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Manuscript Research

Civil War manuscript collections are excellent primary resources which frequently offer revealing and insightful eye-witness accounts including diaries, home-front letters, memoirs, and contemporary research files. One of the best collections can be found at the Library of Congress.

Library of Congress Manuscript Division
The Manuscript Division's holdings, more than fifty million items in eleven thousand separate collections, include some of the greatest manuscript treasures of American history.

Helpful links to the Library of Congress collections:
Search the Catalog
Online Finding Aids
Online Manuscript Collections
Civil War Guide

The Library of Congress manuscript collection may be consulted by any person engaged in serious research who presents proper identification bearing his or her photograph and current or permanent address, completes the Manuscript Division's registration process, and agrees to adhere to the division's rules for the use of rare materials. To locate manuscript collections not in the custody of the Library of Congress, consult the National Union Catalog of Manuscript collections.

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections
The NUCMC program provides bibliographic access to the nation’s documentary heritage. NUCMC offers descriptions of archival and manuscript collections held by cooperating repositories through the United States and its territories through free access to the RLG and OCLC union catalogs.

Note: To do the most comprehensive search of all archival and manuscript repositories holdings, you will need to search in both RLG and OCLC. Some archival and manuscript repositories catalog their materials in RLG, while others are members of OCLC and catalog materials there.

For more information:
National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections
Search the RLG Union Catalog
Search the OCLC Union Catalog

Manuscript Resource Links
The Civil War is a major collecting focus for many college and university libraries and many have large Civil War era manuscript collections. Large reference libraries and historical societies are another excellent source. This is not a complete list, but provides links to some of the larger Civil War manuscript collections.

Auburn University Civil War Archival Collections
Bowdoin College Special Collections, Civil War Resources
Connecticut Historical Society Civil War Manuscripts Project
Duke University, Manuscript sources - Special Collections Library
Emory University, Robert W. Woodruff Library Civil War Guide
Florida State University Civil War Manuscript Collections
Historical Society of Penn - Civil War Manuscript Collection
Indiana Historical Society, Manuscript Collections
LSU Libraries – Civil War Manuscript Collections
LSU Libraries – Miss.Valley & Lower Miss. Valley Collections
Mississippi State University: Bibliography of Civil War Manuscripts
The Newberry Library Civil War Manuscripts at the Newberry Library
Ohio Historical Society Archives/Library: Primary Source Materials
Tenn. State Library & Archives CW Research Sources: Manuscripts
UNC – Chapel Hill: University Libraries Manuscript Department
Univ. of Arkansas Libraries Manuscript Resources for the Civil War
University of Michigan – Civil War Manuscript Collections
University of Notre Dame Manuscripts of the American Civil War
Virginia Historical Society Virginia’s Civil War Manuscripts
Virginia Military Institute - Civil War Manuscripts , VMI Archives
Virginia Tech University Libraries, Manuscript Collections

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