The Roster Project: Jewish Soldiers in the Civil War
Updated: Dec 31, 2018
Do you have family members who may have fought in the Civil War? Recently I heard from the Shapell Manuscript Foundation about their Roster Project, a comprehensive database of Jewish-American soldiers and sailors who fought in the Civil War as Union or Confederate soldiers. They started with an 1895 register by Simon Wolf titled The American Jew as Patriot, Soldier and Citizen. The register lists details on Jewish soldiers who fought in the Civil War and was pulled together in response to anti-Semitism. The database is included in the Jewishgen databases and you can find more information here.
The Roster Project goes a step beyond by verifying the names he included as Jewish or not, identifying their accurate military service, and adding more than a thousand soldiers that Wolf omitted. While their focus to date has been primarily on the Union, they hope to expand their scope to the Confederacy. The result of more than 25,000 hours of research, the Shapell Roster will be of interest to academic scholars, descendants, and anyone interested in the Civil War and Jewish American history. Their focus is on engaging the public with primary source material and the human side of history, while updating the existing scholarship on Jews in America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 2019 they hope to make it available to the public in the form of a free searchable database which will include a limited, but expanding, set of data.
They hope to connect with descendants whose ancestors served during the American Civil War, and organizations and institutions with information that will help them make the Shapell Roster the most comprehensive resource on the topic of Jewish Americans and the Civil War. If you or your family own letters or documents relating to the service of a Jewish American Civil War soldier, you can submit them to be part of the database. Read more about the project here.