Civil War Research: Online Sources That You Can Learn From

Online Sources That You Can Learn Civil War

Primary sources are  important when doing research. They give reliable information. When doing civil war research, primary sources can be of great help. There are many sources with talk about the war. Online, you will also find hundreds of websites with many collections on the civil war. These mainly include diaries from soldiers involved in the war, letters, photos, and official records. In this article, we provide some online primary sources where you can learn more about the war.

  • Diaries and letters

If you want to collect information on civil war, there are useful diaries and letters. Some of these are;

  • Manuscripts of the American Civil War

This source includes diaries of soldiers from both sides of the civil war. It is from Notre Dame University. The diaries have been scanned and made available. They talk about the daily experiences of the soldiers.

  • Abraham Lincoln Papers

Here, you can access over 20,000 documents related to the civil war. You will find notes, speeches, and newspapers among other materials. Some of the materials date from when Lincoln was the president. You can get the material by just browsing through them.

  • American Civil War Collection

There are several sites with materials on civil war. In these sites, you will find many letters, diaries, photographs, and newspapers. Such sites include the collection on American Civil War found at the Electronic Text Center. You will find lots of information about the war from the University of Virginia.

Then there is The Civil War Collection at Penn State. You will also find lots of materials about the civil war from this source.

  • Virginia Military Institute Archives

In this site, you will find many materials on the civil war from soldiers. There are diaries, letters, and manuscripts among others.

  • Newspapers

Several newspapers are available from which you can collect information about civil war. You can access these papers online through;

  • Chronicling America

From this site, you can get some materials on civil war. The site provides many newspapers. While not all are from the civil war period, some are. You just need to search for those with civil war stories. According to the site, you can search for newspapers published from 1789 to 1963.

  • Harper’s Weekly

Here you find another useful source. This source gives details on only the civil war period. So, it can be of great help when doing your research on the war. All pages from 1861 to 1865 are scanned. The front pages are arranged in order.

  • Confederacy

There are primary sources where you can gather information about civil war. You can find such articles from the Museum of the Confederacy. You will find a collection of documents and photographs related to the war.

  • Narratives

You can collect information about the civil war from slaves’ narratives. For example, there is a collection of these narratives from the University of North Caroline-Chapel Hill. Most of them are primary sources. You will also find narratives from former slaves collected before the 1920s.

There is also another site ‘Born in Slavery’ with slave narratives. You will find over 2000 narratives and over 500 photographs. All these were collected in the 1930s.

Then, there is another site on ‘Slaves and the Courts’. You will then find a collection of documents on court proceedings relating to slavery. You will also find documents on trials and other related arguments. Indeed, there are over 100 pamphlets in this collection.

  • Dispatches and battles

These are also great sources of information on the civil war. For example, the site ‘Making of America’ contains lots of great information about the war. You will also find lots of information about naval operations during the war. Notably, there are orders, correspondence, and reports from the navies.

There is also ‘Antietam on the web’. The site therefore highlights relevant background information. You will also find letters and diaries from soldiers who survived the war.


The civil war happened between 1861 and 1865. Firstly, the secession from the Union by seven southern states started the war.  Over 750,000 soldiers died from the war. Understanding this requires in depth research. The best sources for such information are primary sources. In this article, we have provided different of them with collections highlight the Civil War. Thanks to technology, we can still have access to such primary sources.

There are many materials from which you can do your research on civil war. The challenge is choosing good sources. Consider our guide as the first step towards finding such sources for your research. But, our guide is not complete. There are many other websites with useful collections for your research on civil war.

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