About Our Civil War Collections
Morris Library offers a wealth of primary and secondary resources to assist students and researchers at all levels who wish to study the American Civil War (1861-1865).
The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), located in the Hall of Presidents on the library's first floor, preserves thirty separate collections of original documents related to the war, ranging from several hundred letters to a single letter or diary. Notable collections include the Mann Family Papers, Benjamin Wiley Papers, Edwin Loosely Papers, and Webster-Elliott Correspondence, all chronicling the war's impact on individuals, couples, families and communities in southern Illinois. These primary materials are available for students and researchers to examine in the SCRC reading room, Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30.
Many of these letters are also available to study online through our "Southern Illinois Civil War" webpage. This digital collection now features 700 items totaling nearly 3000 pages of scanned letters, diaries, and photographs. When completed, the webpage will house more than a thousand unique digital items.
Periodic posts on the SCRC blog "Raiders of the Lost Archives" share noteworthy and timely items from our Civil War holdings, highlighting opportunities for further research.
Morris Library's secondary resources include reference materials that cover the political, military, and social aspects of the Civil War and its era. Hundreds of monographs examine the war as a whole and individual battles and campaigns from all angles, including biographical, strategic, diplomatic, and political. Government Documents provide a complete run of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, the Congressional Serial Set, and other contemporary compilations, such as the 1883 Pension reports that list every pensioner in the nation by state and county, giving the reason for disability and the amount received per month.
Morris Library and SCRC will celebrate the Civil War sesquicentennial (2011-2015) with periodic exhibits in the Hall of Presidents and other commemorative activities. The Civil War 150 traveling exhibit, a partnership of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Library of America, will visit Morris Library for three weeks in April-May 2014. This five-panel installation is part of a nationwide effort to publicize the sesquicentennial. Speakers will discuss the local impact of the war before audiences drawn from the university, area schools, and the southern Illinois region.