It was fought—brother against brother—nearly 150 years ago on our own soil, yet the Civil War remains of great historical and personal significance to Americans and a popular topic with the public.
The Civil War may be the most thoroughly researched conflict in U.S. history, but the trans-Mississippi theater, and, in particular, the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks regions, have not been documented as extensively.
“How many people know that two major battles were fought in this area--Pea Ridge and Wilson’s Creek,” asks Carol Grimes, the Springfield-Greene County Library District’s planning and development coordinator. “Relatively speaking, no one has researched and gathered the documents that tell the stories that need to be told about our region’s involvement.”
Until now, that is. For the past two years, Library employees have worked to create a unique web site and online resource entitled “Community & Conflict: The Impact of the Civil War in the Ozarks.” The project, made possible through a Library Services and Technology Act Digital Imaging Grant funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and coordinated by the Missouri State Library, is a digitized collection of pre-Civil War, Civil War and Reconstruction Era artifacts, including letters, maps, diaries, court and government documents and photographs.
The site, says Historian Brian Grubbs, contains materials gathered from institutions and individuals throughout the region that “document life in the Ozarks during the tempestuous period of 1850-1875 through the exploration of urban development, slavery, agriculture, military life, women and children, civilian refugees and other issues that represent a crucial period in the history and culture of the region.”
The site will be unveiled at an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. on Friday [June 26] in the auditorium at the Library Center. Grubbs will give 20-minute “tours” of the web site at 1:30 and 2: 30 p.m.; at 2 p.m., Jeffrey Patrick of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield will give a brief talk.
The site, ozarkscivilwar.org, opens with a stirring video documentary of moving images of the Civil War, and serves to introduce the themes and topics. A researcher’s dream, the site features high-caliber scans of documents, transcriptions with side-by-side comparisons to scanned images, keyword, geographic and thematic searches, historic interpretation, links to other sites and bibliographic citations.
“Most importantly, the materials on the site tell us,” says Grubbs, “how the war affected the people, our ancestors here in the Ozarks, as they lived in one of the most contested regions of the country.”
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