of Philadelphia

The Museum’s Collection

    • bullet struck pocket watch of sgt john o foering 86 20 3 3
    • Bullet-struck pocket watch of Sgt. John O. Foering, 28th Pennsylvania Infantry

    • birch record in war 10 061 bt 45
    • Drawing from soldier Carlton Birch's "Record in War", before conservation treatment

    • Fragment of battle flag of 118th PA volunteer infantry (86.2.68)
    • Fragment of the original battle flag of the 118th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

    • Personal battle flag of brig gen custer (86.2.40)
    • Personal battle flag of Brig. Gen. George A. Custer, used by Custer at the Battle of Gettysburg.

    • General Meade presentation sword AT (2)
    • General Meade's presentation sword, after conservation treatment
    • Meade eyeglasses AT (1)
    • The eyeglasses of General George Gordon Meade, after conservation treatment 

    • donaldson letters 10 063 1 bt 132
    • The Army letters of Francis Adams Donaldson, vol. 1, which describe events, people, places and gossip in the Army of the Potomac from 1862-1864 (before conservation treatment)

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Where to see the collection:

The Civil War Museum was housed at 18th and Pine Streets in Philadelphia from 1922 until 2008, when it closed. Since 2010 the collection has been cared for by the Gettysburg Foundation and stored at the Gettysburg Battlefield Museum and Visitors Center, where the collection was the centerpiece of the 150th anniversary exhibit "Treasures of the Civil War".

Archives and Books:

The library and archival material, including the MOLLUS archives, are on long-term loan to the library of the Union League Legacy Foundation in Philadelphia.

About the collection:

The Civil War Museum of Philadelphia has one of the most significant collections of Civil War artifacts in the country, in fact the largest collection of significant artifacts and archival material outside of government hands. Harold Holzer, noted Civil War historian and Co-Chair of the United States Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, said of the collection: “The Civil War Museum's collection is truly an American treasure”.

  • Grant presentation sword AT (4)

Comprising some 3,000 artifacts, several thousand photographs, hundreds of works of art, scores of maps and charts, and nearly 100 linear feet of letters, diaries, muster rolls and other archival materials, the collections of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia rank among the largest and most comprehensive in the United States. More than 80 percent of the materials came to the Museum directly from Civil War veterans, or their descendants. The collections hail from every state involved in the Union side of the war, and also include a small yet significant body of materials from the Confederate side. Prominent individuals such as Abraham Lincoln, General George Meade, Jr., General Ulysses S. Grant, and Rear Admiral George Melville are represented, along with hundreds of other individuals whose names are less familiar, but whose heroism and contribution were no less distinguished.

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The bulk of the Museum’s collections document the military experiences of individuals during the war. It includes an extensive armory collection of firearms, edged weapons, and ammunition; officers and enlisted soldiers’ uniforms, field equipment and utensils; battle and regimental flags and banners; recruiting posters and commissions; badges and insignia; escutcheons (military coats of arms); surgical tools and pharmaceutical materials; military band instruments; and other souvenirs from battlefields and prisoner of war camps.

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The collection also shows the War’s impact on civilian life. Letters and journals describe housewives’ struggles to raise a family, make ends meet, and cope with loneliness and loss. Nurses’ field kits, equipment and supplies produced by female war workers tell the important story of the role that women played in the conflict, and children’s clothing and schoolbooks, shed light on other aspects of life on the home front.