The National Archives holds millions of records, both Union and Confederate. Discovering the Civil War draws on these through letters, diaries, photos, petitions, and patents to give visitors a chance to walk in the shoes of scholars in unlocking secrets, solving mysteries, and uncovering unexpected events from this pivotal point in our nations history.
The exhibit is divided into 12 thematic areas that combine great original treasures, engaging touch screen interactive, and social media tools, all selected to illustrate the breadth of the conflict and to ask, "How do we know what happened?"
The original Emancipation Proclamation is on view for a limited time during the exhibition.
The Tennessee State Museum
is the only stop in the Southeast of an unprecedented tour and display of the Emancipation Proclamation, the document that altered the course of U.S. history and dramatically changed the lives of African-Americans by proclaiming freedom for millions of slaves.
The fragile manuscript signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 can only be exposed to light for 72 hours while in Tennessee. The document is being displayed at intervals during a to-be-determined six-day period marking the 150th anniversary of its celebrated signing.
"It is an incredible honor for Tennessee to host the Emancipation Proclamation, a document whose significance to the history of this country, and this region in particular, cannot be overstated," according to The Honorable Bill Haslam, governor of the Volunteer State. "This delicate manuscript represents Americas recognition that all are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and we invite people from across the Southeast and the nation to see and celebrate with us the moment our country officially became the land of the free."
The exhibition includes many original treasures and several important documents which are on public view for the first time.
The Discovering the Civil War exhibit, which continues well beyond the Emancipation Proclamations six day viewing, is the culmination of 150 years of analysis, interpretation, and opinion on the Civil War through lesser-known stories and perspectives. Many items on display never have been publicly exhibited. Highlights include the original copy of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery along with South Carolinas 1860 declaration of secession.