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Life During the Civil War Era


Subject:U.S. History, Arts & Humanities
Grade:3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Featured Graphic Brief Description

Students use library or provided online resources to create a museum exhibit or a fictional journal or newspaper account about life during the Civil War era.


Students use resources related to the Civil War to paint a picture in words of what it was like to live at that time.


Civil War, journal, newspaper

Materials Needed

computers with Internet access, paper, pens or pencils, primary source materials, Civil War-era photos

Lesson Plan

The following lesson and/or WebQuest plans provide all the resources you will need:

Civil War Personal Journal
This WebQuest involves students in using resources to create a personal journal. Students write journal entries as if they were one of a handful of Civil War-era characters (a Union soldier, a Confederate soldier, a Southern belle, a Northern woman, or a female abolitionist). Older students might use some actual journals or diaries of real people of the Civil War era to guide their journal writing. Such resources can be found on The American Civil War Homepage (click on Documentary Records and scroll down to Private/Personal Documents).

If the Dead Could Talk...
Take on the persona of an individual living at the time of the Civil War and create a living history museum exhibit of that person's life. Students can choose to be one of about a dozen different characters, including an African American slave, an army chaplain, an army nurse, a prisoner of war, a union general, a war photographer, or a woman on the home front.

Additional Resources
In each of these teacher-created WebQuests, students work in groups to create a project documenting the Civil War era. Each student takes on a specific responsibility in the process.
The Civil War Times WebQuest [archived copy]
Civil War Battles: The Reporter's Perspective (A WebQuest)
A Nation Divided WebQuest
The Civil War Through Our Eyes WebQuest


Lesson plans include tools for assessment, evaluation, and/or reflection.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World (with resources listed above)

National Standards

Social Sciences:

Language Arts:

Originally published 06/05/2000
Last updated 03/18/2010