Civil War Website Director Wins Missouri Humanities Council Award
December 30, 2011 — Brian Grubbs, project director of a digitized collection of Civil War documents and photographs through the Springfield-Greene County Library District, has won a 2011 Missouri Humanities Council Award for Distinguished Achievement in Literature. Brian and other awardees will be honored at a spring event in Jefferson City.
Community & Conflict: The Impact of the Civil War in the Ozarks, went live in June 2009 at ozarkscivilwar.org two years after the project began. It 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’s not just an award to the individual involved, but for the organization they represent,” said Geoff Giglierano, Missouri Humanities Council executive director. “It should be looked on as something that recognizes the excellence of the institutions they are associated with.”
The Community & Conflict website opens with a haunting musical score and video collage. The reader can select from categories containing photos, letters, journals and eyewitness accounts of civilian and military life in the Ozarks region and Trans-Mississippi Theater from 1850-1875. The materials are from the archives of 22 universities, museums, organizations and individuals in six states.
“It’s a regional resource, and arguably a national resource in terms of pulling things together and putting things in context for other people, Giglierano said.
"We tend to look at the Civil War in a very fragmented and almost parochial way, and nothing happened in isolation. What happened here had a huge impact on the rest of the country and the far West," Giglierano added. "This is a very important part of the large picture that people need to think about if they’re actually going to have an understanding of how the war progressed and why it turned out the way it did.”
Brian and his project staff, Library staff and partner organizations have 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.
“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.
Brian and staff assistants 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 to creation of 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.