If you are trying to make videos about your American Civil War ancestors, head over to the Dickinson College House Divided website. Dickinson encourages students to use images, audio, and music to create historical documentaries about the era from 1840-1880. Multiple contributors provide a collection of sites filled with articles, videos, and links to resources for public domain music, photographs, and historical documents. This is an especially valuable resource for teachers.
Going to the House Divided index at housedivided.dickinson.edu/sites/ is the best way to get an overview of what’s offered. Use this project index page to navigate through this deep, detailed look at the American Civil War era, its media, people and events.
The answers to the Frequently Asked Questions on the project index page could take me down a rabbit hole (happily) for years:
- Links and resources for public domain Civil War era music
(which helped me to find music for my video, “Civil War Story of William Hunter Davis“)
- Online sources for Civil War images (including, yee gods, the 6,000+ digitized photographs from the Matthew Brady collection on the U. S. National Archives site!)
- Downloadable sound effects, including cannon fire, troops marching and horse galloping
One treat I found on the website was an article “Where was William Lloyd Garrison” by Matthew Pinsker, examining an 1865 photograph that provides wonderfully detailed images of people in a crowd listening to a speech by Henry Ward Beecher. Pinsker identifies Union officer Robert Anderson and others in the photo and offers an updated identification of William Lloyd Garrison.
Okay, I confess, after mulling over Garrison’s image, I was equally intrigued by the details of the people in the crowd – distracted faces and relaxed body language you usually don’t see in portraits from that era, as well as the garments and hats.
If you find some images or audio you can use for your Civil War ancestor video story, add them to your Ancestor Story worksheets. You can download the worksheets for free here.
House Divided website, Dickinson College.
Flag Raising Ceremony at Fort Sumter, April 14 1865. Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs collection. www.loc.gov. Modified image accessed 30 October 2015 from http://housedivided.dickinson.edu/sites/blogdivided/