Civil War Draft Riots – Digital Exhibits

I started working on my final project for the HUM 502 Digital Humanities course I’ve been taking at the University of Southern Mississippi.  I am creating three online exhibits about riots that occurred in Union cities as a result of the military draft during the American Civil War.  I am creating an exhibit each on Troy, New York, Boston, Massachusetts and Staten Island, New York.  Finding images is going pretty well.  I’ve been mining sites like Google, Getty, Flikr and Alamy to get leads.  Unfortunately, there are not many actual photographs.  During the 1860s photography was still in its infancy, and it was a cumbersome process that involved large, heavy glass plates and lots of equipment.  Consequently, there are likely few, if any, “action” photos of riots in progress.  I found one relevant photograph – a picture of Market Square & Faneuil Hall taken in the aftermath of the Boston draft riot.  This one is part of the digital collections of the Boston Athenaeum, a private research library.  It is a remarkable photo in that part of the riot occurred in this location, and also because the square is entirely empty of people and market activity.  At the time this photo was taken, the square was under lockdown by the military and police, and Faneuil Hall was being used as the headquarters and barracks for the military while they where getting the riot under control.

Most of the relevant images I have found are black-and-white etchings and sketches of the New York City draft riot.  This is the best known and infamously notorious of the Civil War draft riots.  These depictions were in newspapers, particularly the New York City papers and the national weeklies such as Harper’s and Leslie’s Illustrated.  I found many of these images in the digital collections of the New York Public Library and some at the Library of Congress websites.  Unfortunately, I have yet to encounter similar type depictions for the other riots outside of New York City.  I can use the NYC ones, I suppose, even though they are not direct depictions of the riots I will be exhibiting.  Additionally, I have found some historic maps of the 1860s, archived in various digital library collections.  I have a few maps for Troy, Boston and Staten Island.  I am definitely using these, so that viewers can get a sense of what these cities were like at the time of the Civil War and riots.  If time permits, I will attempt to annotate these maps to depict the timing and progression of the various phases of the riots as they unfolded.  I also have a variety of newspaper clippings about each of the riots that I can use for images as well.