Sunday, September 4, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: The Civil War Today (iPad app)

The Civil War Today
The History Channel
2011 (iPad app)
Source: iTunes

Check out Nonfiction Monday at Playing by the book

On April 12th, The History Channel launched an iPad app to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the beginning of The Civil War. Each day, events in real time will be revealed as they happened in the war. It will conclude on April 26, 2015. Several features give subscribers information about the progress of the war and the people who fought it. When I read this app, my eyes are usually drawn first to the Quote of the Day feature. Today's (Sept. 4, 1861) quote is from General Ulysses Grant:

"Well, somehow or other, I never learned to swear."

To the left of the quote is the main feature which focuses on events for that date. On Sept. 4th, 1861, thousands of Confederate soldiers moved into Columbus, Kentucky. Other paragraphs talk about a skirmish near Washington, D.C., a bridge burning in Missouri, and arrests of Confederate soldiers in northern cities. In the Headlines highlights a newspaper front page from the era. I was able to read a page from the Shreveport Daily News which printed war news and advertisements. Casualties To Date tallies the deaths for each side of the war. Day in the Life focuses on diary entries or other writing from 15 people connected to the war. John Beauchamp Jones, a clerk in the Confederate war department, writes less than glowingly about a man appointed brigadier general by Jefferson Davis:

"He too, was a West Pointer; but does not look like a military genius."

There is also a Photo Gallery, Battle Maps, and game features.

I see The Civil War Today as a valuable resource for social studies classes. Getting to read primary source documents is a great thing for students. One of the drawbacks is that some of the documents can be difficult to decipher due to smallness of print. I would combine this app with the American Memory collection from the Library of Congress to provide students with a richer experience in researching this monumental era in our history.

** You can access previous dates through a button on the bottom of the screen. 


  1. Hi Jeff, I love the idea of the app revealing a little more content each day - great if you got the app when it was released. I wonder how the app will stand the test of time though, after April next year when the anniversary is over, and the USP of a daily dose presumably doesn't work any more?

  2. I don't have an iPad and didn't think I wanted one, but I must say that this is one of the more intriguing apps I've heard of in the area of learning. You do know that the Cybils are seeking judges in the book apps category, right?

  3. Zoe, my hope is that I will still have access to the info after 2015. You can go back and read previous dates right now. I should have mentioned that in the review. Lisa, I am slowly trying to find educational uses for the iPad. That is a valid question when thinking about buying one. Right now it serves as a second Internet browser and video game console. Thank you both for visiting and leaving great thoughts to ponder!

  4. Hi Jeff! I have an iPad but have not explored this as yet - in fact, I hardly ever get to use it all since I prefer using my macbook and i'd rather lug around my entire system rather than use the touch pad interface of the iPad. But this review of yours has made me see its usefulness all over again. We are planning on doing a War/Peace theme as our Bimonthly Feature in GatheringBooks for November/December - and this appears like a perfect app to kind of get into that vibe. Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Thank you, Myra! I like your theme idea for Gathering Books.


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