You don’t have to be a Civil War buff to appreciate the journals, letters and battle accounts on the Library’s website, Community & Conflict: The Impact of the Civil War in the Ozarks, ozarkscivilwar.org.
These are first-person stories of love-sick soldiers, embittered battlefield surgeons and strong-willed women surviving on the ravaged home front.
Now the project that compiled and shared these stories with the world has won a prestigious 2011 Missouri Humanities Award.
Brian Grubbs, project director of the digitized collection, was named a winner of the council’s Distinguished Achievement in Literature for his work to collect the hidden stories of the Civil War so everyone can read them. He and other awardees will be honored this spring. Brian’s project is part of the Missouri Digital Heritage Initiative funded by a Federal Library Services and Technology Act grant administered by the Missouri State Library.
“It is a great honor to accept this award, and I do so on behalf of all the staff and partners who spent long hours working on this project,” Brian said.
The Community & Conflict website opens with a haunting musical score and video collage. From there, the reader can choose from several categories about civilian and military life in the region from 1850-1875. It includes photographs, letters, journals and eyewitness accounts collected from the archives of 22 universities, museums, organizations and individuals in six states.
The amazing story is how Brian and his project staff, Library staff and partner organizations worked since 2007 to find and scan the precise documents and photographs relating to the Ozarks. They painstakingly transcribed every scanned document – most of them written in a challenging, 19th century manuscript style and language. Community & Conflict went live in June 2009.
Brian and the staff also wrote a manual of best practices for others taking on similar projects. Groups in Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia and Cape Girardeau are now doing digital imaging projects, following Brian’s general framework.
Now students, family researchers, history buffs and those who just love a good story can choose from more than 10,000 keyword-searchable documents. The project has since led the Trans-Mississippi Theater Virtual Museum, civilwarvirtualmuseum.org, and the Trans-Mississippi Theater Photo Archive, ozarkscivilwar.org/photographs. Coming soon: an interactive Civil War timeline with photos, documents and artifacts related to those moments in history.
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