Valley of the Shadow
The War Years
Spring 1861–Spring 1865


Newspapers offer us a window onto the world of local events—deaths, marriages, fires, elections, school recitals and town meetings—as well as providing us with state, national and international contexts. Both Staunton and Chambersburg had several papers publishing during the 1850s and 1860s: some for only a few months, and some for decades.

The newspapers of the Civil War-era were quite different from those of today, with no photographs and minimal headlines. These newspapers also had clear political affiliations: either Democratic or Whig (later Republican). They are full of fascinating history, but note that the language in these newspapers is often highly offensive, especially when the subjects are African-Americans, Irish immigrants, or women. Please read this language not as statements of fact but in the context of mid-nineteenth-century politics and society.

We have chosen four newspapers for this project: the Staunton Spectator (Virginia, Whig), the Republican Vindicator (Virginia, Democratic), the Franklin Repository and Transcript (Pennsylvania, Republican), and the Valley Spirit (Pennsylvania, Democratic). We have selected articles from these papers that are related to local persons, organizations, or events; we have included only those national events that touched directly on Augusta or Franklin County. International events are not included.