September 24, 2002 Library of Congress Publishes Civil War Desk Reference

Contact: Library of Congress contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022 | Simon & Schuster contact: Rachel Nagler (212) 698-7544

"The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference" has been published by the Library in association with Simon & Schuster and Grand Central Press.

"The Library has been called 'the nation's memory,' having preserved the records of American history for more than 200 years," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "The institution's unparalleled Civil War collections, comprising millions of items, including books, photographs, diaries, paintings and maps, memorialize this bitter conflict that became a defining chapter in our country's history."

With more than 620,000 soldiers killed, an entire population emancipated, and vast sections of the American South destroyed, the Civil War's profound impact on our nation still reverberates today. Drawing on the Library's collections, as well as thousands of works by post-Civil War scholars and experts, "The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference," is a comprehensive, accessible compendium of information on an unusually broad spectrum of topics related to this tumultuous era. In his foreword to the book, James M. McPherson, a leading contemporary historian of the Civil War period, describes the work as "a volume that every library, every student of the Civil War—indeed everyone with an interest in the American past—will find indispensable."

Inspired by the publication of this comprehensive reference guide, a symposium titled "The Civil War and American Memory" will be held Nov. 12-14 at the Library of Congress. The event, which is free and open to the public, will include a keynote speech by historian Gary W. Gallagher and sessions on a wide range of Civil War topics. Space is limited and reservations are recommended by calling (202) 707-1616.

Edited by Civil War scholars Gary W. Gallagher and Paul Finkelman, and Library of Congress writer and editor Margaret E. Wagner, the book is divided into 13 chapters, covering broad themes such as "Antebellum America," "Battles and the Battlefield," "The War on the Water," and "Reconstruction and the Aftermath of the War." Each of these chapters includes more specific topics, such as "The Election of 1860," "Notable Civil War Officers," and "African Americans During Reconstruction." Topics ranging from economic conditions north and south of the Mason-Dixon line on the eve of the war, to the history of slavery in the United States, to the impact of the Civil War on literature and the fine arts, give additional depth to the book's presentation of Civil War events. There are timelines that chronicle major events and brief profiles of significant people. Excerpts from key pieces of legislation and speeches, the words of writers such as Walt Whitman and Herman Melville, and journals and letters of soldiers, nurses and freedmen reflect the personal as well as the political passions of the times. "The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference," a 949-page hardcover book, with more than100 photographs, drawings and maps, is available for $45 in bookstores nationwide and the Library's Sales Shop (credit card orders: 888-682-3557). - Paul Finkelman is the Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa College of Law. He is the author of "An Imperfect Union," "Slavery in the Courtroom," and "Slavery and the Founders." He is co-author of "A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States," editor of the Scribner "Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century," and co-editor of the Macmillan "Encyclopedia of World Slavery."

Gary W. Gallagher is the John L. Nau III Professor of the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia and editor of the "Civil War America" series at the University of North Carolina Press. He has published widely on the subject, most recently "The Confederate War," "The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History" (co-edited with Alan T. Nolan), and "Lee and His Army in Confederate History." He is the recipient of many honors and awards for his books and is co-founder and past president of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites.

Margaret E. Wagner is a writer and editor at the Library of Congress who has contributed essays on military history to many Library publications. She was co-editor of "Mapping the Civil War," "American Treasures in the Library of Congress," and "The Nation's Library."


PR 02-116
ISSN 0731-3527