National Archives Groundbreaking Civil War Exhibition to Travel
Press Release · Thursday, April 28, 2011

Washington, DC

"Discovering the Civil War" to launch multi-city national tour summer 2011

This summer, the highly acclaimed National Archives Discovering the Civil War exhibition that premiered in Washington, DC, will embark upon a major, multi-city national tour starting with the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Additional stops include the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Houston, Texas, and the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.

The groundbreaking exhibit Discovering the Civil War peels back 150 years of accumulated analysis, interpretation, and opinion to take a fresh look at the Civil War through little-known stories, seldom-seen documents, and unusual perspectives. Discovering the Civil War presents the most extensive display ever assembled from the incomparable Civil War collection of the National Archives. “We are pleased to share this important and historic exhibition more broadly,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “The Henry Ford, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Tennessee State Museum venues will enable many more thousands of people to share the discoveries about the Civil War revealed in the records of the National Archives.”

The exhibition will include a rare showing of the original Emancipation Proclamation at each site, limited to 3-days or 36 hours to protect this fragile but treasured document. Each venue will also present related special events and programming. The exhibition was created by the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives.

Discovering the Civil War travelling exhibit venues:

The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan
20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, MI 48124-5029
May 21 - September 5, 2011
Special display of the original Emancipation Proclamation, June 20-22, 2011
The Henry Ford, located in Dearborn, Michigan, is known as the nation's "largest indoor-outdoor history museum " complex, and attracts over 1.6 million visitors a year. Named for its founder, the automobile industrialist Henry Ford, and based on his desire to preserve items of historical significance, the museum began with Ford's personal collection of historic objects. The 12-acre complex now houses an array of famous homes, machinery, exhibits, and Americana, including the chair President Abraham Lincoln sat in during the production of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre when he was assassinated on April 14, 1865.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston, Texas
5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas, 77030
October 14, 2011 – April 29, 2012
Established in 1909, the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Texas is an expansive, multi-story science center that welcomes over two million visitors a year to experience the natural world through exceptional permanent galleries as well as unparalleled world premiere exhibitions. In addition to Discovering the Civil War, other museum special exhibitions include Terra Cotta Warriors and the upcoming Treasures from the Hermitage: Russia’s Crown Jewels.

Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, Tennessee
505 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN 37243-1120
February 12-September 2, 2013
Founded in 1937, the Tennessee State Museum starts from pre-colonization and goes through the 20th century, with a special focus on the American Civil War, the Frontier, and the Age of Jackson. The museum's collection of uniforms, weapons, and battle flags from the Civil War is one of the largest in the nation. The museum also has a permanent military exhibition describing the country's military conflicts from the early battles of the Spanish-American War through World War II.

About the Exhibition

Discovering the Civil War offers visitors the chance to join researchers in unlocking secrets, solving mysteries, and uncovering unexpected events in Civil War records of the National Archives. The exhibition features letters, diaries, photos, maps, petitions, receipts, patents, amendments, and proclamations.

This exhibition is unconventional in every way. It combines these great treasures with engaging touch-screen interactives incorporating social media tools in a physical environment inspired by 21st Century research rooms. Rather than trying to recreate 1860, these interactives let visitors see the war through the lens of 2010 technology. Passing over the traditional chronological approach, the exhibition is arranged by such themes as, “Spies and Conspiracies,” “Prisoners and Casualties,” “Emancipation,” “Global War,” and “Raising Armies.”

Discovering the Civil War marks the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. In this groundbreaking exhibit, visitors will discover:

  • The original Louisiana ordinance of secession;
  • A computer interactive based on a “substitute book” listing names and information on men who were paid $300 to replace draftees;
  • Abraham Lincoln’s “substitute” in the Union Army;
  • How Lincoln stopped the execution of a Confederate major;
  • A message from the governor of North Carolina rejecting Lincoln’s call for troops;
  • The Chinese connection to the Civil War;
  • Similarities of the Constitution of the Confederacy and the U.S. Constitution;
  • Original pension records from a Michigan woman who served in the Union Army as Frank Thompson;
  • That two 13th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were proposed by Congress;
  • How a congressional investigation into war profiteering transformed the meaning of the word “shoddy;”
  • Film of the 75th reunion of the Battle of Gettysburg;
  • Original Freedmen’s Bureau records documenting murders and outrages committed against African Americans; and
  • Innovative wartime patents including a multipurpose device that could serve as a tent, knapsack or blanket.

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See the online exhibit []. For more information on Discovering the Civil War, or to obtain images of items included in the exhibition, call the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

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