To help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Michigan Sate University Archives & Special Collections partnered with MATRIX to make a unique digital repository of all its collections related to the Civil War. Included in this archive are a number of photographs and historic documents that document the soldiers, places, and equipment of the Civil War. Most central to the archive, however, is the vast collection of Civil War letters written to and from Michigan Civil War soldiers and their families and sweethearts. These letters are scanned in to the site along with a side-by-side view of a typed transcript, making comparison between the two easy and seamless.
The value of these letters to the understanding of the Civil War is priceless. These letters do the significant work of rehumanizing Civil War soldiers and allowing researchers, scholars, and students to connect with the story of the Civil War on both an academic and personal level. These letters also allow us to trace the experiences of a particular soldier throughout the duration of the war in order to study how their experiences affected their outlook on life and how various units travelled throughout the conflict. Finally, these documents also allow us to tell history from the soldier’s point-of-view— giving us an alternative perspective from which we can compare and contrast the official historic record presented in textbooks.
MATRIX invites you to spend time with these archives and get to know the men who experienced the Civil War up close. We hope that by reading their letters, our current perspective on the Civil War can be deepened and personalized and more significant scholarly research can be conducted.