Press contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022, Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639, Erin Allen (202) 707-7302
Website: "The Civil War in America" exhibition online
Members of the media can find downloadable images from the exhibition in the Library's online pressroom at

August 29, 2012 (REVISED October 16, 2012)

Library of Congress Civil War Exhibition Features Never-Before-Seen Items

Library of Congress Blog to Spotlight Treasures

The Library of Congress exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War will feature more than 200 unique items, many never before on public view. "The Civil War in America" will be free and open to the public, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, from Nov. 12, 2012, to June 1, 2013, in the Southwest Exhibition Gallery of the Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the James Madison Council. Additional funding is provided by Union Pacific Corporation, the Liljenquist family and AARP.

The exhibition will reveal the complexity of the Civil War through those who experienced it first-hand. Never-before-seen items in the Library’s collections offer a human perspective on the war and shed new light on the many ways that this terrible conflict helped shape the American people and the nation.

Among the highlights are:

  • Lithograph, made by Oehmigke & Riemschneider, showing the death of Union Gen. Nathanial Lyon at the Battle of Springfield [Wilson’s Creek] in Missouri on Aug. 10, 1861. News of the American Civil War had an impact on Europe, because emigrants to the United States formed regiments. The firm of Oehmigke & Riemschneider based in Neuruppin, Germany, produced several popular prints, called Bilderbogen, depicting current events, people and places throughout the world. Printed inexpensively, they offered images to Europeans at a time when newspapers had no pictorial tradition. Lyon had several regiments of German volunteers in his troops, so his death was important news in Neuruppin.
  • Autograph letter from Mary Todd Lincoln to Mrs. John C. Sprigg, May 29, 1862. Fatalities during the war were not limited to the battlefield, as the first family discovered. Water piped into the White House from the polluted Potomac River likely caused the typhoid fever to which 11-year-old Willie Lincoln succumbed in 1862. Mary Lincoln (1818-1882) grieved so intensely for Willie that her family feared for her sanity. Her response to the letter received from Mrs. John C. Sprigg said, "We have met with so overwhelming an affliction in the death of our beloved Willie a being too precious for earth, that I am so completely unnerved, that I can scarcely command myself to write."
  • Letter, John P. Jones to his wife, Aug. 24, 1862. For some Union soldiers, their exposure to southern slavery profoundly altered their views on the institution, even before President Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862. John P. Jones wrote to his wife of his increasing sympathies for abolitionism after seeing the inhumanity with which slaves could be treated.
  • Emancipation Proclamation intended for auction at the Philadelphia Sanitary Commission, June 6, 1864. This broadside edition – one of only 48 copies printed – was signed by Pres. Abraham Lincoln, Sec. of State William H. Seward and Presidential Secretary John G. Nicolay. Signed copies could be purchased for $10. The event attracted more than 100,000 visitors and raised more than $1 million.
  • Diary of Georgia teenager LeRoy Gresham. Gresham (1847-1865) had just turned 17 when Gen. William T. Sherman’s Union forces left Atlanta for the "March to the Sea," and his diary entries reflect the anxiety felt by many Georgians who feared their homes would be in Sherman’s path. A longtime invalid, Gresham kept diaries that faithfully recorded the news, his Confederate sympathies and perceptive details about life on the homefront. He began a final entry on June 9, 1865, and died nine days later.

The Library of Congress blog ( will begin a special series of posts on Wednesday, Sept. 17 to complement "The Civil War in America" exhibition. Every Wednesday until the exhibition opens, the blog will spotlight a never-before-seen item of interest, offering an in-depth look into the documents and other artifacts that tell the story of the nation’s greatest military and political upheaval.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 151 million items in various languages, disciplines, and formats. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at

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PR 12-159
ISSN 0731-3527

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