Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What a Great Idea...Sharing History!

I received an email from the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission yesterday advertising their upcoming third signature conference. This year's offering is being held at Virginia Tech on Saturday, May 21, 2011 and is themed "Military Strategy in the American Civil War." The event will be chaired by James "Bud" Robertson. This sounds like a wonderful event and hopefully I can make it "over the mountain" to be there in person. But, interestingly this event isn't really what caught my eye in the announcement.

I was much more intrigued and please to see the following notice:

The Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission and the Library of Virginia are partnering in the Civil War 150 Legacy Project to identify and locate original source materials in Virginia that are related to the Civil War and emancipation. Materials may include letters, memoirs, pension materials, military passes, discharge papers, diaries, hand-drawn maps, and selected memorabilia and other Civil War era manuscripts. Of particular interest to the project are global and pacifist perspectives and the viewpoints of individual African Americans and women. Items must be owned by the individual presenting the materials for digitization.

The Library of Virginia is sending teams of archivists to scan privately-held manuscript material for inclusion on both the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission websites. The teams are coordinating visits with local sesquicentennial committees to ensure coverage of the whole of Virginia.

Locate items within your family collections that document the Civil War and the Civil-War era. Items suitable for the Civil War 150 Legacy Project include:

LettersMilitary passes / discharge papers
Hand-drawn mapsPension materials
Hand-drawn sketchesOther documentary materials not listed
Claims for damages by the Confederate Army or Federal Army

Items must be owned by the individual presenting the materials for digitization. Materials that are photocopied and/or subject to United States copyright law may not be submitted for digitization.

To learn more about this initiative and to how to participate go to:

I sincerely hope this project proves to be a success, but due to past personal experiences, part of me believes that a large portion of the public will be somewhat hesitant to share their family treasures. For some reason there are people out there that want to hoard very significant primary sources that could add to the historical record, especially when they relate to their ancestors. Obviously history is only as good as the sources that the researcher can find, so I wish the Library of Virginia the best with this great idea.

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