Civil War and Reconstruction

What direction will your Civil War research take? Are you interested in historic battles, like Gettysburg? Do you want to focus on slavery or the Abolitionist movement? If you are a student of the "great man" approach, you might want to read up on Abraham Lincoln or Robert E. Lee. Try to narrow your research to a particular area. You might start by finding an entry in a good print encyclopedia or by reading a short, general book on the Civil War. This will give you an overview of the subject and help you to refine your search. Check out the starting your research project page before you begin! Some possible subject areas for the Civil War include

                                                                                Abraham Lincoln, his life or his presidency
                                                                                Slave resistance
                                                                                The role of women in the Abolitionist movement
                                                                                                                      Pivotal battles in the Civil War: Gettysburg or Antietam, for example
                                                                                                                      Medical care on the Civil War battlefield

We can't fit every resource about the Civil War on to this list! A pathfinder is just the beginning of building your bibliography.

Reference materials

This is the place to start any research project. Reference books offer short, authoritative information on every topic. These books must be used in the library. Most contain bibliographies of important books on your topic. A good first stop would be any of the standard print encyclopedias in the Beaver collection: Encyclopedia Americana, World Book or Britannica.


Annals of American History Online Primary sources.
Britannica Online Great for pre-search and primary sources, including speeches, essays, biographies, court decisions, editorials and photos.
Gale Virtual Reference Library

General Reference Center Gold


Barney, William. (2001). The Civil War and Reconstruction: a student companion. REF 973.703 B26 2001
Brown, Thomas J. (1997). American eras: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877. REF 973.7 Am3 1997 Look for the volume with a photograph of Lincoln on the spine.
Salzman, Jack, et. al. (1996). Encyclopedia of African-American culture and history. REF 973.049607 En1 1996 A 5-volume set with gray covers.
Schneider, Dorothy and Carl. (2000). Slavery in America: From colonial times to the Civil War. REF 973.0496 Schl 2000
Waldstreicher, David. (2001). The struggle against slavery: a history in documents. REF 306.3 W14 2001.


Books about slavery or the Abolitionist movement will usually be found around 306 and 326. Books about general Civil War history, battles and politics will be found around 973.7. Biographies can be found at 921, listed alphabetically by the subject's last name (for example, a biography of Frederick Douglass would carry the call number: 921 Douglass).
Cosson, Jody. (2008) Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877). 48 pages. 973.09 C82 2008
Currie, Stephen. (2006). The quest for freedom: the abolitionist movement. 112 pages. 973.7 CP3 2006
DeFord, Deborah H. (2006). African Americans during the Civil War. 112 pages. 973.7 D36 2006
Jordan, Anne Devereaux. (2007). Slavery and Resistance. 80 pages. 306.36 J76 2007
Olsen, Christopher. (2006). The American Civil War: a hands-on history. 286 pages. 973.7 O18 2006
Tackach, James. (2005). The Abolitionist movement. 326.8 Ab7 2005

Other Resources


For these Gale Group Resources, use the subject term: United States Civil War, 1861-1865
Academic OneFile
Biography in Context For information on famous people associated with the Civil War or Reconstruction. Search by the person's last name.
General OneFile
Expanded Academic ASAP
Student Edition
US History in Context
History Study Center Contains primary and secondary sources.
Issues and Controversies in American History
The New York Times (1851-2005) Primary sources.
SIRS Copy this subject heading: U.S., History, Civil War (1861-1865) and paste it into the search field.

Internet sites

The Civil War Home Page Large, easily browsed web site on every aspect of the Civil War. Many primary sources, including government documents, slave narratives and photographs. This is a must for Civil War research!
NPS Civil War Web Site Because so many Civil War battlefields are now part of the National Park Service, you can visit this great NPS website for information the battlefields, the Soldiers and Sailors System (a searchable database of names) and African-Americans in the Civil War.
Library of Congress Another government website with primary documents. Maps, Photographs, letters and diaries from soldiers, slave narratives and government documents.
The National Archives Primary sources on the Civil War and Reconstruction, including Mathew Brady's photographs and important letters, telegrams and documents.
The American Civil War Home Page This University of Tennessee is loaded with information and links to many other websites. This site has lots of good general information, but it also links to many more specialized sites, such as the Civil War Music Site, map collections, vintage cartoon collections, women in the Civil War and Jewish- Americans in the Civil War, just to name a few. If you are having trouble finding specialized sources, go here!

BPL: Electronic Resources

You can sign up online for an ecard and then go to the Electronic Resources page to do one-box searching. You can also check the links on the left side of the page to search one or more subject areas. A great resource for primary sources; ask Ms. H if you need help figuring out which one to use. Also:
History Resource Center: U.S.. A good starting point for pre-search and fact-checking as well as more advanced searches. Use the subject search United States Civil War, 1861-1865. This site will also let you limit your searches to reference, biographies, periodicals, news, primary sources or maps and multi-media.
Archive of Americana. Search for primary sources: pamphlets, newspapers and government publications.

Updated, 4/11