Civil War and Reconstruction
More has been written about the Civil War than any other military conflict in which the United States has been involved, and the Newberry has a very large selection of these writings. From its inception, the Newberry has collected these publications from both North and South, and consequently has one of the best collections of books and manuscripts about the Civil War in the Midwest.
Materials include not only publications on particular battles, campaigns, and generals, but also numerous military unit histories and personal narratives as well as original diaries, correspondence, and other papers of those involved in the conflict. Other sources available at the Newberry relating to the Civil War include:
- Historical and genealogical society papers
- Nineteenth-century periodicals
- County, town, and state histories
- Music materials (sheet music, songsters, and hymnody)
- Maps and atlases
For the Reconstruction Era, the Newberry has diverse research materials ranging from political pamphlets to Freedmen's Bureau Records on microfilm. For related sources, see the African American Studies research guide.
You can search by Subject in our Primo VE catalog using the “Advanced Search” function to the right of the search bar. Select “Subject” in the drop-down menu of search features in place of “Any field.” A few useful subject terms for getting started include:
- United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865
- United States - Politics and Government - 1861-1865
- United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865 - Regimental Histories
- United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865 - Personal Narratives
- Also consider using the Charles Dornbusch Military Bibliography of the Civil War to find particular histories or personal narratives of interest, and then search for the author or title in the online catalog.
- United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865 - Campaigns
- United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865 - Maps
- Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)
- Freedmen - [Name of state, or United States]
Results can be filtered by Material Type, Language, Date, Author, Title, etc. prior to searching by using the drop-down menus in the search panel. If your search produces too many options, you can also narrow results using the faceted options on the left-hand side, under the heading “Refine your results.” Clicking on one of these filter terms or the box to their left will limit results to only those that fit this criterion, while clicking on the red box to the right of the term will exclude those results. For more information about searching in our online catalog, please see our Guide to Primo VE.
Groene, Bertram Hawthorne. Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor. Winston Salem, N.C.: Blair, c1973. Call No. Local History Ref CD3047.G76 1973 (2nd floor open shelf).
Neagles, James C. Confederate Research Sources: A Guide to Archive Collections. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1986. Call No. Local History Ref CD3047.N42 (2nd floor open shelf)
U.S. Military Records: A Guide to Federal and State Sources, Colonial America to the Present. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1994. Call No. Local History Ref Z1249.M5N43 (2nd floor open shelf).
Schweitzer, George. Civil War Genealogy: A Basic Research Guide for Tracing Your Civil War Ancestors. Knoxville: Schweitzer, c1980. Call No. Local History Ref Z1242.S35 (2nd floor open shelf).
General Research Sources
Amann, William. Personnel of the Civil War. New York: Yoseloff, 1961. Call No. Local History Ref E494.A5 1961 (2nd floor open shelf) Matches official unit designations with local designations or “nicknames.”
Confederate Veteran. Call No. Local History Ref E482.C74 (2nd floor open shelf). Veterans’ magazine published 1893-1932, containing much memoir and biography. Very thorough three volume index shelved with this set.
Dornbusch, Charles E. Military Bibliography of the Civil War. New York: N.Y. Public Library, 1961-1972. Supplement (Volume IV) Dayton, Ohio: Morningside, 1987. Call No. Local History Ref Z1242.D6 (2nd floor open shelf).
Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. [Reprint] Des Moines, Iowa: Dyer, c1908. Call No. Local History Ref E491.D99 1978 (2nd floor open shelf). Among other functions, this work provides histories of all Federal units.
Hewett, Janet B. (editor). The Roster of Confederate Soldiers 1861-1865. Wilmington, N.C.: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1995-. Call No. Local History Ref E548.R67 (2nd floor open shelf). Ongoing series.
Mills, Gary B. Southern Loyalists in the Civil War: The Southern Claims Commission. A Composite Directory of Case Files Created by the U.S. Commissioner of Claims, 1871-1880 … . Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994. Call No. Local History Ref E480.5.M55 (2nd floor open shelf).
Sifakis, Stewart. Compendium of the Confederate Armies. New York: Facts on File, 1992-. Call No. Local History Ref E546.S58 (2nd floor open shelf). Provides brief unit histories, hence a companion of sorts to Dyer (above).
United States. Adjutant General. Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force of the United States Army for the Years 1861,’62,’63,’64,’65. Washington: Adjutant General, 1861-1865. Call No. Govt. W3.12. Lists officers only. Indexing in each volume
United States. Quartermaster’s Department. Roll of Honor: Names of Soldiers Who Died in Defense of the American Union, Interred in the National Cemeteries. (Reprint) Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994. Call No. Local History Ref E181.R65 (2nd floor open shelf). Originally published 1869-1871. 27 volumes in 10 plus index volume.
United States. War Dept. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies in the War of the Rebellion. Washington: G.P.O., 1880-1900. 128 volumes. Call No. Local History Ref E464.U6 1880 (2nd floor open shelf). Index volume. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. Washington: G.P.O., 1897-1927. Call No. Govt. N16.6. 31 volumes. Index volume.
Alabama 1907 Census of Confederate Soldiers. Cullman, Alabama: Gregath, 1982-1983. Call No. F325.C85. Consult online catalog record for county availability.
Brewer, Willis. Alabama, Her History, Resources, War Record, and Public Men from 1540 to 1872. Montgomery, Alabama: Barret & Brown [printer], 1872. Call No. F873.11. Histories of Alabama Civil War regiments and batteries with officer listings pp. 589-705.
Allen, Desmond Walls (compiler). Arkansas’ Damned Yankees: An Index to Union Soldiers in Arkansas Regiments. [Conway, Arkansas: D.W. Allen?], c1987. Call No. F410.A44.
Arkansas Union Soldiers Pension Application Index. Conway, Arkansas: Rapid Rabbit [printer], c1987. Call No. F410.A46.
Index to Arkansas Confederate Soldiers. Conway, Arkansas: Arkansas Research, c1990. 3 volumes. Call No. Local History Ref E553.3 A44 1990.
Arkansas. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General of Arkansas. Washington, D.C.: G.P.O., 1867. Call No. U1881.04. Also: Microfiche 3405. Federal regiment roster listings only. USCT regiments not included.
Ingmire. Frances T. Arkansas Confederate Veterans and Widows Pension Applications. St. Louis: Ingmire, 1985. Call No. Local History Ref F410.I53 1985 (2nd floor open shelf).
McLane, Bobbie J. and Glazner, Capitola. Arkansas 1911 Census of Confederate Veterans. Call No. Local History Ref F410.M23 (2nd floor open shelf).
Wright, Marcus Joseph. Arkansas in the War 1861- 1865. Batesville, Arkansas: Independence County Historical Society, 1963. Call No. F861.04. Does not include rosters, although names of some casualties in Federal units included, together with names of officers. Listings for officers in Confederate infantry and navy.
California. Adjutant General. Records of California Men in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1867, Revised and Compiled by Brig.-Gen. Richard H. Orton. Sacramento: State Office, 1890. Call No. F8349.02. Also: Microfiche 3399.
Parker, J. Carlyle. A Personal Name Index to Orton’s “Records of California Men in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1867. Detroit: Gale, 1978. Call No. E497.3.C162 P37.
Colorado Territory Civil War Volunteer Records. A Comprehensive Index to the Twelve Volumes of Military Clothing Books Found in the Colorado State Archives. Littleton, Colorado: Columbine Genealogical and Historical Society, 1994. Call No. folio E498.3 C65 1994.
Connecticut. Adjutant General. Catalog of Connecticut Volunteer Organizations. Hartford, Connecticut: Adjutant General, 1869. Call No. F8349.O46. Also: Microfiche 3403.
Hartman, David W. and David Coles. Biographical Rosters of Florida’s Confederate and Union Soldiers 1861-1865. Wilmington, N.C.: Broadfoot, 1995. Call No. Local History Ref E502.3.H3 (2nd floor open shelf).
Robertson, Frederick L. Soldiers of Florida in the Seminole Indian, Civil and Spanish American Wars. [Live Oak: Democrat Book and Job Print, 1909?] Call No. Ayer E558.3 F63 1983 (Special Collections).
White, Virgil. Register of Florida CSA Pension Applications. Waynesboro, Tennessee: National Historical Publishing Co., 1989. Call No. Local History Ref E548 W47 1989 (2nd floor open shelf).
Georgia. State Division of Confederate Pensions and Records. Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia 1861-1865. Hapeville, Ga.: Longina & Porter, 1959-1964. Call No. Local History Ref E559.A5 1959 (2nd floor open shelf). Index by Juanita S. Brightwell, same call number.
Cook County GAR Post Listings. Call No. Microfilm 429.
Illinois. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois. Springfield, Illinois: Rokker, 1886. Call No. Local History Ref E505.2.I129a (2nd floor open shelf). Also: Microfiche 3402.
Illinois Military Units in the Civil War. Springfield, Illinois: Civil War Centennial Commission of Illinois, 1962. Call No. Local History Ref folio UA173.A31962 (2nd floor open shelf).
Illinois. Veterans’ Commission. Honor Roll. 1956. Call No. E181.I34 1956. Multivolume set of Illinois veteran grave registrations organized by county (though some counties missing) and then alphabetically by cemetery. Veteran’s military unit provided if known.
Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Illinois. Call No. Microfilm 547. (Specify surname on call slip when requesting this item.)
Tubbs, William B. “A Bibliography of Illinois Civil War Regimental Sources in the Illinois State Historical Library. Part I, Published and Printed Sources.” Illinois Historical Journal 87:3 (Autumn 1994). Call No. F896.444.
“A Bibliography of Illinois Civil War Regimental Sources in the Illinois State Historical Library. Part II, Manuscripts.” Illinois Historical Journal 87:4 (Winter 1994). Call No. F896.444.
Indiana. Adjutant General. Report. Indianapolis: Adjutant General, 1865-1869. Call No. Local History Ref E506.2.I393 1865 (2nd floor open shelf). Also: Microfiche 3409.
Trapp, Glenda K. Index to the Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana. Evansville, Indiana: Trapp, 1986-. Call No. Local History Ref E506.2.I393 1865 Index (2nd floor open shelf). Indexes to Volumes I and IV of the Report only at this writing.
Alexander, William L. (Iowa Adjutant General). List of Ex-Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, Living in Iowa. Des Moines, Iowa: Geo. E. Roberts (state printer), 1886. Call No. Local History Ref E494.I64 1886 (2nd floor open shelf).
Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Iowa, Call No. Microfilm 1031. Indicate surname(s) on request form.
Iowa. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General and Acting Quartermaster General of the State of Iowa, January 11, 1864, to January 1, 1865. Des Moines: F.W. Palmer, state printer, 1865. Call No. Dawes U1912.44
Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion. Des Moines: E.H. English state printer, 1908- 1911. Call No. Local History Ref E507.3.R67 1908 (2nd floor open shelf).
Records of Camp Dodge at Des Moines, Iowa. Call No. Microfilm 1140. A lengthy index of enlistments giving regiment and company, although not apparently to the Roster and Record (above). It can act as an index, though, based on unit designation.
Kansas. Adjutant General. Report. [Reprint] Topeka, Kansas: Hudson, 1896. Call No. Local History Ref E508.2.Ki6 1896 (2nd floor open shelf).
Kentucky. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky. Frankfort, Kentucky: Harney [printer], 1867. Call No. Local History Ref E509.2.K37 1866 (2nd floor open shelf). Also: Microfiche 3411. Federal regiment and battery rosters only.
Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky. Confederate Kentucky Volunteers War 1861-65. [Reprint] Utica, Kentucky: Cook & McDowell, 1980. Added index. Call No. Local History Ref E564.3.K45 1980 (2nd floor open shelf).
Simpson, Alicia. Kentucky Confederate Veteran and Widows Pension Index. Hartford, Ky.: Cook & McDowell, 1979. Call No. folio UB374.K4S56.
Bergeron, Arthur W. (Jr.). Guide to Louisiana Confederate Military Units 1861-1865. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Call No. Local History Ref E565.4.B32 1989 (2nd floor open shelf).
Booth, Andrew B. Records of Louisiana Confederate Soldiers and Louisiana Confederate Commands. [Reprint] Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co., 1984. Call No. Local History Ref E565.3.B66 1984 (2nd floor open shelf).
Dilts, Bryan Lee. 1890 Louisiana Census Index of Civil War Veterans or Their Widows. Salt Lake City, Utah: Index Publishing, 1984. Call No. Microfiche 551.
Maine. Adjutant General. Annual Report. Augusta, Maine: Stevens & Sayward [printers], 1862-67. Call No. U1841.54. Also: Microfiche 3413. Volume containing rosters supplemented by roster index volume.
Whitman, William Edward. Maine in the War for the Union. Lewiston: Nelson Dingley, Jr., 1865. Call No. F8349.34. Regimental histories.
Hartzler, Daniel D. Marylanders in the Confederacy. Silver Spring, Maryland: Family Line, 1986. Call No. Local History Ref E566.3.H37 1986 (2nd floor open shelf). Alphabetical listing.
Wilmer, L. Allison. History and Roster of Maryland [Federal] Volunteers, War of 1861-5. [Reprint] Silver Spring, Maryland: Family Line, 1987. Call No. Local History Ref E 512.3.W55 1987 (2nd floor open shelf). Indexed.
Massachusetts. Adjutant General. Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War. Brookline, Mass.: Adjutant General, 1931-1935. Call No. Local History Ref E513.M37 1931 (2nd floor open shelf). Also: Microfiche 3412. Index volume included.
Alphabetical General Index to Public Library Sets of 85,271 Names of Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Individual Records. [Reprint] Lansing, Michigan: Michigan Secretary of State, 1915. Call No. Local History Ref E514.3.A46 (2nd floor open shelf).
Michigan. Adjutant General. Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War. Call No. Local History Ref E514.3.M62 1900 (2nd floor open shelf). Also: Microfiche 3414. 46 volumes, generally one volume of rosters per regiment. Indexed by title immediately above.
United States Civil War Soldiers Living in Michigan in 1894. St. Johns, Michigan: Genealogists of Clinton County Historical Society, 1988. Call No. Local History Ref E494.U6 1988 (2nd floor open shelf).
Minnesota. Adjutant General. Annual Report of the Adjutant General, of the State of Minnesota, for the Year Ending December 1, 1866, and of the Military Forces of the State from 1861 to 1865. Saint Paul: Pioneer Printing, 1866. Call No. F8349.4928.
Minnesota. Civil and Indian Wars Commissioners. Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, 1861-1865. St. Paul: Pioneer Press [printer], 1890-93. Call No. F911.578.
Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesotans in the Civil and Indian Wars: An Index to the Rosters in “Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, 1861- 1865” Compiled as a W.P.A. Project for the Minnesota Historical Society. Call No. Microfilm 477.
Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi, Pt. 5 (Military History of Mississippi 1803- 1898). [Reprint] Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co., 1978. Call No. F341.M58 1978. Unit histories and officer listings.
Rietti, John C. Military Annals of Mississippi. [Reprint] Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co., 1976. Call No. E568.R53 1976. Added index. Incomplete listings of officers and enlisted men.
Wiltshire, Betty Crouch. Mississippi Confederate Grave Registrations. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1991. 2 volumes. Call No. E516.3 W56 1991.
Mississippi Confederate Pension Applications. Carrollton, Miss.: Pioneer Publishing Co., 1994. 3 volumes. Call No. F340.W5417 1994.
Missouri. Adjutant General. Report (1863, 1864, 1865 in three volumes). Jefferson City: 1864-1866. Call No. Dawes U1884.58.
Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Missouri. Call No. Microfilm 1032. Indicate surname(s) on call slip.
Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the Territory of Nebraska. Call No. Microfilm 1182.
Nebraska. Adjutant General. Roster of Nebraska Volunteers 1861 to 1869. Hastings, Neb.: Wigton & Evans (printer), 1888. Call No. F8349.49595. Also: Microfiche 3418.
Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of Nevada for 1865. Carson City, Nevada: Adjutant General’s Office, 1866. Call No. Microfiche 3420.
New Hampshire. Adjutant General. Revised register of New Hampshire Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Rebellion. Concord, N.H.: Adjutant General, 1895. Call No. Local History Ref E520.3.N55 1895 (2nd floor open shelf). Also: Microfiche 3419.
New Jersey. Adjutant General. Records of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War, 1861-1865. Trenton, N.J.: John L. Murphy [printer]. 1876-1878. Call No. F8349.4979.
New York. Adjutant General. A Record of the Commissioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates of the Regiments Which Were Organized in the State of New York…. Albany: 1864-1868. Call No. folio F8349.5
Registers of the [New York Regiments] in the War of the Rebellion. Albany, N.Y.: J.B. Lyon, 1894-1906. 40 volumes. Call No. Microfiche 2247. Annotated rosters for New York regiments and batteries. Consult computer catalog for volume contents.
Phisterer, Frederick. New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1865. 3rd edition. Albany: J.B. Lyon [printer], 1912. Call No. F851.691. Includes index volume.
Clark, Walter (editor). Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-‘65. [Reprint] Wendell, N.C.: Broadfoot, 1982. Call No. E573.4.C59 1982. Regimental histories and officer listings only.
Manarin, Louis H. and Jordan, Weymouth T. (Jr.). North Carolina Troops 1861-1865: A Roster. Raleigh: State Dept. of Archives and History, 1966-. Call No. Local History Ref E573.3.M3 (2nd floor open shelf). Series still in progress. Indexing in each volume.
Moore, John W. Roster of North Carolina Troops in the War Between the States. Raleigh: John W. Moore, state printer, 1882. Call No. F8619.6.
Ohio Roster Commission. Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion. Call No. Local History Ref E525.3.O38 188 (2nd floor open shelf). Newberry set lacking two final volumes (11 & 12). Complete set available on microform (Call No. Microfiche 3415). Microfilm index produced by Ohio Historical Society is also available (Call No. Microfilm 1167).
Petty, Gerald M. Index of the Ohio Squirrel Hunters Roster. Columbus, Ohio: Petty, 1984. Call No. Local History Ref E525.3 (2nd floor open shelf). The “squirrel hunters” were an emergency militia levy in September 1862.
Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers. [Reprint] Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilm International, 1982. Call No. Local History Ref E527.B32 (2nd floor open shelf). Primarily rosters. Accompanied by 4 volume index (Wilmington, N.C.: Broadfoot, 1994).
Rhode Island. Adjutant General. Report. Providence: Adjutant General, 1866. Call No. Local History Ref E528.2.R47 1865 (2nd floor open shelf).
Military Records. Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co., 1981? Call No. Microfiche 567. Microfiche of an assortment of Confederate records (mainly manuscript), including some rosters and other name lists. A difficult source to utilize.
Salley, A.S. (Jr.) South Carolina Troops in Confederate Service. Columbia, S.C.: R.L. Bryan, 1913. Call No. F 8619.66. Only 1st through 4th S.C. Infantry regiments. Newberry copy (two volumes in four) is apparently incomplete, as a third volume was apparently published as well.
Dyer, Gustavus W. and Moore, John Trotwood. The Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1985. Call No. Local History Ref E579.T46 1985 (2nd floor open shelf).
Sistler, Samuel. Index to Tennessee Confederate Pension Applications. Nashville, Tennessee: Byron SIstler & Associates, c1995. Call No. Local History Ref F435.S62 (2nd floor open shelf).
Tennessee. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Tennessee, of the Military Forces of the State, from 1861 to 1866. Nashville: S.C. Mercer [printer], 1866. Call No. U1882.86. Also Microfiche 3433. Only Federal troops covered. Roster listings carry more detail than Tennesseans in the Civil War (below).
Tennesseans in the Civil War. Nashville: Civil War Commission, 1965. Call No. Local History Ref E579.4.T45 1964 (2nd floor open shelf). Covers both Confederate and Federal regiments and troops. Alphabetical listings.
Wiefering, Edna. Tennessee Confederate Widows and their Families: Abstracts of 11,190 Confederate Widows’ Applications. Cleveland, Tennessee: Cleveland Public Library, 1992. Call No. Local History Ref F435W35 1992 (2nd floor open shelf).
Texas. Comptroller’s Office. Confederate Pension Applications, Approved. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975. Call No. Microfilm 758.
White, Virgil D. Index to Texas CSA Pension Files. Waynesboro, Tennessee: National Historical Publishing Co., 1989. Call No. Local History Ref E548.W48 1989 (2nd floor open shelf).
Vermont. Adjutant General. Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteer and Lists of Vermonters Who Served in the Army and Navy of the United States During the War of the Rebellion 1861-66. Montpelier, Vt.: Press of the Watchman Publishing Co., 1892. Call No.F843.936. Index.
Virginia Regimental History Series. Ongoing series with one volume per regiment or battery. Each volume has its own call number; however, all located on 2nd floor open shelf following Wallace (below). Annotated rosters in every volume.
Wallace, Lee A. A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations 1861-1865. Revised 2nd edition. Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard [printer], 1986. Call No. Local History Ref E581.W35 (2nd floor open shelf).
Lang, Theodore F. Loyal West Virginia from 1861 to 1865. Baltimore: Deutsch, 1895. Call No. F864.48. Also: Microfiche 3435. Regimental histories and officer listings only.
West Virginia. Adjutant General. Annual Reports for 1864 and 1865. Call No. U1864.96. The researcher should consult both volumes.
Wisconsin. Adjutant General. Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion 1861-1865. Madison: Democrat Print Co., 1886. Call No. Local History Ref E537.3.W57 1986 (2nd floor open shelf). Newberry’s set was previously in private hands and has extensive annotations, some referring to compiled genealogies for families of individual soldiers. Short newspaper clippings also attached.
Busey, John W. These Honored Dead: The Union Casualties at Gettysburg. Highstown, N.J.: 1988. Call No. E475.53.B98 1988.
Confederate P.O.W.’s: Soldiers & Sailors Who Died in Federal Prisons & Military Hospitals in the North. Call No. Local History Ref E548.I55 1984 (2nd floor open shelf).
Index to Compiled Service Records for United States Colored Troops. Call No. Microfilm 713. (Specify soldier’s surname on call slip.)
Krick, Robert K. The Gettysburg Death Roster: The Confederate Dead at Gettysburg. Dayton, Ohio: Morningside, 1981. Call No. foE494.K74.
Nine, William G. and Wilson, Roger G. The Appomattox Paroles April 9-15, 1865. Call No. Local History Ref E548.N56 1989 (2nd floor open shelf).
A browsable list of manuscript collections related to the Civil War and its immediate aftermath is available. Other individual manuscripts and small collections are also available by searching the online catalog. A few collections of note include:
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous items from the collection of this American brevet Brigadier General, Aide-de-Camp to Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War, and Private Secretary to Grant during his presidency (1869-1877).
Letters mainly to family, diaries, scrapbooks, writings by Dawes and others, and personal and military items, much of which relates to Dawes’s service in the Civil War as an officer in the 53rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Other material concerns Dawes’s college years and his later life as an historical scholar and writer, and businessman in the railroad and coal companies of the Midwest.
Forty-four pocket diaries, 1857-1906 (lacking 1859-1861, 1868, 1877, 1884) documenting Hiram Scofield's Civil War service and his personal and professional life as a Washington, Iowa, attorney. Scofield, who was white, commanded the 8th Louisiana Regiment of Colored Troops (in 1864 renamed the 47th U.S. Colored Infantry) and his diaries include observations about the training and activities of his African American regiment.
A series of nine communications exchanged between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee during April 7-9, 1865 negotiating Lee's surrender; transcribed in the hand of Ely Samuel Parker, Grant's military secretary, and accompanied by his notes.
Fold3: Genealogy database that contains records drawn from the National Archives and other sources. Includes a selection of military records, court records, city directories, and letters, including a large collection of Civil War-related records. A subscription database; access is available to registered readers only within the library building.
HeritageQuestOnline: This collection of digitized genealogical materials includes Freedman's Bank Records. A subscription database; access is available to registered readers only within the library building.
Digital Collections for the Classroom: Thematic collections of primary source documents selected from the Newberry’s extensive holdings. They are designed for easy incorporation into classroom teaching and support many of the skills emphasized by the Common Core State Standards. Includes these collections:
- Civil War Letters
- Abraham Lincoln's Legacy in Music
- John C. Calhoun and American Disunion
- The Anti-Slavery Movement in Chicago and Illinois
- Literature of the American Civil War
- Home Front: The Visual Culture of the Civil War North
- Lincoln, the North, and the Quest for Emancipation
- The Copperheads and Dissent During the Civil War
- Slavery, Civil War, and the "New Birth of Freedom"
Newberry Transcribe: Transcribed letters, journals, and other documents from the Newberry's Modern Manuscript collections. Includes a Civil War category.
Using the Freedmen’s Bureau and Freedman’s Bank Records
Immediately after the Civil War, two separate institutions were established to help emancipated slaves and other war refugees: the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Freedman’s Bank. The records for these two institutions are a treasure trove for genealogists researching African Americans. The Freedmen’s Bureau records are complex and confusing, but are a rich source for family historians. The Freedman’s Bank records are less extensive than the Bureau’s records, but digitization and indexing has made them easier to use. This guide is intended as a quick introduction to these two important sources. For a more extensive explanation of the Bank and Bureau records, see Tony Burroughs’ chapter in Byers, African American Genealogical Sourcebook pp. 57-90 (Newberry Call # E185.96 .A444 1995 (open shelf)).
The Freedmen’s Bureau Records
The U.S. Congress created the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1865 (officially the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands) to assist in the transition between slavery and freedom. The Bureau was created as a part of the War Department. In carrying out its mission, the Bureau took on many tasks, including the negotiation of labor contracts, the licensing of marriages, the establishment of law and order, and the education of children. Congress ordered the Bureau to stop most of its activities on January 1, 1869, and it closed the Bureau completely in 1872. The Bureau’s wide-ranging activities during this short period generated a large volume of records of historical and genealogical value. The records are particularly important to genealogists researching former slaves because the records of the Bureau are often the earliest records that document the surnames of freedmen.
Records Created by the Bureau
Like any large organization, the Freedmen’s Bureau created many paper records: correspondence, reports of events, contracts and other documents. The original copies of these papers are now kept at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The National Archives avoids re-arranging the papers of a government institution by subject. Instead, it leaves papers arranged the way that the organization itself kept them. Following this principle, the Freedmen’s Bureau records are arranged according to the Bureau’s organizational structure. The Bureau was headquartered at the Commissioner’s Office in Washington. In each of the 11 states where the Bureau operated, an Assistant Commissioner’s Office reported to Washington. Below the Assistant Commissioner’s office in the hierarchy, a variety of field offices and sub-assistant Commissioner’s offices reported; this lower-level organization varied from state to state.
The original paper copies of these records are held by the National Archives in Washington, D.C. In 1973, a preliminary survey of the papers was published by the Archives (Call # E185.2 .U56 1973 (open shelf).). The preliminary inventory serves as an overview of the original paper records. It was written before the records were microfilmed, so it does not give information about the location of the documents on microfilm.
Some (but not all) of the Bureau’s records have been microfilmed by the National Archives. See Appendix C of the Newberry's Bibliography of African American Family History at the Newberry Library for a chart showing which record groups have been filmed, whether they are held by the Newberry or the National Archives – Great Lakes Branch, and where to find descriptions of the films.
Guide to the Microfilm
In 1984, the National Archives published Black Studies (Call # Z1361.N39 U63 1984 (open shelf)), a guide to microfilmed sources for African American history and genealogy. Black Studies includes reel listings for the Freedmen’s Bureau microfilms, but only for the microfilm sets that were completed by 1984. Since that time, additional microfilm sets have been published. The chart at the end of this section shows which microfilm sets are described in Black Studies. For more recently published microfilm sets, researchers can use the Preliminary Inventory (Call # E185.2 .U56 1973 (open shelf)) to navigate the records, although it does not list reel numbers.
Many sections of the Freedmen’s Bureau records have been name indexed by genealogists. There are a variety of indexes in print and on-line. The state sections of this bibliography list printed indexes held by the Newberry. Researchers should also search in the Newberry’s on-line catalog for the subject heading of Freedmen (locality) for newly acquired print indexes.
The Freedmen’s Bureau Online is the best website for locating on-line indexes to the Freedmen’s Bureau. This collaborative site allows researchers to post indexes and transcriptions of Bureau records. For example, the site contains a large set of marriage records transcribed from the Records of the Assistant Commissioner for Mississippi. The front page of the site has a search function that allows researchers to search numerous indexes at once. Researchers should also explore the State sections for indexes.
Other Search Strategies
While name indexes are helpful, only a portion of the Freedmen’s Bureau records is currently indexed. To delve deeper into the records, researchers should consider which section of the Bureau might have dealt with their ancestors. Start at the state level: read the description of the record sets for the state your ancestor came from and see if any promising records are available as part of the Assistant Commissioner’s records. After checking the state level, try to locate the local field office records for the area you are studying and see what you find.
For example, suppose you were searching for an ancestor from Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. First, you might read the description of the Louisiana Assistant Commissioner records in the Louisiana section of this guide. It notes that reel 32 of the Assistant Commissioner’s records contains “reports of indigents” organized by parish. By requesting that reel, the researcher could search for individuals listed in Avoyelles.
Next, you might search for Field Office records for Avoyelles. To determine which field office to check, the researcher should consider what large towns are near Avoyelles Parish. By looking at a map of Louisiana, you can identify Alexandria, Pineville, and Ville Platte as large towns near Avoyelles Parish. The description of the Louisiana Field Offices in the Preliminary Inventory (Vol. 1., P. 186-243) shows that there was a Field Office in Alexandria. The description of the Alexandria Field Office records includes a register of labor contracts from Avoyelles Parish. Other records from the Alexandria office, such as indigent reports and letters, might include more information about Avoyelles Parish during Reconstruction. In this case, the Newberry does not hold the Louisiana Field Office records, but researchers will find them at the National Archives in Chicago.
This strategy might seem like a lot of work to locate information about one ancestor. But many of the freedmen are not otherwise documented, so it might be worth the effort. Also, even if you do not find a record of your ancestor, by studying original documents from the time and place your ancestors lived you learn something about how your ancestors lived.