Press Release

back to all

California State Library logo
August 2, 2012

Kimberly Brown
Communications Officer
California State Library
(916) 651-6466

Rare documents and artifacts
from the Civil War era on display
at the State Library in August

SACRAMENTO – A "Dixie First Reader" textbook for school children in Southern states, a Colt pistol issued to a Union soldier, and the iconic 1863 edition of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen printed on wallpaper are just a few of the unique items on display at the State Library in an exhibit on the Civil War years.

Over 60 items from the library's collection, including books, tintypes, photos, and other archival materials, will be in the lobby during the month of August. The lobby is open weekdays, from 8 to 5. The library is located at 900 N Street in Sacramento, a block from the State Capitol.

California ballots for the presidential elections of 1860 and 1864 are also on display. Unlike today's ballots, voters dropped colorful party tickets, complete with slogans like "Rally around the Flag, Boys," into a ballot box. There is also a roster of the "California 100" volunteers who fought for the Union on Eastern battlegrounds, with check marks next to the names of the war dead.

The pistol exhibited belonged to Charles Gladding from Illinois. After the war, he moved to California and formed the Gladding McBean ceramics company with Peter McGill McBean. The company's elegant terra cotta columns and architectural ornamentation can be seen on many buildings throughout the state, including the California State Library and Courts Building.

Visitors will be able to see the famous "wallpaper edition" of the Vicksburg, Mississippi newspaper. Paper was scarce in the Confederate states, and the publisher was using the back of wallpaper instead. The edition was set for printing on July 2, 1863, two days before the city fell to the Union, but the publisher fled. Union soldiers printed the paper on July 4, with an added note that began, "Two days bring about great changes ."

In addition to the display, on Wednesday, August 15, historian Robert J. Chandler, will give a talk at the library on "California during the Civil War years," as part of the series, "A Night at the State Library." Dr. Chandler was a public historian for Wells Fargo Bank for 30 years. The event is free with RSVP. Light refreshments will be served. To RSVP, please call 916.653.9942 or email:

About the California State Library: Founded in 1850, the California State Library is the central reference and research library for the Governor's office, legislature, state employees, and the general public. The State Library administers federal and state grants for programs in historical preservation, library construction, civil liberties education, literacy, volunteering, and broadband connectivity in public libraries. For more information, please visit