The period surrounding the Civil War was a time of tremendous significance in the history of the United States. Historical studies have most often focused on the abolitionist fire-eater writings found in sectional publications which fueled the coming of the war, the activities of soldiers fighting in bloody battles or the political maneuvering of politicians in Washington, DC and Richmond, VA. This focus on national events is understandable, but it neglects the important contributions of people on the home front without whose economic, political, and moral support the war could not have carried out to its successful conclusion.
The Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County (HGSIC) and IUP Libraries' Special Collections and Archives have done their part to promote the significant history of the region through collecting, cataloging, and housing historical documents, encouraging local historians to write about the period, and creating museum exhibits and holding re-enactments and other public history events. Every year visitors from local school children getting their first exposure to the war to scholarly researchers working on academic books and articles come to the HGSIC and IUP Libraries Special Collections and Archives to view exhibits or consult manuscript collections which document the wartime history of the locality.
Unfortunately, access to these keys to the history of the region has been limited to the user's ability to visit the repository during their few hours of operation. This cooperative project was undertaken by Indiana University of Pennsylvania and to make these sources available 24/7 on the Internet.
The project involves the digitization of primary sources including letters, diaries, and modern and historical photographs that document the experience of men and women of Indiana County, PA during the Civil War era. These digital images were added to AccessPA's CONTENTdm collection to make them accessible through the Internet. The addition of descriptive metadata and background essays provided by graduate student researchers and subject specialists and secondary school lesson plans enhance and link to images of primary sources.
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