Melding Book Production with Collecting

The History Bank became intimately involved with Civil War institutions and collectors when our lifelong interest in that period of American history evolved into a multi-book contract with Penguin/Dutton Children's Books in the mid-1980s. Our vision was to develop books that would bring the conflict to life for students as never before.

Traditionally, school history texts and supplemental reading had often consisted of little more than names, dates, numbers, mug shots and perhaps 50,000 or so words of text. Our goal was to develop a series that would capture and hold the interest of students with compelling first-person accounts and profuse, powerful illustrations. These books would take readers on a virtual tour of the battlefields, the homefronts, and the minds and experiences of the people who lived during the Civil War. We would also unearth and present the lesser-known aspects of the conflict, such as the roles of women and the contributions of African-Americans.

Over the next 10 years we developed, wrote and produced a seven-volume Young Readers History of the Civil War. Titles such as Behind the Blue and Gray and Black Soldiers in the Civil War soon became staples for middle schools and libraries. The series received more than two dozen awards for excellence in education and social and ethnic studies. Through 2008 the seven books had sold more than 500,000 copies.

In the process of researching and producing the books we gathered hundreds of artifacts and ephemera to illustrate the series. By scouring private collections, public institutions and auction catalogs we systematically built an extensive archive, including many rare and unusual items. After each book was published we often sold the illustrative material to individual collectors and museums.

Our goal in selling ephemera is the same as our editorial approach: Provide the reader, the customer, with a glimpse into life in the 1860s, whether at home, in Congress or on the battlefield. These books fueled our expansion into broader areas of Americana.

Our other Civil War projects—for publishers, institutions and museums—have included all aspects of research, the acquisition of rare original period documents, analysis and appraisals of Civil War memorabilia and much more.

Please see our ITEMS FOR SALE page or email us for complete information on our museum-quality inventory of Civil War artifacts and ephemera. Feel free to contact us with questions about any aspect of the Civil War or to inquire about items on your personal want list.

© 2010 The History Bank