The Manuscript Division is pleased to announce that the Donald Benham Civil War Collection at the Library of Congress is now available online. This 300-item collection consists of correspondence, financial and legal records, military orders and records, speeches, and miscellaneous items comprising Civil War material amassed by collector Donald Benham.
The collection can be accessed in several ways:
- Through an online presentation (https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/collmss.ms000098) that includes featured items displayed in a slide carousel of images that suggest the range of materials available in the collection.
- Through the HTML version of the finding aid (http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/eadmss.ms010307); click on the “digital content available” hyperlinks in the Contents List section of the guide. A new window will open containing the object record for that material. Click on the document image in the center to open the viewer that provides access to the content.
- Through the PDF version of the finding aid (http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/eadmss.ms010307.3); click on the “digital content available” hyperlinks in the Container List section of the guide. Clicking on the hyperlink will forward that page to the object record for the material. Depending on your internet browser, hitting the “back” arrow may return you to the start of the PDF, rather than to your last location in the guide.
If you anticipate needing to toggle back and forth between the finding aid and object records, then the HTML version will be easier to use as object records are opened automatically in a new window. If using the PDF version of the finding aid, right clicking on the “digital content available” link will allow you to manually open a new tab in which to access the material without losing your place in the finding aid on the first tab.
Please note that this collection is not indexed to the level of individual documents, and that the collection is presented at the level of description found in the finding aid (from which the metadata in the online collection is derived). Keyword searching the collection will not return results for individual items; it will only search the level of description available in the container listing of the collection finding aid. The best way to approach searching the Manuscript Division’s online collections is to pretend that you are in the Manuscript Reading Room and are examining the microfilm reels/containers most appropriate to your research. This may only involve searching through a single folder, or it may require you to scan through a microfilm reel’s worth of material.
Feel free to contact the Manuscript Reading Room if you need any assistance in navigating the site, as the new online template looks and operates differently than the retired American Memory platforms with which many people were familiar. To find a list of the Manuscript Division’s other online collections, please visit https://www.loc.gov/rr/mss/ammem.html for links and more information.