From the Rare Book Collection, Catalog #5136.1 Conf., Wilson Library, UNC Chapel Hill.

One hundred and fifty years ago today, America was at war. For four years, southerners and northerners fought, died, survived, mourned, and rejoiced when loved ones returned. And they wrote.

Drawing on the vast holdings of the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, we will present samples of the Civil War’s documentary remains. The concept of Civil War Day by Day is a simple one: every day for the next four years, we will present a document that is 150 years old to the day.

At the conclusion of this project, Civil War Day by Day will contain images of more than 1458 primary source documents. Contributions from Documenting the American South, the North Carolina Collection, the Rare Book Collection, the Southern Folklife Collection, the Southern Historical Collection, and University Archives will include newspapers, pamphlets, books, broadsides, legislation, photographs, sheet music, letters, diaries, order books, and telegrams.

Civil War Day by Day is neither an exhaustive, nor even a representative presentation of our holdings. Rather, it is suggestive, presenting readers with small stories and isolated declarations. It is also a largely unmediated presentation. Readers will encounter our documents as they are presented in our library’s reading rooms—often fragmentary, cryptic, and hastily scrawled.

Acts of interpretation and understanding will be the reader’s. But these moments of discovery need not remain private.  Our hope is that a community of researchers, anxious to share their interpretations, questions, and perhaps, even their transcriptions will emerge as frequent contributors to Civil War Day by Day.

If you have questions about Civil War Day by Day or Wilson Library, please contact us at wilsonlibrary@unc.edu.