The Special Collections department of the Library of Virginia houses a rich collection of information and images relating to the American Civil War. The diversity of the materials and the many collections in which they are housed, however, can create a challenge for researchers. This brief guide is meant simply to point out some of the strengths of our collections. The staff can provide additional information on items that do not appear in the library catalog. To view original items in Special Collections, please contact the department at phone (804) 692-3703 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Library's collections of original prints and photographs relating to the Civil War are many and diverse, and include images made by engravers and photographers throughout the country. Many of the photographs were made under the supervision of Mathew B. Brady, and include scenes of military personnel, preparations for battle, and after-battle effects. The collection also includes portraits of both Confederate and Union officers, and a selection of enlisted men.
Cataloging of several Civil War–related collections in the Prints & Photographs Collection is underway at this time. Descriptions and images of prints and photographs can be found in the Library's online Books and Journal Catalog and in the Stereograph Collection. Included are images of soldiers, Confederate prisons, monuments, hospitals, and various city views
More than four hundred individual song sheets (printed poems intended to be sung) and sheet music compositions that represent the Civil War form this collection. The Library also has many titles that are Confederate Imprints, but not necessarily about the war. In addition to the music, many of the covers are worth noting. They treat a variety of subjects ranging from conventional portraits of generals to battlefield scenes to the popular images of soldiers returning home.
Descriptions and images of items in the illustrated sheet music can be found in the Library's online Books and Journal Catalog. To narrow your search, conduct a subject heading search using the following subject heading: United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Songs and music.
The Library's collection of broadsides includes nearly three hundred titles printed between the years 1861 and 1865. These single-sheet printed documents were often issued locally in response to specific popular or newsworthy events or were otherwise designed for short-lived purposes.
Descriptions and images of the often-illustrated broadsides can be found in the Library's online Books and Journal Catalog and in the Virginia Broadside Collection. To narrow your search, conduct a subject heading search using the following subject heading: United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Poetry.
The Rare Book Collection is particularly rich in documents issued by the individual state governments and the congress, departments, and offices of the Confederate States of America. The collection also contains Confederate almanacs, sermons, and works of history, literature, military science, and politics and provides a general survey of book production in the South during the Civil War.
A selection of rare Civil War–related serials found in the collection includes the Magnolia Weekly, the Southern Illustrated News, the Index, Southern Punch, and the Drum Beat.
Housed in the State Capitol, the Executive Mansion, and other state buildings and
open spaces surrounding Capitol Square, the State Art Collection consists of more than four hundred original works of art representing eminent leaders and important events in Virginia's history and culture. Civil War–related works in the collection include portraits of Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, as well as several Civil War–era statesmen and the former president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis.
Descriptions and images of many of the items in the State Art Collection can be found in the Library's online Books and Journal Catalog and in the State Artwork Collection.