Digital Projects

The Nau Civil War Center would like to acknowledge the support of the Jefferson Trust for its first two digital projects, Black Virginians in Blue and UVA Unionists. The grant was awarded in 2018 and helped the Center hire additional staff, conduct research, and build a website for the UVA Unionists project.

The Center is additionally grateful to Professor Worthy Martin and his staff at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities for all of their technical support, experience, advice, and expertise that will make our digital projects possible.

A number of students, both undergraduates and graduates, have assisted former Digitial Historian Will Kurtz in our research endeavors. In particular, Brian Neumann has served as lead editorial assistant since the summer of 2017, providing valuable assistance on "UVA Unionists." Frank Cirillo and Stephanie Lawton have also provided research and project assistance as editorial assistants during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Black Virginians in Blue

Almost 200,000 Black soldiers and sailors wore the Union blue during the Civil War.  This project will create a database of Black Virginians from Albemarle County, Virginia, who served in the Union army or navy. So far we have identified 257 men who enlisted and served in more than 80 different regiments and enlisted in more than 20 different states. At least 72 of these men died during the war, most from disease. At least 132 pensions were filed by these Black Albemarle veterans, and they were unusually successful in having their applications approved. With the help of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, we built a database of our soldiers and their families, which form the backbone of a website that launched in April 2021. Our project site contains a searchable database, primary sources, maps, soldier biographies, and essays examining our men before, during, and after the Civil War.


UVA Unionists

Related to Black Virginians in Blue, is our effort to identify UVA students who fought for the Union. So far we have found sixty-four students and five professors or instructors who, unlike the majority of their peers, remained loyal to the United States during the Civil War. Our search, led in large part by graduate student Brian Neumann and undergraduate Jane Diamond, has also uncovered hundreds of students who were not previously identified as Confederate soldiers or sailors. Taken together, our UVA Unionists and Black Virginians in Blue projects will tell a much more diverse story about the Civil War at UVA or in Albemarle County than has ever been told before. UVA Unionists launched in May 2021.

Letters Home

This project will showcase the John L. Nau III Civil War History Collection, which contains tens of thousands of letters, diaries, and photographs from the Civil War era. John L. Nau III (CLAS 68), a tireless champion of historic preservation, donated the collection to the University of Virginia in 2019. While researchers can view the collection in person at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at UVA, our digital project will help make the items accessible to scholars around the world. The project will feature transcriptions of every document in the collection, as well as photographs, maps, biographies, and contextual essays. Together, this material will capture the stories of the "ordinary" people--Union and Confederate, soldiers and civilians, men and women--who experienced America's deadliest conflict.