IN THIS EDITION -- February 28. 2002


Top 10 Most Threatened Civil War Battlefields


The places where our ancestors fought and died during the Civil War are quickly being wiped out by strip malls, parking lots and roadways. The Civil War Preservation Trust works to protect these sites so that future generations can have a sense of where the Civil War took place. This week, the trust released its top 10 list of America's Most Endangered Battlefields:

* Atlanta, Ga.
* Bentonville, NC
* Chancellorsville, Va.
* Corinth, Miss.
* Franklin, Tenn.
* Gaines' Mill/Cold Harbor, Va.
* Gettysburg, Pa.
* Harpers Ferry, WV
* Richmond, Ky.
* Stones River, Tenn.

These sites were chosen because of their geographic location, military significance and the immediacy of current threats. The trust based its selections on a study by the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission that prioritized sites according to significance and state of preservation. Read about each site's history and current status at


Fill in Photo Gaps with Postcards


A tip from Phyllis Collins of Sarasota, Fla.:

"I am using postcards to help the next generations understand their previous generations. Find postcards that show villages where ancesters lived, or churches or hospitals that were part of their lives. I was lucky enough to find a postcard of the church where my great-grandfather was christened and married. Postcards also can help the next generations get an understanding of the skills their ancesters developed. One grandfather was a stone cutter in Vermont. I have some postcards of quarries in Vermont, showing men at work. One great-grandfather was a blacksmith. I have found postcards showing blacksmiths at work. One great-grandfather was a cooper in Nova Scotia. I have found a book called The Village Cooper. Postcards are able to supply pictures where family pictures do not exist."


Spielberg's Holocaust Foundation Launches Site


Steven Spielberg's organization dedicated to preserving oral histories of Holocaust survivors recently launched a new Web site, Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation is a nonprofit group that videotapes testimonies of Holocaust survivors and witnesses and makes them accessible for educational purposes. Its new site features video demonstrations of how its digital library was collected and is being cataloged for the future. You'll also find information about plans for worldwide access to the archive, a link to the foundation's newsletter, a catalog of its educational products and portions of actual testimonies. To view the video portions of the site, you will need high-speed Internet access and Quicktime media player (a free download at


Fun and Games during the Civil War


In the 19th century, society in the North was becoming increasingly urbanized and diverse, and many forms of entertainment evolved to that were both tailored to large crowds and likely to suit a wide variety of tastes and backgrounds. Spectator sports like horse racing and boxing were popular. Ultimately, however, in the years following the Civil War, baseball trumped all other spectator activities as America's favorite 19th-century sport.

Gambling was also popular, both on spectator sports and at the gaming table, and casual card or board games were played by many friends and families.

Theater, another largely urban form of entertainment, evolved during the 19th century, and vaudeville and burlesque emerged as unique forms of staged entertainment for the masses. Circuses, in both cities and the country, also came into their own as a distinct form of entertainment, especially in the years following the Civil War.

Being less urbanized than the North, people in the South tended toward smaller-scale kinds of entertainment, especially prior to the war. Balls held by the upper crust, activities shared by farm families and festivals celebrated in towns, villages or plantations predominated. Venues for spectator activities, such as baseball parks or race tracks, were much less widespread than in the North. Participant sports, however, such as horse racing amongst the members of a club or village, were much more likely. Travelling circuses and carnivals, especially in conjunction with county or state fairs, were popular, and broke up the day-to-day routines of rural life.

Shortages imposed by the war changed the nature of many social activities, of course, but Southerners still enjoyed them. "Biscuit parties" were thrown by those able to obtain some wheat flour or by friends who might each bring what they had available. Later in the war, when for many there was not flour or anything else, people held "starvation parties," where the only refreshment served was water.

-Excerpted from Everyday Life During the Civil War by Michael J. Varhola, $16.99. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher Betterway Books. Available in bookstores or online at