Civil War era records to be saved in Evansville

Local News

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – A link to America’s early and dark past is fading away in Evansville. Thousands of pages from the Civil War era are housed downtown at the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Coliseum.

The hundred-year-old records have been kept behind a glass door for decades. They are piled in no real order and some books are falling apart. Open one cover and you can smell the musty history inside.

Only now has the time been right to save them.

“There’s a lot in here that people don’t realize,” said Cristy Scott, Coliseum General Manager. “It’s just cool to go look at it.”

Scott looks over a collection of pictures she took of all the old documents from Evansville’s chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic. It’s similar to a Civil War veterans group.

“We’re being real careful,” she said.

Jennifer Greene, University of Southern Indiana Archivist, plans to save everything she can because the old documents have seen better days.

Temperature, humidity, and sunlight have taken its toll and some pages have turned to dust.

Greene and USI students will spend the next several years preserving and transcribing the documents. Eventually it will all be available online for research and saved forever.

“Who were the people? What citizens of Evansville were part of these groups?” Greene hopes to have some questions answered in the faded pages.

She believes the names, nearly forgotten to time, will live on.

“Were they activists? Were they humanitarians? Were they simply only concerned with their own story?”

The past opens doors to a better future. Without these lessons from way back when, who knows where we’d be?

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This story was originally published on August 28, 2019

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