Last Wednesday, the National Park Service announced the launch of its new Civil War website, and the stories, timelines, featured places, and educational resources now available there. We noted the new site in last week’s “What We’re Reading” post, and today we take a closer look at all it offers.
The National Park Service’s mission is to conserve and maintain natural and historic sites, like Civil War battlefields, and provide history education to the visitors who stop by. “More than a quarter of all national parks preserve Civil War sites or tell stories related to the war,” explained NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis in last Wednesday’s press release. This new website will help visitors plan their trips and learn more about the Civil War before they arrive at their destination.
The Places section of the site lists over 50 Civil War locations. Each place page includes a photo of the site, a brief description, and links to more information. Some of the included places are important sites within a larger historic location. For instance, Devil’s Den in Gettysburg, or Grant’s Last Line at Shiloh Battlefield.
Website visitors can also find Civil War destinations through an interactive map. On the map, click through the different sites, or plug in your zip code to find Civil War locations in your area.
A detailed timeline on the site places Civil War events in chronological order, with each event linked to a broader description at the bottom of the page. The timeline also incorporates an interactive map and a search function that allows users to find keywords or chose events by topic, like “Causes,” “Industry and Economics,” and “Reconstruction.”
The People section of the site groups Civil War figures into politicians, military, activists, spies, religious figures, and civilians. Read short biographies of these individuals and learn what historic sites they’re affiliated with. This section also links up to the Soldiers and Sailors Database, which offers access to 6.3 million records on individuals in the military who were involved in the Civil War. Search by name, state, rank, regiment, and through a number of other categories.
Civil War Reporter
What was happening today 150 years ago during the Civil War? The National Park Service has created the Civil War Reporter Twitter account to give you the scoop. For example, on April 6th the reporter tweeted: “The cause of the high water on the Warwick River is discovered: the Confederates have constructed 5 fortified dams along its course.”
Teachers have their own section on the new Civil War site, where they can find links to online resources, curriculum materials, and professional development opportunities. Teachers can incorporate multimedia into a lesson plan with a podcast on the Confederate Breakout Attempt, video of battle reenactments, or a virtual tour of the Clara Barton National Historic Site. One of the many sets of lesson plans on the site is a collection of curricula on Teaching with Historic Places.
The launch of this website coincides with a sleek redesign of the overall National Park Service website, which now features a cleaner interface, more images, and easier navigation.