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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.

What Are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are materials that were created during the time period being studied.  They contain first-hand accounts and information that offer direct links to events and social conditions of the past. 

Primary sources are often created by someone who experienced or witnessed the event in question, and therefore provide a unique insider view of events.  Historic newspapers, diaries, autobiographies, photographs, speeches, and letters are just a few examples of primary source material.  Researchers rely on primary sources to constuct arguments and discuss past events.  

Secondary resources, on the other hand, are written significantly after events by parties not directly involved.  When deciding whether an source is primary or secondary, it is important to ask the following questions: Where does the information come from? When was it created?  Who created the material? and How is it connected to the past? 

For more information on Primary and Secondary Sources, consult the Research Using Primary Sources guide from the University of Maryland Libraries.   

The pages listed under the Primary Sources section of this guide link to several locations with primary source material that are available in the Maryland Room related to the American Civil War.  These include:Census and Registers


Additional primary source material can be found using the Archives and Manuscripts section of this guide.

Digital Collections

Select archival and special collection materials have been digitized and made available online through the Digital Collection @ the University of Maryland, a searchable digital repository of scanned materials from the University of Maryland's libraries. 

Use the keyword search box on the homepage to search collection by keywords.  For example, typing "Civil War" in the search box will retrieve materials realted to the Civil War. 

You may also search using the provided subject browse terms, which includes a "War, Military" option.