• Database Access and Searching: American Civil War: Letters and Diaries

    Learn about the databases available through LWC and search strategies to get the most and best information from them!

    Access *Civil War Letters*

    This collection contains 2,009 authors and approximately 100,000 pages of diaries, letters and memoirs. Particular care has been taken to index this material so it can be searched more thoroughly than ever. Each source has been carefully chosen using leading bibliographies. The product includes 4,000 pages of previously unpublished manuscripts such as the letters of Amos Wood and his wife and the diary of Maryland Planter William Claytor. The collection also includes biographies, an extensive bibliography of the sources in the database, and material licensed from The Civil War Day-by-Day by E.B. Long.

    From Alexander Street, A ProQuest Company. Retrieved August 5, 2021 from (https://search.alexanderstreet.com/cwld).

    Click the image below to be directed towards the database.

    Search tips

    The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries provides sophisticated searching across large numbers of primary documents, as well as table of contents access to a wide array of primary sources. It also provides a database of battles and events.

    For novices who wish to get quick access to key documents, we recommend using the Tables of Contents and the Simple Search tools.

    For scholars who wish to conduct in-depth searches we recommend using the Advanced SearchMemoirs SearchDiaries Search, and Letters Search tools.

    There are three basic ways to use the database.

    • Browse Tables -- Use these to see what's contained in the database. This is the best way to check whether an author, a source, a date is included. It's also the best way to examine what personal or historical events are in the database. Simply click on the appropriate browse table button on the navigation bar.
    • Find Tools -- The "FIND" tools let you search for specific authors or specific works in the database. Find Authors returns a list of all authors that match your specific criteria. Find Sources returns a list of all sources (works and manuscripts) in the database. The difference between the "FIND" tools and the "SEARCH" tools (explained next) is in the results they give. The "FIND" tools do not return documents, but rather lists of sources and authors. Note the difference between a source (a collection of documents) and the documents themselves (items within a source).
    • Search Tools -- The "SEARCH" tools let you analyze words and documents that meet your search criteria. The "SEARCH" tools return documents or bibliographic citations or both. In this database a document is defined as a month of diary entries, or a letter, or editorial matter.


    The Search tools are divided into five separate categories, all of which search the texts in the database and return documents:

    • Simple Search - for novice users or those wishing to do a quick search. It provides basic searching
    • Diaries Search - a moderate number of fields, restricted to diaries
    • Memoirs Search - a moderate number of fields, restricted to memoirs
    • Letter Search - specific field searching for letters only
    • Advanced Search - all fields, except specific letter fields