The American Civil War: A Centennial Exhibition

The American Civil War: A Centennial Exhibition

The American Civil War: A Centennial Exhibition

The American Civil War: A Centennial Exhibition

Excerpt

In the years 1961-65 the people of the United States will observe the centennial of the Civil War. This exhibit is presented as a part of the national commemoration.

The materials displayed have been taken exclusively from the collections of the Library of Congress. The arrangement is intended to illustrate, insofar as space and materials will permit, the tragic struggle of 1861-65 in as broad a scope as possible. This involves consideration of some of the political, economic, and social aspects of American life as they affected, and were affected by, the war. Military scenes and events predominate, but no attempt has been made to present a chronology of the war. Nor has it been possible to treat any of the complex issues in extended detail.

No single event in American history has received the attention which has been devoted to the Civil War, its causes and consequences. For this study, the resources of the Library of Congress are particularly rich and valuable. The Manuscript Division contains papers of many of the political and military leaders of the period, both Confederate and Union. Some, but by no means all, of these collections -- the most notable being the Robert Todd Lincoln -- are represented in this exhibit. The Map Division, in addition to other material relating to the war, contains the maps, diaries, correspondence, and private papers of Jedediah Hotchkiss, one of the most noted of Confederate cartographers. The Music Division has an assemblage of Civil War sheet music numbering in the thousands. The Rare Book Division houses numerous rare Confederate imprints; the distinguished collection of Lincolniana brought together by Alfred Whital Stern; and a large quantity of broadsides, including Union and Confederate recruiting posters, newspaper extras, and printed general orders. Finally there are the varied and comprehensive collections of the Prints and Photographs Division, from which are drawn the majority of the exhibit's pictorial materials. Included are photographic negatives made by Mathew B. Brady and the staff of field photographers organized by him to prepare a camera record of the war, original drawings by leading newspaper combat artists such as Edwin Forbes and Alfred R. Waud, and lithographic views of the war. Many of the drawings were shown early in 1961 at the National Gallery of Art as part of its display "The Civil War; a Centennial Exhibition of Eyewitness Drawings" and were subsequently circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The lithographic views -- a still largely neglected field as far as students of the period are concerned -- range from inaccurate portrayals of battle action by Currier and Ives to the carefully reproduced "onthe-spot" sketches of soldier-artists, foremost of whom, as far as the Library's holdings are concerned, was Pvt. Alfred E. Mathews (31st Ohio), over 35 of whose published drawings, among the finest of all Civil War lithographs, are in the collections.

This publication, which serves as a companion to the Library's Abraham Lincoln: an Exhibition at the Library of Congress in Honor of the 150th Anniversary of his Birth (1959), was prepared by Lloyd A. Dunlap, Consultant in Civil War Studies, and by Arthur G. Burton, Exhibits Specialist, under the general direction of Herbert J. Sanborn, Exhibits Officer of the Library of Congress.

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