This guide is designed to assist researchers in investigating the history and culture of the Reconstruction Era after the American Civil War. All of the resources included can be found at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library and online. This guide does not include all of the primary materials about the Reconstruction Era held at Wilson Library, but it is intended to serve as a starting point for research.
Reconstruction is a topic whose periodization has changed in the scholarship. While many textbooks focus on the years of military reconstruction, where federal troops were in the former Confederate States between 1865-1877, historians now look at Reconstruction as a longer era that affected the entire country. This guide uses this longer periodization and has documents produced from 1865-1914, the formal end of the Civil War to the start of World War I.
Each subtopic addresses a line of inquiry or getting started on research. While this guide is a reference for special collections materials, it will also provide assistance and suggestions for other kinds of research materials across the UNC libraries. Like the primary sources in this guide, the list of secondary sources is not meant to be comprehensive, but is intended to serve as a starting point for research.
General Resources—overview resources concerning the Reconstruction Era
Politicians & Government—resources concerning politicians and government affairs
African Americans—resources concerning African American participation in and experience of Reconstruction
Women—resources concerning women’s participation in and experience of the Reconstruction Era
Veterans—resources concerning veterans and their treatment after the Civil War
Labor—resources concerning labor issues of the Reconstruction Era
North Carolina—resources concerning the Reconstruction Era in North Carolina
Registering and Requesting Materials—this page provides details about visiting Wilson Special Collections Library and UNC-Chapel Hill
This guide was created in Summer 2018 by Emma Rothberg and subsequently updated by Sarah Carrier.