Being from the midwest, I totally understand that there are millions of people in the U.S. alone, who will never be able to afford to visit Washington, D.C. long enough to examine the millions of records housed in the National Archives relating to the Civil War.  The internet also provides ready access to the global communites who also have an interest in the American Civil War and Abraham Lincoln.

This year we begin the 150th commemoration of the greatest conflict our nation has known.  This project provides users with the documents written by those who were involved, both north and south.   By clicking on “National Archives” you can begin exploring the record groups which hold the history of the Civil War and the Lincoln administration in the North, and RG 109 and others, which are the captured Confederate records, telling the story of the southern conflict.  The finding aids provide vital information about when and why the agency was created.  Entry descriptions provide more detail about the kind of records available.

There is no inventory of the holdings in the National Archives.  A box of records can contain anywhere from 100 documents to almost 2000 records.  Most Civil War records are either double folded or tri-folded.  Each document must be removed from the box, unfolded and read to determine if the document is within the scope of the project.  It is then scanned at 600 dpi, 24 bit, full color, for preservation purposes.

Digital projects are labor intensive.  Much time must be spent in preparing the documents, as well as scanning them, re-folding them and returning them to their box.  After the scanning process, the documents must be uploaded into a database, tagged with information which will allow the user to locate records, and related records in a matter of seconds. 

We use Zoomify to convert the image that goes online to enable zooming in for finer detail.  It takes the 600 dpi image from 100 megs down to approximately a 6 meg file.  It shrinks the size of the file but maintains the high quality for viewing purposes. 

This project is funded solely by your subscription! 

  • It takes 140 annual subscriptions to hire one person to scan documents for one year. 
  • It will take 400 annual subscriptions to purchase a book scanner, because many of the documents are within volumes which cannot be scanned on a flatbed scanner.
  • It takes 40 subscriptions to pay the $6000 annual hosting and digital storage costs for the project, which currently has over 70 gigs online at this time, which is growing every day.

We guarantee that the digital products you receive on the website are taken from the original document.  Color provides important data in 19th century history.  Black and white is not acceptable, and scanning microfilm, which is a low resolution “cheap and dirty” solution is not an acceptable solution.  What you see here is what you will see if you were to visit the National Archives and look at the original itself.

The documents are transcribed, since the majority are handwritten, for full search capabilities.  And they are only transcribed in the United States.  We don’t outsource our history.

Become a partner of the Lincolnarchives Digital Project by subscribing and lending your support to providing access to these wonderful records.

Karen Needles, Director, Lincolnarchives Digital Project.

Here is a sample document from RG 393, U. S. Army Command relating to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln


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