ABOUT THE ROSTER
Announcing the first comprehensive digital archive of Jews who fought in the American Civil War. What began as an endeavor to corroborate a long-antiquated list of Jews who served during the Civil War has become a monumental work that testifies to a major turning point in Jewish history. Over the course of ten years, Shapell Manuscript Foundation researchers have unearthed a treasure trove of information on Union and Confederate Jews during the Civil War era and have created a groundbreaking documentary work: The Shapell Roster. The Roster will give new life to a buried record of the Jewish-immigrant experience and American patriotism by making this information available to the public online and in an illustrated publication.
The records include Jewish soldiers’ detailed military history, photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, diaries and more. The body of the research is amassed from hundreds of primary and secondary sources, descendants, historians, and genealogists. Taken together, the materials create a unique and illuminating perspective on the Jewish military experience, individual Jewish soldiers, and Jewish life during the Civil War.
For over a hundred years, scholars have based their understanding of Jewish military enlistment in the Civil War on Simon Wolf’s "The American Jew as Soldier, Patriot and Citizen", originally published in 1895. While the book served to publicly address the anti-Semitism of the time and provide evidence of Jewish patriotism, it contains numerous errors and inaccuracies. Utilizing military records under the auspices of the National Archives and Records Administration, and primary source records from countless repositories, what began as an update to Wolf’s list now incorporates a myriad of additions and corrections, and presents a clear and modern methodology.
The result is the first-ever comprehensive data archive on this topic, which will change the scholarship on Jews in America in the 19th century. With over 25,000 hours of research, The Shapell Roster is nearing its completion, and will be accompanied by a book release in 2018.
This project is a flagship effort of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, and is led by Dr. John Sellers, former Civil War Specialist and Director of the Abraham Lincoln Division at the Library of Congress; in consultation with Civil War collector Robert Marcus; managed by Adrienne Usher; and is under the guidance of the esteemed Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Take a closer look at the work of the Roster researchers at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Learn about the history of the project and see some of the exquisite documents found in the files.
SHARE YOUR STORY
Do you or your family own letters or documents relating to the service of a Jewish American Civil War soldier? Whether it is a name, certificate of enlistment or discharge, or a note sent home from the front, submit information to be part of the database and publication of the Shapell Roster. What you have in your possession may be the only remaining artifact of a long forgotten hero. Make sure he is counted.