During and after the Civil War, the publishers of Harper’s Weekly strove for editorial and illustrative excellence—famously printing the artwork of Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast—but the magazine was also not afraid to express its overarching opinion: that the Union and democracy must be preserved. This led Southern readers to dub the publication “Harper’s Weakly.” Despite the criticism, the groundbreaking reputation of Harper’s Weekly has endured in the century since it ceased publication, and it remains an important resource for Civil War scholars today.
On the Web, scholars have several options with which to begin a search for Civil War–era issues. One site not to be missed is www.sonofthesouth.net, which offers digitized scans of nearly all the Civil War–era issues of Harper’s Weekly. The site may not be the slickest, and it’s marred by sponsored Google ads and a dark, patterned background, but it offers a treasure trove of historical material to peruse, organized both chronologically and by subject. Digitized pages include hyperlinks to people and topics of interest, which take readers to pages with additional information and resources.
Alexander Street Press has produced an excellent Web site, www.harpweek.com, devoted to providing access to Harper’s Weekly’s rich archives, but it is aimed at libraries or other clients interested in purchasing access to the entire collection. Still, it has some features, a history of the weekly and cartoons that would be of interest to scholars.
Originally published in the January 2009 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here.