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"The Civil War Still Matters" - new issue of the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries

October 7, 2014
The front cover of the special 2014 issue of the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries.

The front cover of the special 2014 issue of the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries.

The Rutgers University Libraries are pleased to announce the publication of a special issue of the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries - “The Civil War Still Matters: Documenting New Jersey’s Experience in America’s Most Destructive War."

The Libraries have taken the lead at the university in marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War by sponsoring a ten month exhibition in the 2012/2013 academic year in Special Collections and University Archives and a corresponding series of scholarly talks on the theme “Struggle Without End: New Jersey and the Civil War.” Building on the positive response to these activities and the impressive scholarship of the speakers, the Libraries have broadened the conversation with this special issue of the Journal.

Preeminent Civil War historian James M. McPherson, emeritus professor at Princeton University, contributed a version of the lecture he delivered in September 2012 on the  topic that gave the issue its name “Why the Civil War Still Matters.” He argues that the issues that prompted the schism – race, citizenship, liberty, regional differences, and the dichotomies of federal versus state rights and powers – continue to charge our political discourse.

Seton Hall University Professor Larry A. Greene surveys contemporary films about slavery such as Django Unchained and 12 Years a Slave, and especially Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, and contrasts their representation of the key issues and characters with the historical record. He uses these recent film treatments to reflect on the political history of the war in New Jersey focusing on the African American experience.

Historian Katherine Fleming takes a close look at “Civil War Soldiers as Victims of Psychological Trauma.” She suggests that while the medical identification of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurred many decades after the Civil War, physicians in the mid-nineteenth century did have an understanding of the psychological effects of battlefield distress. Drawing on little-used records from a New Jersey medical facility of the era, she finds evidence that doctors took note of the lingering mental debilitation that the fighting had on certain soldiers.

Historian Steven D. Glazer offers a thorough review of the service of Rutgers alumni in the Civil War and finds that the numbers exceed previous estimates. He also takes a closer look at the lives of a few of the Rutgers Civil War veterans.

The Journal also contains two articles by Special Collections archivist and exhibitions head Fernanda Perrone, who served as guest editor of this special issue. In one, she highlights the Civil War materials related to New Jersey from Rutgers’ Special Collections and University Archives. She also reviews the recently acquired collection of Israel Silvers, a Lambertville schoolmaster and U.S. Christian Commission Delegate from New Jersey, who provided religious services and material assistance to soldiers at Gettysburg and in Virginia.

This special 2014 issue of the Journal may be viewed in its entirety online, at http://jrul.libraries.rutgers.edu/index.php/jrul
A limited number of print copies are available as well. To request one of the print copies, please send an email to Fernanda Perrone at hperrone@rulmail.rutgers.edu