- Historic Sites
Finding History On The Net
October 1995 | Volume 46, Issue 6
On the Web, I wandered into the Library of Congress’s American Memory Project , a digital archive of historical images, and was led to a marvelous archive of 1,118 Civil War photographs (
Most Web sites contain pointers to other sites. Useful lists of American history sites can be found at the American Studies Web (
Every page on the Web links to other pages, and on and on. Web browsing thus has a slightly narcotic effect, and I can no longer recall what first led me to “Valley of the Shadow” (
Only a computer project of this scale could have unearthed William Baylor—a wealthy Virginia farmer’s son who left no diaries or letters—by spotting his faint traces amidst its vast digital archive.
Baylor turns out to have been a rising young lawyer, a Democrat devoted to the Southern cause. A blurred photograph suggests an earnest young man, while faded newspaper articles reveal his political ambitions and tell of his marriage. Subsequent military-service records bluntly state the circumstances of his death, at age thirtyone, during Second Manassas. In a future version of “Valley of the Shadow” there will even be a photo of his headstone.