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Research Tip: Digitized Civil War-Era Newspapers

July 2, 2013

The Library of Congress has a wonderful online exhibit called The Civil War in America.  Its introduction explains that the exhibit “assembles more than 200 unique items, many of which have never been seen by the public, to commemorate the sesquicentennial of this nation’s greatest military and political upheaval. Drawing from hundreds of thousands of items from across many collections of the Library of Congress, the materials included in this exhibition attest to the valor, sacrifices, emotions, and accomplishments of those in both the North and South whose lives were affected by the bitter conflict of 1861–1865.”

In the “December 1862-October 1863” section of the exhibit you can find the Vicksburg Daily Citizen of July 2, 1863, the last issue of the besieged city’s newspaper.  The issue is printed on the back of a floral wallpaper, common during the Civil War in areas where newsprint supplies had long been exhausted.  Two days before the city surrendered, the defiant spirit of the Confederates is still evident.  The paper reads: “The Yankee Generalissimo surnamed Grant has expressed his intention of dining in Vicksburg on the Fourth of July. . . . Ulysses must get into the city before he dines in it.”

Vicksburg Daily Citizen, July 2, 1863

An inside page of the July 2, 1863, The Daily Citizen from Vicksburg, Mississippi, and some of the wallpaper used to print on.  You can see the image of the wallpaper coming through on the printed side.

The Library of Congress has many other Civil War-era newspapers on its “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers” website.

Many states also have sites where newspapers, including Civil War-era newspapers, have been digitized.  In Wisconsin digitized newspaper are available on BadgerLink via most libraries.  In Minnesota the site is called the MnLink Gateway.  If you are in a participating library, these resources should connect automatically.  If you are researching from home you will probably need to log-in with your library card number.

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