Voices of the Civil War at the Harold B. Lee Library


The year was 1861 in Washington, D.C. President Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election and states rapidly succeeded from the Union. The nation was unable to compromise and the deadliest war in American history began. Now, to commemorate more than 150 years since the start of the Civil War, the Harold B. Lee Library is installing a new exhibit titled “Voices of the Civil War: Evidence and Artifacts.”

With more than 70 different letters, weapons, photographs and other artifacts, the new library exhibit captures the conditions of the Civil War. Artifacts, such as a pardon signed by Abraham Lincoln, the hand-written film score from “Gone With the Wind” and more than 800 personal letters from soldiers to loved ones, provide an inside look into the Civil War experience.

“We’re telling the story of what these voices are really still saying today,” said Eric Howard, exhibits manager for the Harold B. Lee Library. “When you read some of the stories behind these very personal objects and artifacts, it makes it come to life and it’s really exciting.”

[media-credit name=”Mark Pollei” align=”alignright” width=”300″]A Civil War medal is part of the new exhibit in the Harold B. Lee Library.[/media-credit]
A Civil War medal is part of the new exhibit in the Harold B. Lee Library.
Even though the war happened more than 150 years ago, the effects are still being felt today and no one should forget how it changed our nation.

“We want students to come and experience a connection with that period of time,” said Scott Duvall, assistant director of the Harold B. Lee Library. “The point of this exhibit is that the Civil War still matters to us, it’s still important in our history.”

The official kick-off to the exhibit is Sept. 13 with speakers and a small reception. However, so the Lee Library can help to further the learning experience beyond campus, the exhibit opens early during Education Week.

“Education Week folks are busy going around to their classes and being excited about the things they can see here, well this is one of the exciting things they can see here,” said Howard.

Besides serving as a reminder of the past and how it influences the younger generation today, this exhibit allows students and campus visitors the opportunity to see some of the many artifacts BYU has in the Special Collections Department that otherwise go unseen.

“It’s a really positive effect that we have on the BYU student body just because it’s a way to expose students to the breadth of material that’s down here that is accessible to really anyone,” said Jeff Raines, an animations student currently working on the Lee Library exhibits.

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