The Valley of the Shadow

Guide the the Valley: How to use the Valley Project

What is the Valley Project? | How to Get Around the Valley Archive | Using the Valley Project


The Valley of the Shadow is a digital archive of primary sources that document the lives of people in Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, during the era of the American Civil War. Here you may explore thousands of original documents that allow you to see what life was like during the Civil War for the men and women of Augusta and Franklin.
The Valley of the Shadow is different than many other history websites. It is more like a library than a single book. There is no "one" story in the Valley Project. Rather, what you'll find are thousands of letters and diaries, census and government records, newspapers and speeches, all of which record different aspects of daily life in these two counties at the time of the Civil War. As you explore the extensive archive and you'll find that you can flip through a Valley resident's Civil War diary, read what the county newspapers reported about the battle of Gettysburg, or even search the census records to see how much the average citizen owned in 1860 or 1870.
The Valley Project is a part of the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia.


The Full Valley Archive is divided into three main sections. The Eve of War section contains all the material that comes from the fall of 1859 to the spring of 1861, giving access to information on what life was like in the counties immediately before the war. The War Years section contains all the material from the years of the Civil War itself, covering the spring of 1861 until the spring of 1865. The Aftermath section contains the records of people's lives in Augusta and Franklin from the late spring of 1865 until the fall of 1870, as they tried to rebuild the counties after the end of the war.
To begin looking at these records, simply use your mouse to click on any part of the Valley Archive. For example, if you wanted to look at maps which compared the two counties, you would click on Maps & Images in The Eve of War section. If you wanted to read letters written during the Civil War you would click on Letters & Diaries in The War Years section of the Valley Archive. If you wanted to read about how ex-slaves tried to find family members who had been sold before the war, you would click on the Freedmen's Bureau section of The Aftermath.
As you explore different parts of the Valley, you can always come back to the Full Valley Archive by clicking on the icon which is at the bottom of every page:
Return to Full Valley Archive
You may take a walking tour of each section to get a better idea of what they contain:


You can also access the Using the Valley Project page at the bottom of the Full Valley Archive. In this special section you have tools which will help you use the Valley Project, show you what others have done with the Valley Project, and explain how the archive was created:

Return to Full Valley Archive