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Press Release
October 5, 2010

National Archives Opens Part Two of Civil War Exhibit on November 10, 2010

Groundbreaking exhibit includes special 4-day display of original Emancipation Proclamation

Washington, DC…On Wednesday, November 10, the National Archives will unveil the second part of its groundbreaking exhibit Discovering the Civil War. This exhibit peels back 150 years of accumulated analysis, interpretation, and opinion to take a fresh look at the Civil War through little-known stories, seldom-seen documents, and unusual perspectives. Discovering the Civil War presents the most extensive display ever assembled from the incomparable Civil War collection of the National Archives. Discovering the Civil War Part Two: Consequences is free and open to the public, and will be on display in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, through April 17, 2011. The exhibition is presented by the Center for the National Archives Experience and the Foundation for the National Archives.

***The original Emancipation Proclamation, which is rarely shown, will be showcased in a special four-day display during Part Two of the exhibit, from November 11 to November 14, 2010.

Discovering the Civil War offers visitors the chance to join researchers in unlocking secrets, solving mysteries, and uncovering unexpected events in Civil War records of the National Archives. Part Two – Consequences uses letters, diaries, photos, maps, petitions, receipts, patents, amendments, and proclamations from the Civil War collection of the National Archives.It combines these unique documents with engaging touch-screen interactives incorporating social media tools in a physical environment inspired by 21st Century research rooms. Rather than trying to recreate 1860, these interactives let visitors see the war through the lens of 2010 technology. Instead of a traditional chronological approach, the exhibition explores five broad themes:

Invention and Enterprise - Both the Union and Confederate governments increased spending during the war. Millions of dollars were spent on new or improved cannons, guns, shells, tents, ambulances, and artificial limbs. The role of the telegraph and the railroad expanded.How did this spending and dramatic changes in transportation and communication affect the war?

Prisoners and Casualties - The life of a Civil War soldier or sailor involved week after week of routine drills, inspections, and housekeeping. Combat relieved the tedium, but often with bitter consequences such as death, injury, or captivity that changed lives forever. Many diseases ran through the ranks, causing even more misery than battle. What were the costs of battle? What kinds of care did the wounded, sick, and dead receive?And how were prisoners treated by their captors?

Emancipations - The path to emancipation was a gradual and uneven one, shaped by military events, government policies, and the actions of enslaved people who pursued and fought for their freedom. How did the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery evolve? Were there two 13th Amendments, and how did they differ? How did a war over secession become one for human freedom?What role did Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation play?

Spies and Conspiracies - During the Civil War both sides used their resources to conduct intelligence operations that would give them an advantage. While these intelligence operations were often disjointed and uncoordinated, both sides experienced occasional successes. Uncover the covert Civil War by exploring questions such as how did the North and South spy on each other? What conspiracies were formed during the war? And what kinds of sabotage took place?

Endings and Beginnings - At the end of the Civil War, the South lay devastated. Many of its people were refugees. About 250,000 Confederate soldiers had died. And four million newly freed people were living alongside their former owners. While many Americans—North and South—desired reconciliation, there were no guidelines on how to create a new social, political, and economic order.How did the South begin to rebuild itself? How did former slaves begin to shape their lives as free people? And what role did the Federal Government play?

In Part Two - Consequences, visitors will discover:

  • That two 13th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were proposed by Congress;
  • How a congressional investigation into war profiteering transformed the meaning of the word “shoddy;”
  • Firsthand accounts of the Battle of Gettysburg at the veteran’s 75th reunion filmed by the Army Signal Corps;
  • Original Freedmen’s Bureau records documenting murders and outrages committed against African Americans;
  • Innovative wartime patents including a multipurpose device that could serve as a tent, knapsack or blanket; and
  • How to decode a secret message. In this part of the exhibit visitors will also be able to use social media to share their discoveries with others.

Discovering the Civil War marks the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will be shown in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Part Two: Consequences runs from November 10, 2010, through April 17, 2011.Part I: Beginnings ran April 30 - September 6, 2010. A special exhibition catalogue will be published in fall 2010.

The National Archives is located on the National Mall on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. Fall/winter Exhibit Hall hours are 10 A.M. – 5:30 PM daily, except Thanksgiving and December 25 (through March 14). Spring hours are 10 AM – 7 PM (March 15-Labor Day).

Discovering the Civil War will embark upon a major, multi-city national tour beginning in 2011.

About the Foundation for the National Archives

The Foundation for the National Archives is an independent nonprofit that serves as the National Archives’ private-sector partner in the creation of and ongoing support for the National Archives Experience, which includes permanent exhibits, educational programs, traveling exhibits, special events and film screenings, educational literature, and historical/records-related products and media. The Foundation helps the public understand the importance of the holdings of the National Archives by presenting the depth and diversity of the records through award-winning, interactive educational exhibits and programs. It generates financial and creative support for the National Archives Experience from individuals, foundations, and corporations who share a belief in the importance of innovative civics education.

For more information about Discovering the Civil War or to obtain images of items included in the exhibition, call the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

Connect with Us on:
Twitter:   @archivesnews
Special Civil War Twitter feed:  @discovercivwar
Facebook:   USNationalArchives

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