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Community & Conflict Prepares for Phase Two

American Civil War scholars and hobbyists will have first-ever, online access to thousands more historical journals and letters in 2010. Two new grants will help expand the online site, “Community & Conflict: The Impact of the Civil War in the Ozarks.”

Since 2009, Community & Conflict has made available free and online some 3,878 pages of historical records for researchers, teachers and the public. A new, $94,269 grant will allow project partners to digitize and host online an additional 2,300 pages of historical documents, diaries, letters, photographs and court records.

Community & Conflict is part of the Missouri Digital Heritage Initiative, which is funded by a Federal Library Services and Technology Act grant administered by the Missouri State Library. Project headquarters is at the Springfield-Greene County Library District. The Community & Conflict Web site can be accessed at www.ozarkscivilwar.org.

“The goal of this project is to look beyond the battlefields and really focus on the lasting impacts the war had on the region,” says Brian Grubbs, project director based at the Springfield-Greene County Library District.

The Library is collaborating locally with the Greene County Archives and Records Center, the History Museum for Springfield-Greene County, Greene County Medical Society, Missouri State University Special Collection and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.

They are also collaborating with multiple regional organizations to complete the project, including the Jasper County, Mo., Records Center; Western Historical Manuscript Collection in Rolla and Columbia; Benton County, Ark., Archives; the Bushwhacker Museum, Nevada, Mo.; Mine Creek Battlefield, Kan.; Rogers Historical Museum, Rogers, Ark.; Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, Springdale, Ark.; University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Special Collections; Territorial Capitol Museum, Kan.; Wichita State University Special Collections; Oklahoma State Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Okla.; The University of Tulsa Special Collections, Okla.; and The Pearce Museum at Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas.

The library district also received a $23,000 grant with Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield from the National Park Service to develop a “Trans-Mississippi Theater Photograph Album” and a “Virtual Museum.”

Staff will scan 500 photographs from Wilson’s Creek Collection for the photo album and 150 3-D objects for the virtual museum. These features will be hosted online through Community & Conflict, and serve as an educational tool to help students, researchers and the general public visualize the war.

“Our mission,” Grubbs says, “is to grant access to rare documents scattered throughout the Midwest, and make them engaging to all audiences.”

The Community & Conflict site opens with a stirring video, created by Wide Awake Films, that introduces the collections’ themes. It features high-caliber scans of rarely seen letters and diaries from both soldiers and civilians revealing the trials of everyday Americans struggling to survive as war erupted around them.

Its deeper value is in providing a rich view of the Civil War as it played out in an often-overlooked region, Grubbs says.

“The Civil War in some areas of the Trans-Mississippi Theater has been relatively unnoticed by scholars, and little digitized materials are available from the region,” Grubbs notes. “As a result, the larger community does not fully understand the role the Ozarks played in the war.

“We have the opportunity to expand the understanding of the Civil War as it occurred in this region, not only by including primary-source documents, but by combining those with multi-media experiences and lesson plans for educators – all of which will be developed in the coming year.”

Contact: Brian Grubbs, project director, 616-0544

Kathleen O’Dell is community relations director of the Springfield-Greene County Library District.

Kathleen O’Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

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