Research Tools

The on-line tools for historical research are enormously rich for the Civil War. Here are several that will help to research Philadelphia and Philadelphians during the war.


Frank Taylor. Philadelphia in the Civil War. Philadelphia: City of Philadelphia, 1913

To honor the 50th anniversary of the war, the city commissioned this work; the text (courtesy of Penn) and map are on-line:

We have uploaded the illustrations to a Flickr photo set - they can be viewed at

Guide to Civil War Research Resources in Philadelphia

This is sponsored by Philadelphia's Civil War History Consortium.


Pennsylvania Volunteers of the Civil War

Compiled by the Pennsylvania Civil War Volunteers, this is an excellent site for tracking down particular soldiers and their units.

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission

Choose State Archives: Research Topics: Civil War to find many digitized state records, many involving lists of soldiers.

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System

A database from the National Park Service.


Maps, City Directories, Property Plans (and more)

Led by the Athenaeum, several Philadelphia institutions have contributed to the Philadelphia GeoHistory network.

  • Samuel Smedley's Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, 1862
  • McElroy's City Directory of Philadelphia, 1861 to 1865
  • Hexamer General Survey, 1866 and later

Civil War Maps

The collection at the Library of Congress.


Prints & Photographs, Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has digitized 7000 of its Civil War pictures.

Civil War Prints and Ephemera

In 1884, collector John McAllister donated his extensive collection of Civil War prints to The Library Company of Philadelphia. From this page, scroll down to the McAllister Collection.

Newspapers & Magazines

Harpers Weekly, 1861-1865

This was an important national magazine during the war; you can keyword search for Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Civil War Era Newspaper Collection

For the Civil War years, Penn State has digitized more than 50 newspapers from around the state, including three from Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Inquirer, 1861-1865

The Free Library of Philadelphia has digitized many years of the Inquirer; you'll need a Free Library card and PIN number to access them remotely. The link takes you to a list of databases; look for Civil War Archive under History & Government.

New York Times Historical

This is a Drexel library database (password required).

Chronicling America

This is a project through the Library of Congress to digitize newspapers from around the nation; the collection includes some from Pennsylvania in the 1860s.

Scientific American, 1861-1865

Helpful to learn about technological stories during the war.

Government Records

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion.

  1. For the hard copies in the library:
  2. Lexis Nexis Congressional (password required):
    ---(hint: try "rebellion records" in the keyword search)
  3. Cornell's website

The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, 1861-65

The Internet Archive has these volumes, courtesy of the California Digital Library.

U.S. Census of 1860

National Archives & Records Administration

The nation's record keeper has many resources related to the Civil War, and you can search for Philadelphia-related topics. Some resources are on-line, and others are hard copies at the Philadelphia branch at 9th & Chestnut.

State Library of Pennsylvania: US Civil War Collection

This digitized collection includes a range of documents--everything from printed speeches and soldiers' accounts to the US Christian Commission's report on the Battle of Gettysburg.,1