National Archives And Unveil New Civil War Digital Records Collection
Press Release · Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Filmmaker Ken Burns Reveals His Own Family Civil War Discovery at April 6 Press Preview

Contact Information

NARA Public Affairs Staff
202-357-5300 Susan Roth

WHAT:  In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the National Archives and will host a special press-only announcement and preview of online Civil War records that will be made available for the first time outside of the National Archives. The newly digitized records will be made available to members on April 6, 2011, and will be free to the general public for one week beginning on April 7.

A goal of the National Archives is to migrate online as many of its extensive Civil War holdings as possible. On April 6, will publish the first in a series of Civil War records that have been digitized from original paper National Archives records. The new Civil War collection is highlighted by the Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865. These nearly 275,000 records are among the most heavily-used records for research in the National Archives Civil War holdings and were previously only available by request in original form at the research center. The public will now be able to easily access these records online without having to travel to Washington, DC.

April 12, 2011, is the 150th Anniversary of the battle of Fort Sumter in 1861, marking the start of the American Civil War in Charleston, SC.

WHO:  National Archives Director of Access Programs Susan Cummings Executive Vice President Josh Hanna

Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns will recount a significant Civil War-era family discovery he made from using National Archives Civil War records and shares his insightful perspective to this 150th anniversary of the War Between the States. Burns’s award-winning film, THE CIVIL WAR, will be re-broadcast on PBS the week of April 3.

TV Journalist and author Cheryl Wills will speak about the impact of these records for her critically acclaimed book, “Die Free” which tells the story of her great-great-great grandfather, Sandy Wills, who escaped slavery to fight as a member of the United States Colored Troops.

WHEN:  11:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 6, 2011

WHERE:  Jefferson Conference Room, National Archives Building, Constitution Avenue and 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC. Please use Special Events Entrance

Metro: Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter station

Please Note That No Additional Lights Will Be Permitted


As the Civil War dragged toward its third year, President Lincoln signed the Enrollment Act in March 1863 to supply more troops to the Union army. The law subjected men ages 20-45 to a draft. Enrollment began shortly thereafter, with men's names recorded on consolidated lists from which draftees would be selected. In the end, bounties for enlistment offered by federal, state, and local governments ensured that most Union troops were volunteers, but the consolidated lists for 27 states filled more than 600 registers-now digitally indexed and available at

National Archives and

For more than a decade, the National Archives and [] have collaborated to make important historical records available to the public, demonstrating their commitment to preserving America’s heritage. The growing collection of National Archives records on includes more than 750 million names and 70 million images in census, immigration and military records, among many others.

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Press Contacts:
National Archives Public Affairs staff: (202) 357-5300 Susan Roth: 301-530-3539


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