Primary Sources

Library of Congress Acquires Collection of Civil War Images

The Library of Congress recently took ownership of more than 500 rare Civil War images when 87-year-old Robin Stanford delivered her stereograph images from her collection to the library.

“They’re just tremendously significant,” Bob Zeller, president of the Center for Civil War Photography, told the Washington Post. “These are not post-war … or after Union occupation. These are actual scenes of slavery in America.”

You can view the 77 of the images online now at the Library of Congress.

Here are a few of my favorites:





Merry Christmas

by fifer1863 on December 25, 2014

On January 3, 1863, Harper’s Weekly ran the following Thomas Nast image of Santa Claus visiting the Civil War Soldiers


What can you see in the picture?  There is so much to see in this photo.  From the drummer boys playing with the Jack-in-the-box to the troops chasing a pig in the background (notice one soldier falling down in the chase).

How about a little seek and find.  Can you find:

  • a drum
  • a soldier with a pipe
  • Santa’s Reindeer
  • two American Flags
  • A soldier with a stocking
  • a soldier climbing a pole

This image is fun to look at and rich in details.  I love the outfit that Santa is wearing, the soldiers in their great coats, the Sibley tents and the “Welcome Santa” sign.  According to an brief article in the paper, Santa is showing the soldiers “Jeff Davis’s future.  He is tying a cord pretty tightly around his neck, and Jeff seems to be kicking very much at such a fate.” The article also says that a group of soldiers in the background are playing football.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.


Using GIMP to Colorize Civil War Era Photos

by fifer1863 on October 14, 2014

Bringing Civil War Photos to Life with Color

As you know I am a huge fan of having students use primary sources in the classroom.  This is especially true when comes to using photographs from the Library of Congress.  I have blogged about using images in the past.  I have also crated videos on finding photos from the Library of Congress, Creating Then and Now Images and Using Them  with Google Earth.

The Civil War in Living Color!

Here is a new way that you and your students can work with photographs in your classroom.  As you know, photographs from the Civil War era are in black and white.  Well, while the image may be in black and white, the original subjects certainly were in full color!  The following is an image of John Burns who is the only civilian to fight in the Battle of Gettysburg.


And here is the same photo of John Burns that I have colorized.

John Burns Colorized


Using the free photo editing software GIMP, I have taken a once boring, black and white image and brought Mr. Burns to life with a little bit of color.  Using a process of adding layers and layer masks, you are able to bring the images to life.  Have your students research clothes, weapons, landscapes, etc.  Have them think about a picture and what color an object or person might be an why.  This gets them thinking about an image and then creating something entirely new based on their research.

How To Video:

Here is a video on how you can colorize your own Civil War photos:



If you try this, take a moment and let me know either here on the blog, on Facebook or via Twitter.


Exploring the Rose Farm with Google Earth

July 22, 2014

I am often asked about where the Rose Woods is in Gettysburg and how others can find it when they visit.  Well, I took a few minutes and created a video showing you exactly where the Rose Woods is in Gettysburg and where you can find the famous photographs of the dead soldiers.     […]

Read the full article →

Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive

July 2, 2014

The Digital Library of Georgia has released the Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive online.  This is way cool to access these primary sources.  The following is a press release: The Digital Library of Georgia is pleased to announce the availability of a new online resource: The Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive. The Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive provides online […]

Read the full article →

Google News Archive

November 5, 2012

Here is a tool that I have been exploring and showing teachers how to use for a while now and it’s high time I shared it with you, my readers. Google news provides you with the ability to search their archives going all the way back to the late 1800s.  This is a great tool […]

Read the full article →

Halloween During the Civil War

October 31, 2012

Just a quick Civil War themed Halloween post for everyone to enjoy. Here is a photo from the October 26, 1861 edition of Harper’s Weekly.  It is called “Jeff Davis, Reaping the Harvest” and shows Confederate President Jefferson Davis standing in a field gathering crops with skulls on top of them.   If you check […]

Read the full article →

Teaching the Civil War Podcast Episode 26 – Welcome Back

August 10, 2012

      Thanks for staying subscribed to my podcast and I hope you enjoy listening. In this episode I am talking about computer troubles, conference travels, and finding primary sources from the Kansas Historical Society and their Kansas Memory Project. Feedback on the show? email me at Follow Me on Twitter Music is by […]

Read the full article →

Available online document from Western Illinois University

July 11, 2012

Available online document from Western Illinois University Malpass Library of a National Union League Pledge. The Digitization Center has been making historical documents available online. The database access is free to the public. Civil War enthusiasts our library has digitized Charles Miles National Union League Pledge. It is dated February 18, 1865 (originally 1863). This […]

Read the full article →

Teaching the Civil War Podcast Episode 21 – The US Capital

May 3, 2012

      Thanks for staying subscribed to my podcast and I hope you enjoy listening. In this episode I share an interview with Ms. Sharon Gang who is with the US Capital Visitor Center.  Ms. Gang talks about how the Capital is remembering the Civil War. Here is a copy of their press release: […]

Read the full article →

Teaching the Civil War Podcast Episode 18 – Language Arts

March 30, 2012

      Thanks for staying subscribed to my podcast and I hope you enjoy listening. In this episode I discuss how you can teach the American Civil War in the Language Arts Classroom.  I also share the Sullivan Ballou letter. Here is a photo of Sullivan Ballou:   Feedback on the show? email me […]

Read the full article →

Teaching the Civil War Podcast Episode 16 – Using Math to Teach the Civil War

March 8, 2012

      Thanks for staying subscribed to my podcast and I hope you enjoy listening. In this episode I talk a bit about how you can use Math to teach and learn about the Civil War. Feedback on the show? email me at Follow Me on Twitter Music is by Mark Ferguson and is […]

Read the full article →

Teaching the Civil War Podcast Episode 9.5 – Happy Thanksgiving

November 23, 2011

      Thanks for staying subscribed to my podcast and I hope you enjoy listening. Just a short episode today to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Feedback on the show? email me at Follow Me on Twitter Music is by the Mark Ferguson and is used with permission. Subscribe in iTunes SHOW NOTES: Today […]

Read the full article →

Harper’s Weekly Online

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 […]

Read the full article →

Digital Historical Newspapers

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 […]

Read the full article →

Harriet Tubman resources from the Library of Congress

March 25, 2011

Here is a quick link to some great resources on Harriet Tubman that are available via the digital collections at the Library of Congress. These resources include items like photographs, books, and various manuscripts. The Harriet Tubman Online Resources page provides numerous links to different websites that all contain digital historical resources related to Harriet […]

Read the full article →

Abraham Lincoln Cartoons

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 […]

Read the full article →

Digital Resource Centers

January 17, 2011

There are numerous online libraries of digital archives that offer a vast array of primary sources that allow exploration and interpretation of the past. These primary sources are different however, in that they are not touched or felt but displayed on a computer screen in an electronic format (Friedman, 2005). These online libraries are often […]

Read the full article →

Santa Seek & Find

December 24, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS I have blogged about Christmas in the past so I thought that I would continue the tradition of showing more connections of Christmas and the Civil War. This time I am going to focus on a famous sketch of “Merry Old Santa Claus” by Thomas Nast. This sketch appeared in the January 1, […]

Read the full article →

The Lincoln Archive

July 17, 2010

During the recent ISTE Conference, I had the opportunity to meet Karen Needles who is the Director for the Lincoln Archives Digital Project (LADP). According the the website, “the Lincoln Archives Digital Project is providing unlimited access to the historic but fragile paper records of the administration of President Abraham Lincoln.”  This project is “identifying […]

Read the full article →