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The Civil War primary source project.
Last Updated: Sep 11, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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The Worlds of the North and the South

Differences between the North and the South created a rift that led to the Civil War and left deep scars that Reconstruction would fail to erase.

The North

The Industrial Revolution greatly affected the economy of the North. Inventions and improved methods of transportation supported a factory system that produced goods more quickly and cheaply. Increasing numbers of people flocked to towns and cities, seeking jobs in factories.

The South

Unlike the North, the South depended mainly on one crop and the slave system for economic growth. Other industries and cash crops were secondary to the production of cotton, which left the South dependent on the North and Europe for finished goods. The economy of the South was based on the enslavement of African Americans. It also created three classes of white southerners.

Essential Questions: Identify how the developing "differences" between the North and the South resulted in a divided nation, a Nation Torn Apart. How did these differences lead to the Civil War? What do you believe was the biggest cause of the war and what do you believe was the most important end result of the war?

Project Options:

  • Research pictures (photographs and / or paintings), graphs, and charts of the North and South in the mid 1800s and during the Civil War. Prepare and create a pamphlet / brochure for an exhibit. Include information about each picture, graph, or chart and explain how it adds to your understanding of life in the North and South before and during the war.
  • Create a pamphlet or brochure that supports your answers to the Essential Questions.

    Citation and Plagiarism Resources on the Internet



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    Online Databases

    • ABC-CLIO
      A collection of databases dealing with all aspects of social studies including US and world history, government, and geography. Also includes how others lived their daily lives throughout history.
    • Biography in Context
      Contains articles from encyclopedias, books, and other reference sources on thousands of significant and lesser-known individuals. Sources include: Contemporary Authors, Encyclopedia of World Biography, Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Contemporary Musicians, Historic World Leaders, Notable Twentieth-Century Scientists, Contemporary Black Biography, Religious Leaders of America, and the International Dictionary of Art and Artists.
    • Discovering Collection
      Searches reference books for geography & cultures, science, history, literature, current biographies, authors, & the like. Also has a multimedia section with audio, video, & still images, as well as a searchable timeline feature.
    • EbscoHost (Student Resource Center)
      Contains ALL of EbscoHost's full text articles from popular magazines, research periodicals, national newspapers, thousands of biographies, millions of images, and over 100,000 primary source documents.


    • Introduction to letter writing in the Civil War
      This site, from the National Postal Museum, provides a comprehensive introduction to letter writing during the Civil War.
    • Overview of the Civil War (1860-1865)
      A brief overview of the time period that includes links to further reading.
    • Literature of the Civil War
      This web site introduces 15 stories of the Civil War on different topics, including women as main characters, children in the Civil War, divided family loyalties, and more. All of the stories are situated in their historical context.
    • Quick Overview of the Civil War
      Scroll down to find information on the Civil War (#34-35). Topics include strengths and weaknesses of the North and South, overview of major battles, and the homefronts on both sides.
    • Library of Congress' Civil War resources
      This link takes you to the Library of Congress' resource page on the Civil War.
    • Soldiers' Letters Home
      This page features a wealth of letters soldiers sent home from the frontlines.
    • New York Historical Society's Civil War Archival Collection
      This collection not only has letters of soldiers and civilians during the Civil War, but it also features digital copies of the actual letters. Click on the search button, and type in "letter" to see all the letters available.
    • Soldiers' Love Letters to Wives or Sweethearts
      This site form Virginia Tech features love letters from soldiers to their wives or sweethearts in both text and the original images.
    • Letters from the Civil War
      This site form the University of Washington features several letters or diaries written by soldiers. A summary of the letter is included, but not the actual text of the letter. You will need to click on the link to see the digital image of the letter.
    • Civil War Letters form the Southern Historical Collection
      Letters written by soldiers to loved ones at home, from the University of North Carolina's Southern Historical Collection.
    • Another site with Letters of the Civil War
      Notre Dame's rare books collection has several letters available for you to read and look at.
    • Digital Collection of Photographs of the Civil War
      Civil War photographs, manuscripts, and imprints provide a sample of the photographs, images, albums, and more, related to the Civil War in the Southern Methodist University's collection. These items illustrate both the Confederate and Union sides of the war.
    • Smithsonian Institute's Civil War Collections
      A great site to see not only primary sources like photographs but also artifacts such as uniforms, weapons, medals, envelopes and posters.
    • Gardner's Images of the Civil War
      Alexander Gardner was one of the most famous CIvil War photographers. He took a large number of photos. On this site of Cornell University 30 of his photos are displayed, with an explanation for each.
    • Gilmer's Collection of Maps
      The University of North Carolina owns a large collection of maps by Jeremy Francis Gilmer (1839-1861), a United States Army Engineer and Confederate Chief of Engineers. These maps cover the Confederacy of States.
    • The Civil War and American Art
      The Smithsonian American Art Museum held an exhibit on paintings of the Civil War. This slideshow displays 75 of them.
    • Civil War Information
      A wealth of information, including reports by generals, letters, photographs, and charts on the number of injured and deaths. Scroll down on the right for the death reports.

    The Civil War


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