Research Opportunities

We maintain one of the largest collections of Civil War-Era artifacts. Learn how you can use it to complement your research project.

Our Collections

The American Civil War Museum has a world-class collection of Civil War military and civilian artifacts totaling over 15,000 items and over 150,000 documents. These artifacts tell the stories of countless individuals and their experiences during the Civil War- both on the battlefield and on the home front.

Manuscripts and Photos

In 2014, the American Civil War Museum and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture entered a licensing agreement by which the VMHC would digitize the Confederate Memorial Literary Society photo collection and handle all requests for digital images.

The Confederate Memorial Literary Society (CMLS) Image Collection includes approximately 6,300 items from the American Civil War Museum, including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, cartes-de-visite, albumen prints, cabinet cards, stereographs, glass negatives, and lantern slides.

As part of an ongoing partnership between the Virginia Museum of History and Culture (VMHC) and the American Civil War Museum, VMHC staff have digitized these items to provide better access to this valuable collection. These items are noted in the collection by the “(CMLS)” suffix to their object number. At this time, nearly 3,000 of these items are available in our online catalog and more will become available as VMHC staff continue work on this project.

By the same agreement, ACWM’s CMLS manuscript collections moved to the VMHC where they are available in their reading room. Items not yet appearing in the online catalog may be available for research. Contact them for further research questions regarding photos and manuscripts at

The John H. Motley Collection

The American Civil War Museum houses over 3,000 items relating to African American military history from Civil War to the Persian Gulf War. If you would like to get in touch to view items from this collection, please contact us to make an appointment.

Onsite Research Appointments

Anyone can view an item or items in the Museum’s collections, but you must make an appointment. All appointments must be scheduled in advance (generally two weeks). A donation to the Museum is encouraged if you make an appointment. To schedule an appointment, complete the form at the bottom of this page.

Rights and Reproductions

Digital images of objects from the museum’s permanent collection for personal use or publication are available. Please contact us for more information. Production and publication fees may apply.

Artifact Loan Policy

The American Civil War Museum considers it a part of its interpretive mission to make available pieces from its permanent collection for temporary loan to other qualified institutions. Loans are made based upon the condition of the item requested and the borrowing institution’s ability to meet industry standards in the care, protection and interpretation of materials. Please contact us for more information.

Donating an Artifact

We have a rich collection of military and civilian artifacts due to donations over the last 120 years, many from Civil War veterans, immediate family members, and their descendants. If you want to be part of that legacy by donating an item to the American Civil War Museum, please get in touch with our collections department. Click here to learn more.

Research Inquiries

Have additional questions? Contact us!