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National Archives opens 2nd Civil War show

By Linda Wheeler

The National Archives in Washington opens the second part of its magnificent “Discovering the Civil War” on Nov. 10 with a whole new assortment of fascinating, little-known and never-seen treasures from its vast holdings. And it tops even that with a special four-day display of the original and rarely exhibited five-page Emancipation Proclamation beginning on Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11, and ending Nov. 14.

There is much to like in this free show, from the handy device that zooms in on the image of a slave picking cotton that decorates a Confederate bill to an interactive exhibit that allows a visitor to decipher an encrypted military message. Visitors can also pick up a “sound stick” to hear letters read aloud that were written by slaves and freedmen to President Lincoln.

As fun as those things are, the original documents are the stars of the show for me. One is a log kept between 1865 and 1868 by a Freedmen’s Bureau employee at his Texas office. Although he was unable to do anything about the outrageous way former slaves were treated, he did keep a record of what he was told.

Three years after the war had officially ended, he wrote in an entry that a woman was “whipped 100 lashes because she hoed up a cotton stalk” and another woman on the same day reported she was, “whipped twice about 100 lashes altogether because he didn’t think she hoed fast enough.” A man was treated even worse. He said he was “whipped and threatened to be killed because he would not make a contract or leave
without getting his paycheck.”

When the show closes on April 17, both parts will travel together to museums where there is enough space for the 6,000 square-foot show .to be seen at one time. The Archives had to divide it in two because of space restrictions.

By Linda Wheeler  | November 5, 2010; 12:46 PM ET
Categories:  News  
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Can't wait to see the second half of the exhibit, and the Emancipation Proclamation! Also, are you still accepting questions for the expert panel? I'd love to see their answers to things like:
-What do you consider the most interesting or personally compelling facet/event/person of the war?
-Can you pick two people - one Union and one Confederate - and explain why understanding them is key to understanding the war or an important aspect of the war (demerits if you choose Lincoln!)?

Posted by: ericaryan | November 6, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to encourage everyone to visit the new exhibition Binding Wounds,Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine now on display through February 28,2011 at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. The exhibition explores the role of African American surgeons and nurses who served during the war and how their service challenged the prescribed notions of race and gender. The exhibition features rare and never-before-seen documents from the National Archives and Howard University including Alexander T. Augusta's letter to President Abraham Lincoln requesting a position as surgeon; Charlotte Forten's journal describing her time as a nurse to wounded black soldiers; and a newly dicovered photograph of William P. Powell, Jr, black surgeon at Contraband Hospital in Washington, D.C. For more informatio,please call 301-435-5241.

Posted by: Goofy3000 | November 9, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

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