Exploring Civil War-Era Philadelphia

As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, both scholars and tourists are looking beyond the battlefields to the hidden histories of soldiers and their families, and of the civilians who supported the effort – stories of the young nation’s struggles over its Constitution and the scope of liberty and self-determination for its people. Philadelphia is rich in sites and stories that illustrate these themes.

In 2005 and 2006 the Civil War History Consortium commissioned a survey of Civil War-era sites and programs in the Philadelphia area. Conducted by Kise Straw & Kolodner, this survey identified close to 200 remaining resources – buildings, monuments, collections, and programs – as well as 200 vanished resources. For more information on this project, visit the Civil War History Consortium website.

This remarkable inventory of Civil War assets will allow the community to develop, on a phased, prioritized basis, a set of tours and narratives with broad-based appeal. The interactive site itself can serve as a resource for scholars as well as for the traveler wishing to build a personalized Philadelphia Civil War experience.

The online presentation of the survey builds on the work of the Philadelphia GeoHistory Network, a project of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries, which in turn draws on the considerable investment by two of its members – the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Records, which provided the current centerline map of the city; and the Athanæum of Philadelphia, whose Philadelphia Architects and Buildings project provides much of the infrastructure for this interactive map. Visit the Philadelphia GeoHistory Network website to view additional Civil War resources, including Civil War-era atlases and a prototype searchable city directory. Next steps in this project include an expansion to encompass the Greater Philadelphia area.

The site survey was supported by a grant from the Heritage Philadelphia Program, a program of the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by the University of the Arts. Additional funding for the complementary projects was provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, and the Phoebe Haas Charitable Trusts.

Website © 2006 Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries