Library Search Strategies
Click on one of these common searches for more detailed information:
The Library Catalog (formerly MadCat), provides the most comprehensive method for accessing information about Library holdings. Consult the Library Catalog to identify collections relevant to your research. If you are not familiar with this catalog, take a moment to review instructions included on the Library Catalog home page.
To find general histories and government documents use a "guided search" in the Library Catalog. Combine the phrase Civil War with words or phrases such as battle, campaign, or location name, prisons, prisoners and , naval operations. For instructions on combining research terms in a "guided search," take a moment to review instructions available on the Library Catalog home page.
The Library's holdings are so extensive that some searches may produce a pool of results too large to review. When this happens, add a second or third term or phrase to your initial search as a way to produce more limited results. For similar reasons, no one search will be comprehensive. Try variations on your initial search to see additional results.
The series entitled The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies contains the formal reports, both Union and Confederate, of all military operations, with the correspondence, order and returns. In this series, the reports are arranged in chronological order by campaign and theater of operation. This series is available at the Society Library, in both paper form and on CD-ROM. A searchable digital version is available online via Cornell University's Making of America at http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/browse.monographs/waro.html
Library Search Strategies - People
Researchers interested in finding published material about individuals will want to conduct a Library Catalog "guided search." For instructions on using this search feature, take a moment to review instructions available on the Library Catalog home page. For autobiographies, memoirs, biographies, and documentary editions focused on a particular individual, search on the person's name.
If the individual was a member of a particular military unit or participated in a major battle or event, locating information about that unit or event may also provide information about the individual being researched. If the individual you are studying fought in a Wisconsin regiment, but you do not know the regiment, consult the Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers.
The Library's holdings are so extensive that some searches may produce a pool of results too large to review. This will be particularly true for major figures such as Abraham Lincoln and major events such as the battle of Gettysburg. When this happens, add a second or third term (such as military unit, or combining a personal name with a place or event) to your "guided search" as a way to limit the results to more manageable proportions.
The Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles, an online resource, may also provide information about individuals who fought in the Civil War.
Library Search Strategies - Military Units
Researchers interested in finding published material about military units will want to conduct a Library Catalog "guided search" using the regiment's name and number in the following format: Wisconsin infantry regiment 23 rd or Wisconsin cavalry regiment 2 nd . For instructions on using this search feature, take a moment to review instructions available on the Library Catalog home page.
Information about military units may also be located by conducting a "guided search" on a combination of terms reflecting jurisdiction or line of authority. Combine the terms Civil War, Wisconsin, and adjutant general to retrieve information about or created by the adjutant general's office, in most northern states the governing official for volunteer units. Similarly if you are researching uniforms and equipment used by Wisconsin units, combine the terms Civil War, Wisconsin, and quartermaster. If your interest is outside of Wisconsin, enter the appropriate state for the regiment you are studying.
Library Search Strategies - Battles and Events
Researchers interested in finding published material about battles and events will want to conduct a Library Catalog "guided search." For instructions on using this search feature, take a moment to review instructions available on the Library Catalog home page.
To study individual battles or events, combine the term Civil War with the commonly used name of the battle, place or event. If you do not include Civil War in your search you will get unrelated materials. For example, a search on Vicksburg alone will not only provide information on our holdings about the siege of Vicksburg, but also about Vicksburg, Michigan. No single search is likely to be comprehensive. You may also want to search by military units that may have been involved in a particular campaign, battle, or engagement. To locate information about the home front, it is recommended that you combine the terms Civil War and social aspects .
How to Access Library Resources
If you plan to visit the Library, search the Library Catalog for the call numbers and locations of collections that interest you.
If you cannot visit the Library, the material you wish to use may be available through Interlibrary Loan .
If the material is not available for loan or you would like our Reference Staff to locate and photocopy pages from any resource in our collection, please visit Requesting Research Assistance for an explanation of charges before you place any order.