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The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War
Grade Level: 7-12+

The Valley of the Shadow Project looks at two communities, one Northern and one Southern, through the lens of the American Civil War. The project is an extensive archive of sources for the period before, during, and after the Civil War for Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The sources include newspapers, letters, diaries, photographs, and maps, plus church, census and military records.

The site has a straightforward and methodical layout. Images are available on specific pages but are not used much for adornment on the rest of the site. This makes for an older-browser-friendly site and fast downloads.

The Valley of the Shadow is currently divided into two main sections: The Eve of War and The War Years. A post-war section is pending. A clickable site map appears on all section heading and sub-heading pages. Use of your browser's back button is occasionally necessary.

The Valley of the Shadow Project is an outstanding opportunity to expose students to historical research with primary sources. Students can explore different dimensions of the Civil War conflict and write their own histories, reconstructing the life stories of women, African Americans, farmers, politicians, soldiers, and families. The site provides a comprehensive set of teaching materials, including lesson plans, for use in 7th- to 12th-grade classrooms and at the college level. Teachers can jump right into this one without hours and hours of prep time. The resources available can give students a rare glimpse into the ordinary lives of people and communities on both sides of this historic conflict. This excellent resource is still growing and expanding!