Civil War Collection Launches Online

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The world's largest online collection of Civil War materials, including photographs, slave manifests and rare letters, has just been launched by to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday.

The collection helps to document the lives of more than 12 million individuals affected by the Civil War. It reveals some harsh realities of the time, such as chronicling the movement of thousands of slaves to New Orleans to work in the booming cotton industry. It also sheds light on some of the women who, disgusted by slavery and desiring national unity, disguised themselves as men in order to fight in the war.

Five new databases have been added to the company's already large Civil War collection. They include the Abraham Lincoln Papers from the Library of Congress, New Orleans slave manifests dating from 1807 to 1860, confederate pension applications from Georgia, confederate applications for presidential pardons, and U.S. Civil War soldier records, which contain more than 4.2 million materials that profile nearly every officer and soldier who fought in the Civil War.

The collection of more than 20,000 letters written to and from President Lincoln is especially revealing. Lincoln used to receive notes urging him to support white supremacy. The president's private secretary, John Nicolay, would fire back polite, yet cutting, replies.

At least two other institutions are marking the anniversary of Lincoln's birthday with special exhibits and online offerings.

"With Malice to None," a new exhibit at the Library of Congress, allows visitors to view everything from the first draft of the emancipation proclamation, which freed the slaves, to the personal effects Lincoln was carrying with him on the night of April 14, 1865, when he was assassinated at Ford's Theater in Washington.

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