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Guide to the Civil War Posters
  PR 55-3

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Trina Veckley and Elizabeth E. Arena

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 20, 2019
Description is in English.

Scope and Content Note

The Civil War Posters consist of a total of 466 items. Of this total, 275 are recruiting posters, 31 are posters advertising auctions, drives, meetings, and the remaining 160 items refer to deserter lists, muster rolls, and various other announcements and newspaper clippings pertaining to the Civil War. The recruiting posters represent a variety of Civil War regiments from the states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania in the areas of artillery, cavalry, and infantry. Most of the recruiting posters come from New York followed by New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Also noted on many recruiting posters are the types of men desired. These desired men may have been African Americans, Germans (11 are written in German), Irish, married or single men.

The iconography of the recruiting posters also makes them quite distinct. Icons, in color and black and white, depict the spreading wings of an eagle with banners, valiant cavalry men on horses, beautiful harps, and the heroic face of George Washington to name only a few. For many posters, it is the icon that is the prominent image on the poster and draws the viewer's attention. Other posters of interest may be found in the 160 items which are not recruiting posters. Some of these items include songs, poems, and even a hospital slipper pattern. The deserter lists in these 160 items demonstrate the indignance of officials against deserters and the posting of rewards to track down such persons.


The recruiting posters, the first 306 items of the Civil War posters collection, are numbered in an arrangement by state, event (meeting, auctions, etc.), size (standard vs. oversize), regiment designation, and title. The remaining 160 items (deserter lists, muster rolls, etc.), are divided between Union and Confederate and arranged by state. The posters are physically arranged by size. The container list describes where posters are housed by number. An item-level database is available in the repository.