Seventeen months before the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln stood to dedicate a Pennsylvania cemetery and delivered “a perfect gem,” the Gettysburg Address. This description of the address was given by a Massachusetts newspaper, the Springfield Republican, in 1863, and for over 150 years Gettyburg Address has been revered by Americans. Included are these poignant sentences: “The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”
In observation of Memorial Day, visit FamilySearch.org/civil-war. The FamilySearch Civil War Era Records page provides an impressive collection of free genealogical records that include military service records, unit histories, and pension records for both the Union and Confederate soldiers.
You may also be interested in reviewing the many articles and links relating to the Civil War found on the FamilySearch Civil War landing page. On this page you will find photos, records, and information about key figures of the Civil War. You can see the marriage document for Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent, accounts of the capture of John Wilkes Booth, and the 1880 census that lists Harriet Beecher Stowe. On the Civil War landing page, click the picture of President Lincoln to see his tax and probate records and his death certificate. There are also instructional videos, including “Civil War Genealogical Research” and “Finding the Slave Generation.”
Decoration Day: The First Memorial Day
Did you know that as early as 1862, families of soldiers and others met at cemeteries to decorate the graves of soldiers killed in battle and soldiers who died as prisoners of war? These memorials took place at various times of year and in cemeteries in many states, north and south. In 1868, the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization for Union veterans, called for the nationwide observance of “Decoration Day.” By 1890, it was an official holiday in many states. After World War I, the observances of the day were broadened to honor Americans who had died serving in all wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was designated by act of Congress as a national holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May.
This Memorial Day, honor loved ones and ancestors by permanently preserving priceless gems of your family’s history as digital artifacts. FamilySearch invites you to remember your ancestors by storing and sharing their memories, records, and photographs online for future generations. At no cost to you, you can upload family documents, pictures of ancestors, voice recordings, and written journals.