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[Detail] Battle [drawing], Hillen


Collection Overview

Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society presents materials held by the New-York Historical Society that document the lives of ordinary citizens from both sides who were involved in the Civil War. Included are photographs and drawings that document the war's impact, recruiting posters used in New York, letters from Civil War Nurse Sarah Blunt and the first and only issue of The Prison Times handwritten by Confederate prisoners in Fort Delaware.

Civil War Treasures is drawn from archival collections housed at the New-York Historical Society. The materials in this collection include Civil War enlistment and recruitment posters, etchings and sketches, envelopes embossed with decorations related to events or portraits of prominent personalities, photographs, and stereographs. The collection also contains a copy of the Prison Times, a newspaper produced by Confederate prisoners of war at a federal prison camp in Delaware; several of Walt Whitman’s letters written from hospital visits to wounded servicemen; a series of letters from Sarah Blunt, a nurse in hospitals at Point Lookout, Maryland, and Harper's Ferry, West Virginia; and manuscripts relating to the work of William Oland Bourne, a New York social reformer, editor, and author. Background on the types of materials included can be found at Archival Collections from which the Civil War Treasures Are Drawn.

The Special Presentation: Before, During, and After the Civil War provides a brief overview of the events of the Civil War, illustrated with graphics from the Civil War Treasures collection. This presentation could be used to introduce students to the collection.

The digitized images and documents in the collection provide access to mid-19th century archival manuscripts and popular graphics that contain a wealth of information on the political and social history of this pivotal era in American history. However, some of the materials in this collection contain language or negative stereotypes that may be offensive to some readers. Students should be prepared for encounters with such historic materials before they begin working with the collection.

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Special Features

These online exhibits provide context and additional information about this collection.

Historical Eras

These historical era(s) are best represented in the collection, although they may not be all-encompassing.

  • The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877

Related Collections and Exhibits

These collections and exhibits contain thematically-related primary and secondary sources. Browse the Collection Finder for more related material on the American Memory Web site.

Other Resources

Recommended additional sources of information.

Search Tips

Specific guidance for searching this collection.

To find items in this collection, search by Keyword or browse by Subject, Name or Archival Collections indexes.

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