Cumberland Times-News

Local News

August 6, 2011

Western Maryland Regional Library hosting Civil War in Your Attic

Residents encouraged to bring old papers to be scanned, shared

— CUMBERLAND — In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Western Maryland Regional Library is hosting a Civil War in Your Attic event in order to preserve and tell hidden stories of the War Between the States, circa 1859-1867, according to Jill Craig, a digitization librarian with the library.

“The information we are collecting is the information that is not know about the war. For example, how individuals felt about the war and how it affected local folks,” said Craig. “If people are willing to share this information there isn’t much point to having it in their attic.”

The Civil War in Your Attic invites residents to bring original Civil War documents to the Allegany College of Maryland Library to be scanned and shared via the Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage website.

On Saturday, Janice Beall, who works at the LaVale Library, brought an old suitcase full of about 40 letters from and to her great grandfather, Francis Beall, to be transcribed and scanned. Beall said the letters were mostly to and from family members and she has yet to read them all.

“There was just all this old stuff stored at my father’s house that had all kinds of little bits and pieces of information. I thought I might as well share it with someone,” said Beall, who was working on slowly transcribing the letters.

Beall also brought in an old diary of her great grandfather’s to be scanned and transcribed. Beall worked on transcribing the diary prior to the scanning event. Beall uses context clues to decipher the unreadable parts of the letter.

“The more you transcribe the better you get,” said Beall.

In addition to Beall, the Allegany County Historical Society provided military discharge papers, a muster roll, an unofficial list of officers and men in a military unit or ship’s company, maps and ordinances. An ordinance is an accounting list of supplies that needed to be turned in before the soldiers took off, according to Craig.

“It’s wonderful what the Historical Society has provided,” said Craig. “If you’re into this kind of thing it’s fun.”

Beall is also expecting military material from Cumberland resident Charles McVeigh and military discharge papers from Jerry Golden.

The website is part of statewide collaborative effort by the Maryland History and Culture Collaborative and the Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage to locate, scan and provide online access to documents. In addition to the scanned images and transcripts, the website will also provide a who’s who description and will list the owners if they wish to do so. Craig said all the material from all over the state will be complied and then placed on the website. She estimated it will take at least a month before all the information is available.

Another scanning event will be held on Monday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the ACM Library. The Western Maryland Regional Library is looking for letters, diaries, photographs, pension materials, military passes/discharge papers, hand-drawn sketches, hand-drawn maps and claims for damages. On hand to transcribe these documents will be Barbra Browning, a librarian at ACM. Craig will scan the documents and Carol Appenzellar of the Washington County Free Library will be recording personal information regarding donors.

Western Maryland Regional Library is an organization that provides support and materials for the continued enhancement of resources available through the Allegany County Library System, the Ruth Enlow Library of Garrett County and the Washington County Free Library System.

For a complete list of the scanning events, visit the website at www.mdch.org/civilwar. For more information on the ACM scanning event call 301-784-5269.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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