated the exhibit.

For a decidedly different and British view of our Civil War, go to the Tenniel Civil War Cartoon Collection housed in ARTstor, a database of images to which Falvey subscribes. John Tenneil (1820-1914), probably better known for his illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, also worked as an illustrator for the English periodical, Punch.

Tenniel created over 50 political cartoons about the Civil War. These cartoons provide a wealth of information: caricatures of  Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, British views of the war and slavery, and even illustrations of fashions of the time. To access ARTstor the first time, you must be on campus. If you have a problem accessing ARTstor, please seek assistance from one of Falvey’s librarians.

Also contributing: Gerald Dierkes and Judy Olsen



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Last Modified: September 27, 2011

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