The American Civil War

This research will support and guide the learner in the general study of the American Civil War and areas of interest that are related, such as commanders, military devices, and particular battles. Certain individuals and patterns in history affect and are affected by others in power. There is a large amount of information available on the top of the American Civil War. The purpose of this pathfinder is to help find the sources needed for a study on the American Civil War. Information that is researched can be evaluated and shared.

Iowa Core Curriculum Essential Concepts and Skills

Social Studies

•Understand historical patterns, periods of time, and the relationships among these elements
•Understand how and why people create, maintain, or change systems of power, authority, and governance
•Understand the role of individuals and groups within a society as promoters of change or the status quo


Information LIteracy Essential Concept
•Engage in the information literacy process: access, evaluate, and communicate information and ideas.


•Understand and represent simple probabilistic situations.

21st Century Skills

•Use critical thinking skills to conduct research, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate technological tools and resources.

Dewey Decimal Areas and Search Terms

Civil war 973.7

Civil war AND weapons 355.8

Civil war cooking AND recipes 641.5

Civil war AND music 782

Civil war AND poetry 811

Civil war AND (name) 920 or B




News & media



The Teacher Librarian!

Don't forget to ask the librarian
for help with your research.



•World Book Student Encyclopedia Online (World Book, Inc., accessed via AEA Online at Horn Elementary)

World Book Online
This serves as an overall source for general background and information about the Civil War and is a good place to start. Once you have narrowed your focus, it is helpful to come back here for more specific information, photos or maps.
Search: American civil war; links to specifics in article located on left side

•Encyclopedia Americana (Grolier, c2006 REF AE5 .E333)

This comprehensive print encyclopedia can be used for detailed information about large-scale terms, such as Civil war or specifics, such as the Battle of Gettysburg or General Lee. Use in the beginning and come back for specifics once you've narrowed your topic.
Search: Use the separate Index book. Civil war (skim bold headings to help narrow your search)

Subject Specific

•UXL Encyclopedia of U.S. History (UXL, 2008, YR 973 B)

This reference will give you a nice overview of the American Civil War and focus topics. Bold words in the articles means that you can find separate entries for them, which is a great cross-referencing tool.
Search: Civil war in index for overview; Focus topics in index.

•American Civil War Reference Library (Gale,c2000 YR 973 H)

Comprehensive 4-volume set includes timelines, illustrations, photos, people of interest and words to know, which is helpful. Organized in chronological order for the topic of Civil war, it also includes a bibliography at the end for further reading. This is best if you know your focus by now.
Search: Use index to look for focus topic, such as Battle of Gettysburg or trench warfare.

•Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History (ABC-CLIO, 2000, REF E468. E53)

This comprehensive resource is best when the focus is established. Not only does it include detailed specifics of the Civil War, but causes that led up to and consequences that were results. It includes many photos, essays, important documents, maps and biographical information about people on both sides.
Search: Focus top using the index, for example: Lee, Robert E.

•ABC-CLIO American History (ABC-CLIO, accessed via UNI Rod Library A-Z Databases)

ABC-CLIO American History
This encyclopedia is divded into eras of time, especially good for understanding what happened right before the Civil War and what happened as a result. Each page offers related entries, organized by type, such as images or individuals.
Search: From the home page, select the ERA of interest, starting with A War Begins. From there, select further information by narrowed topic, such as Bull Run.

•Dictionary of American History (Gale/Scribners, c2002, REF E174.D52)

This is very detailed and reads like an encyclopedia. It is organized by each individual word rather than an overall topic
Search: Use index or table of contents to access topic - civil war. Narrow interest by scanning bold headings.

•Encyclopedia of World Biography (Gale, 2009, REF CT 103 .E56)

The big names connected to the American Civil War are found here. A summary of the person is listed in the beginning of the article, which should be read first.
Search: Specific people by last names (i.e. Davis, Jefferson)


•Atlas of the Civil War (Oxford, c2004, Map REF .E468 W754 2004)

This subject-specific atlas shows maps and information of the Civil War. Also included were timelines of specific events.
Search: Use Table of Contents to narrow your search by time/place. Great source for specific battles and movements.


•Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson, accessed through a trial)

Biography Reference Bank
This database includes biographical information about people across disciplines including military leaders, and history-makers important to the Civil War research. Because it is comprehensive and includes past and present people, it is important to be precise in searching.
Search: Focus people by last name, first name (i.e. Grant, Ulysses S.)

News & media

Magazine article

Three Bloody Days in July, 1863 (William M., W. (n.d). Three bloody days in July 1863. USA Today, Retrieved from Middle Search Plus database.)

Three Bloody Days in July, 1863
This article was accessed through EBSCO Host, Middle Search Plus via AEA Online at Horn Elementary. The article generally describes the three-day battle and the amount of casualties.
Search: Use the Advanced Search and type American civil war AND Battle of Gettysburg. For a different focus, type American civil war and (another focus, such as generals). Use the limiter on the right side for full text.

Newspaper article

The Last of the Dead Buried--Condition of the Wounded--The Battle-field and Relic Gatherers (OUR GETTYSBURG CORRESPONDENCE :The Last of the Dead Buried--Condition of the Wounded--The Battle-field and Relic Gatherers.. (1863, July 15). New York Times (1857-1922),p. 2. Retrieved April 8, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 90522433).

The Last of the Dead Buried
This article was accessed through New York Times (1851-2006): ProQuest Historical Newspapers database found in UNI Databases A-Z. These articles are authentic and reflect news of the time of the event, rather than from an historical perspective.
Search: Using the Advance search: Type in American Civil War AND Battle of Gettysburg. Use the Date range Before 12/31/1865 and sort by Most Relevant first.


America at war: Charge and defeat (Discovery Education. (2004).America at War: Charge and Defeat [Full Video]. Available from )

America at war video
The battles of Gettysburg and Little Bighorn, were both fought on American soil with a large amount of casualties. By analyzing these statistics and the decisions made by commanders, one can see the probability of why things happened they way they did. This can be viewed in whole or segments.
Search: Civil war


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade & Reference Publishers ,c2006, Dictionary Stands -Ref Desk, 2nd fl stdy lng, 3rd fl by 1 elevator or multipr Rm)
This source is particularly helpful to explain unfamiliar terms when researching. It is also helpful when communicating with others as there is a pronunciation key on every page.
Search: Secession to understand the Southern states action; other terms as needed


Avi. (2007). Iron thunder : the battle between the Monitor & the Merrimac : a Civil War novel. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

Search: American Civil War