Michigan in the Civil War: A Guide to the Resources in the Bentley Historical Library

Gettysburg, July 3, 1863

"Gettysburg, July 3, 1863," from Guernsey,
Alfred H. Harper's Pictorial History of the
Civil War. Chicago, 1868.

The Bentley Library has more than four hundred collections pertaining to the participation of Michigan men and military units in the Civil War. Collections range in size from a single letter or diary fragment up to many folders of letters home, volumes of diaries or notebooks, or reminiscences. These collections vary in degree of literacy, legibility, and content. Diary entries might be brief comments about daily weather conditions or detailed descriptions of camp life and battles participated in. The collections of letters are strongest for what was going on the war front with less information about activities of those who remained behind. Many collections also include photographs as well as army orders and other documents.

This is a revised version of a printed guide to the library's Civil War holdings compiled between 1959 and 1977 by Ida Brown entitled Michigan Men in the Civil War. Brown's work has been updated to include information about collections received by the library since 1977 and reorganized to reflect the library's present collection titles.

Collections have been divided into two groups, Military, which includes letters, diaries, and reminiscences of soldiers, and Civilian, which includes papers of nurses, recruiters, and other civilians directly affected by the war. The library includes many other collections of papers created during the Civil War years, which may include mention of war activities but were not created by direct participants in the war. These collections are briefly listed in a separate section.

The military and civilian collections have been indexed by the names of the persons writing the letters, diaries, and other materials. The military collections have also been indexed by regiment and by the most significant battles documented in the papers. There is also an index to portraits included in this guide.

A guide to the location of each numbered reference in Brown's original guide is included, as is a brief description of Brown's card index, which is available only in the library.