Civil War Documents Go Digital

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) -- Making the past a part of the present, as a project to scan Civil War-era letters is uncovering treasures and unlocking pieces of history.

"Boston. February 11, 1860. Dear Sir: Your father has just put into my hand your kind letter of the 9th, and I hasten to say that I am very much obliged to you for all the trouble you have taken to arrange a lecture for me at your place on the great question of the age."

That is a segment from a letter from the pen of William Lloyd Garrison, a leading abolitionist and publisher of an anti-slavery newspaper.

More than 150 years later, it's in the hands of David Kane.

"The Civil War hadn't even started yet, and he was already writing about his thoughts about slavery and such subjects," said Kane.

A friend gave the letter to Kane and now he's making sure it'll survive long past its current owner.

"It's just nice to hold such a historical artifact. We all know what happened a few years later - or a year later. To know this part of the history that led up to that is pretty amazing," said Kane.

Friday, the Civil War 150 Legacy Project was in Staunton, scanning letters and diaries to make the past a part of the present for the Library of Virginia.

Archivists are traveling across the state to preserve these pieces of the past.

"We want to show what life was like for everybody. Not just the soldier, but for women, for African Americans, what was life like at home," said Renee Savits with the Library of Virginia.

With every piece of paper another peek at the past.

Savits said they've already scanned about 32,000 images for the project. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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