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The Civil War in America

Southwest Gallery of the Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., through June 1

“The War is now becoming a life and death struggle, when the end will be, God alone can tell,” wrote Mr. Gregory, a Southern plantation owner, in 1861. His story and 41 others—told in 201 letters, maps, photos, diaries and manuscripts from the Library of Congress collections—underline this exhibit’s theme: The Civil War hit every American home. Many items here, like an 1862 letter in which Mary Todd Lincoln laments her son Willie’s death, have never been on display before. In the gallery, written materials dominate and create a visual sameness. The show works far better online ( exhibitions/civil-war-in-america), where the images are downloadable, allowing viewers to peruse them and their significance more easily and thoroughly.


Originally published in the April 2013 issue of American History. To subscribe, click here.