The Civil War in High Resolution

Newberry Partners with Terra Foundation on “The Civil War in Art” Website

"The Myriopticon: Historic Panorama: The Rebellion," a toy theater containing 22 colored illustrations of the U.S. Civil War and one of the first products created by American manufacturer Milton Bradley
"The Myriopticon: Historic Panorama: The Rebellion," a toy theater containing 22 colored illustrations of the U.S. Civil War and one of the first products created by American manufacturer Milton Bradley
April 2012

The Newberry is pleased to be one of the collaborating cultural institutions on a new website: “The Civil War in Art: Teaching and Learning Through Chicago Collections.” An educational tool designed primarily for students and teachers in grades 6 – 12, the site features 128 high-resolution images from the Terra Foundation for American Art and its partners: the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago History Museum, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Public Schools, DuSable Museum of African American History, and the Newberry’s Professional Development Programs for Teachers.

“This institutional cooperation has generated a valuable resource for learning about the Civil War, as well as a blueprint for future educational projects of similar ambition,” says Daniel Greene, the Newberry’s Vice President for Research and Academic Programs.

“The Civil War in Art” officially launched on April 12, the 151st anniversary of the firing on Ft. Sumter, and covers a wide range of subjects, including causes of the war, the military experience, the Northern home front, emancipation and the meaning of freedom, Abraham Lincoln, and the memorialization of the war. Historical essays accompany the stunning high-resolution images, including 25 images of Newberry collection items. Created in conjunction with teachers, historians, and museum and library professionals, the website showcases photographs describing the war experience, paintings that celebrate the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, prints that show how women aided the war effort, and sculpture memorializing Civil War heroes in Chicago parks.

The site is designed to engage users in the mode of expression that most powerfully—and often unnoticeably—shapes our perception of major events: art. Important questions about the visual culture of the Civil War era are addressed: how did Americans learn about the Civil War through art, and how can we learn about the war today? How have artists represented the end of slavery and the impact of freedom? The site is organized by theme, and includes a pop-up glossary and lesson plans developed by Chicago area teachers.

Since 1887, the Newberry has been preserving, adding to, and making known in diverse ways a remarkable cultural heritage that is readily available to the public. The Newberry’s collection of books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and other materials relates to the humanities – disciplines that pose fundamental questions about human beings and their lives, their social, cultural, and moral existence across time, their ongoing pursuit of meaning. The Newberry’s programs – which include fellowships, adult seminars, disciplinary conferences, semester-long undergraduate seminars, ongoing seminars for professional scholars, professional development activities for teachers, summer institutes for college faculty, consortia of universities in North America and Europe – all seek to make our collections, our staff’s expertise, and the special knowledge of outside experts available for those who want to read, listen, and learn.