I was excited to learn of The Lincoln Archives Digital Project, which is busily digitizing all federal records created during Abraham Lincoln's administration that are housed within the National Archives. This is the first digital project to scan the entire contents of a president's administration. Once completed, the approximately 14 million executive, legislative, judicial and military records housed within the National Archives, including all documents, maps, and photographs, which encompass the Civil War era 1861-1865, will be available online, in color, transcribed and fully searchable to the global community.
This project will provide a full inventory of the holdings of the National Archives, which are within the scope of the project beginning after the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, ending on April 15, 1865, with his assassination. The exceptions are all records that are involved with the assassination.
There will be free access to these records through Memorial Day of 2012. The website is located at http://www.lincolnarchives.us/; there is also a blog located at www.lincolnarchivesdigitalproject.wordpress.com.
A quick click around the website shows detailed links to newspapers, photographs, maps and political cartoons to name a few features. For the teachers out there, or historians who give presentations, there are lesson plans too.
You can do a search to locate records, and there is an online site map that has an index of topics with links directly to the records. Scans of original handwritten letters and other documents are easy to read, and contain information from the Archives that has never been available online before. They include for example, handwritten orders from Auburn NY resident and Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William H. Seward, exempting specific aliens from military service.
All these features will grow over time as items are transcribed, and volunteers are always welcome to assist with the project. As we celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War and Lincoln’s administration, it would be an interesting project to participate in. The website is well worth a visit if you have an interest in Civil War information.