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img_sherman_johnston Starting April 12, visitors to a new website can experience the Civil War’s personal side. Illustration from George W. Nichols’ “The Story of the Great March: From the Diary of a Staff Officer” (1865). (North Carolina Collection)

Learn about Civil War’s personal side daily on new site

What was happening in the South 150 years ago on any given date during the Civil War?

The website The Civil War Day-by-Day will do just that, every day for four years. Created by the University Library at UNC-Chapel Hill, the site will launch on April 12, the 150th anniversary of the war’s first military engagement, at Fort Sumter, S.C., in 1861.

The site will use Wilson Library’s rich collections of archival documents and published materials to present the war as it unfolded in the South. Diary entries, correspondence, news articles, maps, photographic portraits and images of artifacts will be among the items posted daily until April 9, 2015, the 150th anniversary of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender.

“We want to provide a sense of how the war was experienced by people living through it, who didn’t know how it would end, or what might happen to them and their loved ones,” said Biff Hollingsworth, archivist in the Southern Historical Collection and one of the site’s creators.

The site will invite readers to share their own interpretations of and reactions to the documents.

“It’s almost impossible to do serious research about the Civil War, and especially the Confederacy, without consulting materials in Wilson Library,” said Tim West, curator of the Southern Historical Collection and chair of the library’s Civil War 150th planning committee. “This anniversary encouraged us to find ways to make those materials more visible and accessible to the general public.”

Read more about the Southern Historical Collection and UNC Libraries.