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Civil War Site Expands With New Grant

History becomes real when you explore the library’s online site, “Community & Conflict, The Impact of the Civil War on the Ozarks.”

It’s at www.ozarkscivilwar.org, and opens with a stirring video that will pull you in and reveal the trials of soldiers and civilians struggling to survive:

“I fear some of our men are suffering from that terrible disease, home sickness,” L.G. Bennett recorded in his diary at Camp Hammond, Ill., Sept. 17, 1861.

“The condition of the people of Southwest Missouri is positively alarming, they being so destitute as to be in danger of starvation. Robbed repeatedly by the soldiers of both armies, their farms laid waste, their houses and fences burned…” a reporter wrote in 1863.

Since 2009, Community & Conflict has made available free and online some 3,878 pages of historical records. It’s part of the Missouri Digital Heritage Initiative, funded by a Federal Library Services and Technology Act grant administered by the Missouri State Library.

Later this year, American Civil War scholars and hobbyists will have first-ever access to thousands more historical journals and letters, thanks to two new grants.

A $94,269 grant from the Missouri State Library will allow project partners to digitize and host online an additional 2,300 pages of historical documents, diaries, letters, photographs and court records from across the Midwest and South.

A $23,000 grant from the National Park Service will also allow the library district and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield to develop a “Trans-Mississippi Theater Photograph Album” and a “Virtual Museum.” Staff will scan 500 photographs from Wilson’s Creek Collection for the online photo album and 150 3-D objects for the virtual museum.

“Our mission is to grant access to rare documents scattered throughout the Midwest, and make them engaging to all audiences, says Brian Grubbs, project director based at the Springfield-Greene County Library District.

“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,” he says. “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.”

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

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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