Just starting the project? Read journal entries by last year's 8th graders here. Read entries by the class of 2007 here (Union soldiers), here (Confederate soldiers), and here (women).

Ready to start your research? Scroll down for instructions, handouts, and Web sites for your research.

Ready to choose a name for your fictional (made-up) soldier or woman? Soldiers, use this database or this one; Women, use this web site

Ready to post your journal entry?Click here.

Handouts & Presentations

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The American Civil War took place from 1861–1865.

The Union (northern states) fought against 11 southern states. The southern states, or Confederates, wanted to break away from from the rest of the United States and form their own country.

About 3 million people fought in the Civil War.

About 600,000 people died, either in battle or from disease.

As part of this project, you will learn more about the American Civil War. You will discover the causes of the war, the major battles, and what happened afterwards. You will also learn about what life was like during the Civil War -- for a northern soldier, a southern soldier, and for women. You will also learn about the music of the Civil War period.


Imagine that you were alive during the time of the American Civil War. Where would you live? Which side would you support? What would you wear? What would you eat? If you were a soldier, what weapons would you have? How would you survive?

As part of this project, you will choose a role and find out what that person's life might have been like. You will write several journal entries -- a Civil War diary -- describing what you do each day, what you think about the war, and what hardships you must deal with. You will also describe the music you might have listened to. In addition, you will create a map of the United States that shows where you lived in 1861, and where the major battles of the war took place.

Finally, you will post your best journal entry as a comment to a MLK Civil War Journals blog, sharing it with other students and teachers and providing a model for future students who will also do this project. 

Read journal entries by last year's 8th graders here. Read entries by the class of 2007 here (Union soldiers), here (Confederate soldiers), and here (women).


You will work with a partner to do research on the Civil War. You will be using your textbook, library books, and the library computers. You will take notes on the resources you find, taking care to write the title and author or the book or the name and URL of the Web site. Be sure to keep all of your notes; you will turn them in.

You and your partner will choose one of the following roles:

A. A northern (Union) soldier. In this role, you could choose to write your journal entry as an African-American soldier who joined the Union army.

B. A southern (Confederate) soldier

C. A woman (northern or southern) during the Civil War

You and your partner will choose a name for your fictional (made-up) person:

Choose a name for your soldier or Civil War woman.

Soldiers, use this database

Women, use this web site

Research the following topics:

1. The causes of the Civil War
2. Maps showing the states and battles
3. The music of the Civil War

During the research period, Ms. Doyle will demonstrate:

1) How to cite your sources (say where you got each piece of information) as part of your notes

2) How to recognize a primary source

3) How to post your work as a comment to the blog

By the end of the research time, each person will be ready to write their journal entries.

You will write at least 3 journal entries for your person, with each one at least one handwritten page.

Entry 1 -- Beginning of the War
Explain who you are and where you live.
Describe a day in your life -- where do you live, what do you wear, what do you eat, what music do you listen to, what do you do all day?
Also, in your role, reflect on the causes of the war.
Do you think the war is justified -- that there is no other choice? What are you worried about as the Civil War is about to begin?

Entry 2 -- Middle of the War
Where are you now? What are you doing?
If you are a soldier, describe what it is like to fight a battle. What kind of uniform do you wear? What weapons do you have? Is there enough to eat? What diseases are people dying from? What happens to people who are wounded?
If you are a woman during the war, what is your life like? Are you doing war work, such as sewing uniforms? Are you a spy? A schoolgirl?
What are your opinions about the war now?

Entry 3 -- End of the War
The war is ending and Reconstruction has begun. What is your life like now?
If you are a soldier, are you looking forward to returning home? Have your friends and family members survived the war?
If you are an African-American soldier, what are your feelings about the end of slavery? Where will you go? What might your life be like now?
If you are a woman, northern or southern, what changes might the end of the war bring?

You will turn in:

1. Your notes from your research
2. Your three journal entries
3. A map of the United States in 1861 showing where the person in your journal lives. Be sure to show which states were Union states and which were Confederate states. On this map, also show where at least 5 major battles took place.

You will submit online:

Your will also choose your BEST journal entry, type it in Microsoft Word, and then add it to the Civil War Journal Blog as a comment. Remember that it will not appear on the blog until Ms. Doyle reads it and approves it.

Also remember that you should never use your full name when posting on the Internet -- please sign your journal entry submission using your first name and last initial only, plus the class period.



Here are a few of the online resources you may want to use to complete your project, along with books from the library.


Read journal entries by Union soldiers

Read journal entries by Confederate soldiers

Read journal entries by women during the Civil War

Student Resource Center
Kids Infobits Articles

Hey Historian! Gettysburg Park's Civil War Kids' Page
The South During the Civil War
The North During the Civil War

Civil War Maps
National Geographic Map Machine: Civil War Edition

National Geographic Battlefield Maps
Virtual Battlefield Tours
Civil War Battle Summaries by State

Life of a soldier
National Park Service: Civil War Soldier
Life as a Soldier
African-American soldiers
Civil War Soldiers' Stories

Women during the Civil War
Civil War Home: Women in Uniform in the Civil War
Civil War Women
Diaries and Letters
Women in the Civil War
Southern Women in the Civil War

Music of the Civil War
Civil War Band Collection, 1st Brigade Band of Brodhead, Wisconsin
Primary Source Set: Civil War Music
To Gettysburg: Songs Inspired by the Famous Battle
2nd South Carolina String Band
Band Music from the Civil War Era
Music of the American Civil War
Music for the Nation
"We'll Sing to Abe Our Song!"

Selected Civil War Photographs
Civil War Photos
Kids Infobits Photos

Need more links? Try the American Civil War Home Page.