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American Civil War: Resources in Special Collections

A guide to resources on the American Civil War using materials from the University of Maryland Special Collections in Hornbake Library.

About Personal Narratives and Diaries

Personal narratives from the Civil War are a rich resources for understanding the wide range of experiences and viewpoints of Americans during the war.  These firsthand accounts offer insight into the motivations of individuals fighting for the Union and the Confederacy, as well as the hardships faced by family members on the homefront.  Their narratives provide details about the conditions and emotions that defined life during the Civil War.

Men and women from both the North and South, often kept journals or diaries of their experiences on the battlefield, in prison camps, in military hospitals, and on the home front. Many of these narratives were compiled after the war and published as memoirs.      

Use the suggested subject headings on the right to search the catalog for Civil War personal narratives and accounts.  You may also browse this page for a selection of titles available in the Maryland Room covering the following topics:

Personal narratives and accounts of the Civil War come in a variety of formats, including diaries, memoirs, journals, and non-fictional accounts.  Therefore, it is important to examine them carefully as primary sources.  The following are important analytical questions to consider when looking at these resources:

  • When was the source written and/or published? Is it an account from the time period or a later recollection?
  • Where was the source produced?
  • Who created the source?  Is it a first-hand account?  Was it recorded or written down by another person?
  • What is the source?  Is it a diary, published narrative, oral history interview, or something else?
  • Does the author use actual names and places, or does he/she rely on pseudonyms?  Has the story been embellished or is it a straightforward account of events?

For more information about how to use sources for your research, visit the interpreting primary and secondary sources guide from the University of Maryland Libraries.

Image: (Top, Left) New York State Militia. Pictorial History of the Civil War in the United States of America, Pg. 485

Image: (Middle, Right) Costume of a Rebellious Woman.  Pictorial History of the Civil War in the United States of America, Pg. 400.

Image: (Bottom, Left) Georgia Heavy Infantry.  Pictorial History of the Civil War in the United States of America, Pg. 595.

Suggested Subject Headings

Use these subject terms when searching the University of Maryland Library online catalog. Select "Subject beginning with..." on the drop-down menu. Then enter one of the terms below.

  • Baltimore (Md.) History Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives

  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives

  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, Confederate

  • United States -- History 19th century -- Personal narratives, Confederate

Confederate Army

Below is a selection of Confederate narratives that are available in the Maryland Room.  Additional titles can be searched using the online catalog.

Union Army

Below is a selection of Union Army narratives that are available in the Maryland Room.  Additional titles can be searched using the online catalog.

Women

Below is a selection of narratives from women that are available in the Maryland Room.  Additional titles can be searched using the online catalog.

Additional Narratives

Below is a selection of additional narratives that are available in the Maryland Room.  Additional titles can be searched using the online catalog.