Civil War Sesquicentennial Exhibition to Open at Library of Congress Nov. 12; Rare Documents, Artifacts to Reveal Human Side of the Civil War

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To mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Library of Congress will present "The Civil War in America," a major exhibition opening Nov. 12.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Library of Congress will present “The Civil War in America,” a major exhibition opening Nov. 12.

More than 175 unique items—many never before on public view—from the Library’s unparalleled Civil War collections, will be featured in the exhibition. “The Civil in America” will be free and open to the public, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, from Nov. 12, 2012, to May 23, 2013, in the Southwest Exhibition Gallery of the Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the James Madison Council. Additional funding is provided by Union Pacific Corporation, the Liljenquist family and AARP.

“The Civil War in America” will tell the story of the nation’s greatest military and political upheaval. Through diaries, letters, maps, song sheets, newspapers and broadsides, photographs, drawings and unusual artifacts, the exhibition will chronicle the sacrifices and accomplishments of those—from both the North and South—whose lives were lost or affected by the events of 1861–1865.

The exhibition will reveal the complexity of the Civil War through those who experienced it first-hand. It will feature pivotal documents, such as Lincoln’s own reading copy of the second Inaugural Address and Confederate Major Jedediah Hotchkiss’s strategic map made for Stonewall Jackson’s historic Shenandoah campaign, together with little-known gems, including the poignant diary of Georgia teenager LeRoy Gresham and moving war accounts penned by Union veterans who lost limbs in the war. The exhibition will offer a human perspective on the war and shed new light on the many ways that this terrible conflict helped shape the American people and the nation.

Companion programming is planned by multiple divisions throughout the Library and will be announced in the coming months.

“The Civil War in America” is the centerpiece of the Library’s commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. To mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the war—April 12, 1861 at Fort Sumter, S.C.—the Library featured nearly 400 ambrotype and tintype photographs of both Union and Confederate soldiers in an exhibition titled “The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photos from the Liljenquist Family Collection.” The exhibition, which was on display April 12 to Aug. 13, 2011, may be viewed online at

A Library-sponsored conference held last spring focused on the accomplishments of Civil War cartographers and topographic engineers from a multi-disciplinary perspective, and provided new insight into how their maps were used during one of the most difficult periods in U.S. history. The conference, titled “Re-Imagining the U.S. Civil War: Reconnaissance, Surveying and Cartography,” can be viewed online at

The Library, in association with Little, Brown and Company, published “The Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War” by Margaret E. Wagner, with an introduction by historian Gary W. Gallagher. The 240-page, hardcover volume, with more than 350 color illustrations, is a companion volume to the upcoming exhibition. It is available for $35 in bookstores nationwide and at the Library of Congress Shop, Washington, D.C., 20540-4985. Credit-card orders are taken at (888) 682-3557, or shop on the Internet at

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 151 million items in various languages, disciplines, and formats. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at

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ISSN 0731-3527

Press contacts:
Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022, afis(at)loc(dot)gov
Donna Urschel (202) 707-1629, durschel(at)loc(dot)gov
Members of the media can find downloadable images from the upcoming Civil War exhibition in the Library’s online pressroom at

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Audrey Fischer
Library of Congress
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