Illinois Ancestors: Civil War sesquicentennial continues

Illinois Ancestors: Civil War sesquicentennial continues

Every American needs to continue the multi-year commemoration of the Civil War which took place 150 years ago, 1860-1865.

For example, in Illinois, the website of the Illinois Sesquicentennial at includes "a statewide calendar of events related to the Sesquicentennial, a timeline of Illinois and the Civil War, images and artifacts of the era, downloadable PDFs of Civil War-related articles and materials, suggestions for further reading on topics throughout the site, and featured articles" — one-stop shopping for folks interested in commemorating the sesquicentennial.

To navigate the timeline, "click on the year of interest and select a month or start from January and scroll through the entire year. Along the way you will find links to images, other sites, and related information."

On a national level, the Civil War Trust, whose mission "is the preservation of America's significant Civil War battlefields by protecting the land and educating the public about the vital roles those battlefields played in directing the course of our nation's history," has a most informative website at For example, toolbars across the top of this website provide links to news, maps, 360 (digitally tour battlefield panoramas in 360 degrees), in four (four-minute videos), photos, books, battle apps, blogs, saved land, battlefields, land preservation and education (including contests, quizzes and a coloring book).

On a personal note, it was especially meaningful to take the tour of the Battle of Chancellorsville, since one of my great-uncles had his arm shot off at that battle and a subsequent amputation resulted in his early death. (Be sure to read the virtual tour instructions before beginning your tour of any battleground site.)

The articles in the organization's quarterly magazine, "Hallowed Ground," would interest anyone concerned with Civil War history. From the home page, click on "see sample issue" to read an entire issue, or click on "back issue index" to select specific topics. For example, the Spring 2014 issue (volume 15, number 1) includes an article, "Walmart Controversy Fully Resolved;" the Winter 2013 issue (volume 14, number 4) has the feature articles, "Life of the Civil War Soldier in the Army," "Life of the Civil Soldier in Camp" and "Life of the Civil War Soldier in Battle."

The organization rightfully boasts, "Every issue is packed with articles from the world's top Civil War historians, the latest news on battlefield preservation efforts, and so much more."

A subscription to the magazine is sent to all members; an individual membership starts at $35. For more information, write The Civil War Trust, 1156 15th Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, D.C. 20005; or phone 1-800-CW-TRUST

"The Civil War Trust has worked to save and preserve more than 38,500 acres of battlefield land at 120 battlefields in 20 different states."

What better way to honor our soldiers of the Civil War than to make a donation to the Civil War Trust's most recent project—helping to save the battleground land at Glendale, Va. — detailed at

Researchers underuse manuscript collections

A recent article by the National Genealogical Society (NGS) includes the following statement: "Manuscript collections probably stand first among records least utilized in genealogical research." The possible reasons for this observation could be that researchers do not know how to access manuscript collections and/or researchers do not understand the types of records found in manuscript collections. In any case, this situation can be remedied.

For example, when contacting or visiting a repository having genealogical resources, it is important to inquire, "What manuscripts do you have" and "How can they be searched?" Local libraries and/or genealogical societies have files for family records; major repositories, including university libraries also have such files.

In addition to checking for such materials in the area where you live, check any in the area where an ancestor and his/her descendants lived. "Where a descendant ended up often becomes the 'last home' for collections which may not have any connection to that locale."

According to the NGS article, many university libraries have made special collections available on the Internet, including North Carolina State and Duke University.

To read this entire article, visit

Queries and genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (2):Internet, People