Harper’s Weekly Online

by Jim on November 18, 2011

Ever wonder how newspapers during Civil War covered the battles? Are your doing any research into an aspect of the Civil War and need a great primary source? Well, the Son of the South website has digitized versions of Harper’s Weekly online for your review. According to the website, they have “over 7,000 pages of original Civil War content, and is full of incredible photographs, original illustrations, and eye-witness accounts of the defining moments of this Historic Struggle.” They have even organized the information based on each year of the war, different battles, generals, slavery, medicine and the Lincoln Assassination. How can you use this collection in your classroom?

  • Have students use this as research for a paper or report
  • Have students create their own newspaper with accounts of a battle
  • Have students read the July 18, 1863 and the “First Report from Gettysburg” and ask why did it take 17 days to get information out in the paper?
  • Have students review and reflect on the ads in the papers
  • Have students review and reflect on the cartoons in the paper and what impact they may have had on attitudes toward the War.
  • Check out the sketch of the Maryland Battery at Antietam, then have students research where the Maryland Battery was located at on the Antietam Battlefield. You may even want to contact an Antietam park Ranger or two? (talk about Subject Matter Experts!)

Let me know your thoughts on how you can use this great resource. Until next time…happy reading!


Digital Historical Newspapers

by fifer1863 on May 9, 2011

While browsing my Delicious feed the other day, I came across the website and found it very interesting and thought I’d share. is providing digitized versions of newspapers from throughout history.  According the the website the “site focuses primarily on HOW news of major, and not so major, events in American history were reported in newspapers of the time. In addition, there is information about the technology used to produce newspapers over the past 400 years.”

Naturally,  my first thought was to explore the Civil War era.  So I clicked on the “Online Newspaper Archive” and then selected the 1861-1865 folder.  To my surprise, there were only three folders (63-65) within this folder.  Alas, perhaps they have not digitized all of the papers from 1861 & 1862 yet.  From there I drilled down to 1863 and saw a link for the November 20th Edition of the New York Times covering the Gettysburg Address.  From there it pulls up a thumbnail version of the newspaper which you can hover over and a magnified version of that area of the paper will appear in the center of the page.

After some zooming around, I finally found the article about the ceremony.


HistoryBuff.Com screenshot

It was interesting to read about the events that occurred that day (and the preceding evening) from a reporter’s point of view.  As I was reading the article I was thinking about how this could be used in the classroom and came up with some ideas.  Aside from using it as reference for a report, you could have your students research the event using photographs and other digital primary resources and then have them “report” on the event as though they were there.  You could use this as an example for how one could be written or use it afterward to see how your student’s compared to the original.

What are your thoughts on how this could be used in the classroom?


Abraham Lincoln Cartoons

by fifer1863 on February 14, 2011

I came across the following link and thought I would share:

The HarpWeek website and has over 400 political cartoons on the Lincoln presidency.  You can view different people, symbols, topics, places or artists that had something to do with these cartoons.  You could easily have your students select one of the hundreds of cartoons and then research and write an “editorial” abut the cartoon.

Here is an interesting example:

This cartoon is from The Phunny Phellow paper published in October 1864 and was drawn by Thomas Nast.  Confederate President Jefferson Davis can be seen here issuing a quote that he gave during an interview.  According to some, Lincoln was the major reason that there could be no peace in the country.  Thomas Nast, who was an ally of Lincoln, used this cartoon to illustrate how Davis also shared some of the blame in preventing peace.  Pay particular attention to the “History of the Confederacy” heading.

Why did Nast choose those locations and events?  What impact do you think this cartoon would have on people?

Check out the cartoons and let me know how you can integrate them.