14 May 2014

NGS 2014 Family History Conference -- Session W145 -- Using Civil War Maps in Genealogical Research

Whether you attended the recent NGS conference in person or virtually, I hope you had a great and productive time.  If you were not able to attend the conference, audio tapes of many sessions will become available in the future.  Watch here for an announcement.

In the meantime, I’ve planned a series of quick posts about some of the sessions I attended.  Since it’s impossible to walk away from any NGS conference talk without learning about something or being reminded of a resource or tactic, I will be sharing a few tidbits that caught my attention.

For each talk I will provide title, presenter, session ID and page in syllabus.  This way, those who attended the conference can check out the syllabus for more information and all, in the future, can access the recorded version (as available (R)). I will also share some of my experience with whatever the topic or additional research into the topic that I did.  All of the images used in these posts WERE NOT part of the discussed presentation though they may result from a mentioned resource. 

W145 (R) Using Civil War Maps in Genealogical Research, Cassandra Britt Farrell (Map Specialist and Senior Reference Archivist, Library of Virginia), Syllabus page 51

This was a fascinating talk that focused on Virginia maps.  I do love maps and I have found that Civil War era maps can be particularly detailed and often include excellent detail on geographic features as well as information on those living in the area.

Particularly helpful was the understanding I gained about how maps were created and published and the issues that plagued the Confederate Army in terms of publishing maps.  Her discussion on how maps were quickly produced in the field was fascinating.  The idea of sun prints caught my attention.  If you search the Library of Congress Civil War Map Collection for sun prints, 59 are found for VA, TN and other southern states.

I hadn’t thought about northern newspapers printing maps!  Basically, northerners wanted to see where battles were occurring and learn where there family members were fighting.  These were published in the newspapers of the time.  They may not be the most detailed maps created at the time and yet they can provide context.

New-York daily tribune. (New-York [N.Y.]), 30 May 1864. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030213/1864-05-30/ed-1/seq-1/>

Though the focus of the talk was VA maps, I feel confident that I can use what she discussed to look more deeply into NC maps.  I am familiar with many of them and the NC Archives and its partners have done a wonderful job of creating the North Carolina Maps digitized collection which includes published, manuscript and other types of maps.  I know wonder if there are other hidden civil war era map gems to be found!

The associated syllabus pages provide a great overview of the talk (which covers so much more than my brief summary) and also include a bibliography.

Editor’s Note: This series is not presented in any particular order.

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