Galleries 2
Collections 0
Groups 0
Discovering the Civil War, landmark exhibition from Washington D.C.’s National Archives
Opening February 2013 at the Tennessee State Museum, Nashville
Layers of time and memory have obscured the American Civil War for many in a smoky haze. The real human beings, military and civilian, who lived through these years of travail and sacrifice, are lost to us, but the objects and records they left behind do offer a window into the past.

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 nation’s 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 will be on view for a limited time during the exhibition.
Timed reservations are recommended. Click here for more information.


The Tennessee State Museum will be 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 will be displayed at intervals during a to-be-determined six-day period in 2013 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 America’s 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 original treasures and several documents which will be on public view for the first time

The Discovering the Civil War exhibit, which will continue well beyond the Emancipation Proclamation’s 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 Carolina’s 1860 declaration of secession.

For additional updates on the Emancipation Proclamation and Discovering the Civil War, visit the museum’s website at www.tnmuseum.org. Discovering the Civil War was created by the National Archives and Records Administration and the Foundation for the National Archives.

Press Preview & Unveiling 2.11.13

Visitors 9
275 photos
Press Preview & Unveiling 2.11.13

VIP Guest Unveiling

Visitors 11
392 photos
VIP Guest Unveiling