Indiana County in the Civil War Era

  • Historical studies of the Civil War often focus on the abolitionist fire-eater writings found in sectional publications which fueled the coming of the war, the activities of generals and soldiers fighting in bloody battles, or the political maneuvering of politicians in Washington, DC and Richmond, Virginia.

    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 University 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have done their part to promote the significant history of the region through collecting, cataloging, and housing historical documents, encouraging local historians to write about the period, and creating museum exhibits and holding reenactments and other public history events.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 county and nearby locales.

    The Project

    Because access to these keys to the history of the region is often limited to the user’s ability to visit the archives in person during their hours of operation, we undertook this project 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, Pennsylvania, during the Civil War era.

    These digitized materials were added to POWER Library: Pennsylvania’s Electronic Library to make sure these resources were accessible through the Internet. Descriptive metadata, background essays, and secondary school lesson plans provided by graduate student researchers and subject specialists enhance and connect to these primary source images. 

    Participating Institutions and Organizations