UVA doctoral graduate Eric C. Stoykovich’s article “Public Records in War: Toward an Archival History of the American Civil War” was published recently in The American Archivist, a publication of the Society of American Archivists.
The article argues that the Civil War challenged the sanctity of public records and harmed state and local archives through arson, enemy fire, looting, and theft. Responding to threats and actual destruction of archives by soldiers, elected officials and private citizens within both the Union and the Confederacy took steps to protect government documents and cultural heritage. The preservation of the nation’s archives during the Civil War is an important and under-examined story in the history of the war.
Dr. Stoykovich is currently a Project Archivist in Special Collections at the University of Maryland libraries. He helps increase the visibility and accessibility of archival collections which concern the state of Maryland, including notable manuscripts which reveal Maryland’s role as a border state during the Civil War. For example, a sketchbook of John Jacob Omenhausser, a Confederate prisoner held by Union troops at Point Lookout in Maryland, features over sixty watercolor drawings depicting the vagaries of prison life. It is available online. Other primary sources include the vivid record of family life and political sentiments of Maryland’s women, such as Madge Preston, wife of Baltimore lawyer William Preston. Born into a German Protestant family, Madge converted to Catholicism and wrote diaries and correspondence as she cheered the successes of the Confederacy from north of Baltimore. Her diaries are currently part of the crowdsourced transcription project Transcribe Maryland. Other unique Civil War Marylandia–the Leonidas Dodson Papers, the Brooke Family Papers, as well as printed pamphlets and broadsides–invite discovery through online research guides (http://www.lib.umd.edu/special/collections/maryland/home) or by in-person visits to Hornbake Library in College Park, Maryland.
A copy of Stoykovich’s article is obtainable for purchase as a stand-alone, by subscription to The American Archivist, or through membership to the Society of American Archivists.