What course did the communal society at Zoar take when the Civil War broke out? As an article of faith, the German Pietist group opposed war, yet had also become a strong supporter of the Union.
Some of Zoar’s young men remained conscientious objectors to war, others became—as it were—conscientious participators. What is remarkable is the community’s attempt to show compassion and charity to all its individual members, regardless of the path that each felt compelled to follow.
The documentary trail to the outcome of this story can be followed in the Ohio Historical Society Archives. The pertinent documents (in English translation) appear with commentary in Zoar in the Civil War (Kent State University Press, 2007).
Only a few years prior to publication of this book, the OHS Archives acquired the Jack and Pat Adamson Collection (MSS 1276), a monumental addition to the Society of Zoar Records (MSS 110), the Nixon Family Papers (MSS 680), and other unique manuscript collections held at the OHS Archives.
There is also a wonderful caches of images relating to Zoar in and around the time of the Civil War. Among these is a photo of veterans of the war (four from Zoar) wearing their Grand Army of the Republic medals. (MSS 110, AL01762) Another photo shows veteran Anton Burkhart with an American flag bearing the names of men from Zoar who served in the Civil War. (Collection P 365, AL00854)
Because of the excellent preservation, cataloging, and technical services of the OHS Archives, it was possible to reproduce these and a number of other pertinent photos in Zoar in the Civil War. Whether in the recovery of texts, images, or other forms of historical documentation, books like Zoar in the Civil War are as much a tribute to the OHS Archives and its staff as to the scholars who use its resources.