Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

The Civil War, 1861-1865

Letters and documents recount the secession crisis and the American Civil War through general orders, orderly books, recruitment broadsides, maps, photographs, newspapers, and the journals, official dispatches, and personal letters of military commanders, politicians, soldiers, and civilians. This archive includes letters and diaries written by statesmen, soldiers, and civilians that provide unique perspectives on virtually every aspect of the Civil War including battles, life on the home front, Lee’s surrender, Lincoln’s assassination, and prisoner-of-war experiences. Thousands of soldiers’ letters and diaries, most of them unpublished, capture the experience of the common soldier and his family in great detail.

Selected Searches in the Collection's Catalog