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Civil War Era Newsprints

Identifier: SC-MS-286

Scope and Contents

This collection primarily consists of illustrations from Civil War era newspapers including Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Harper’s Weekly, and Illustrated London News. Images printed in the newspapers are listed by the caption of the main illustration with page numbers and/or dates when known. Illustrations in this collection focus on the Civil War as it happened in coastal North Carolina, with many images from Cape Hatteras, New Bern, Fort Fisher, and Wilmington during the years 1861-1875.

The collection also contains three civil war bank notes and a Confederate Cross of Honor.


  • Creation: 1861-1875, undated

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Frank Leslie's Illustrated newspaper (1855) and Harper's Weekly (1857) were two of the first illustrated newspapers to appear in the United States, beginning in the 1850s. Though both papers experienced issues financially during their first years in business, the Civil War catapulted them to commercial success as readers were increasingly eager for news of the war. The papers' pictorial style made it possible to deliver images of the war into the homes of their readers by dispatching artists to follow armies and sketch battles, encampments, and other events of interest. These sketches were then converted by engravers into woodblock engravings for mass printing.

Despite initial attempts to cover events in a nonpartisan manner and avoid the issue of slavery altogether, both Leslie's and Harper's eventually assumed a pro-Union stance as the Civil War progressed. They supported emancipation and the recruitment of black troops, and reported on the brutality of slavery. One particular article published in Harper's titled, "A Typical Negro" (July 4, 1863), shocked northern readers and outraged the southern press for its illustrations of the whip-scarred back of a formerly enslaved man named Gordon.


10 Containers (Contains 2 oversize boxes, 6 oversize folders, and 2 framed items.)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into four series, three of which are organized by publisher.

Series 1: Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper

Series 2: Harper's Weekly

Series 3: Miscellaneous Publications

Series 4: Currency

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by James Fugate in June 2005.

Processing Information

This collection was reprocessed by Tess Will in the Fall of 2022.

Civil War Era Newsprints
Tess Will
2022 September 28
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository