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Trails Regional Library will host “Divided Loyalties: Civil War Documents from the Missouri State Archives” from Dec. 9 through Dec. 27 at its Holden Branch, located at 207 S. Main, Holden.

In development for three years, the exhibit draws on more than 9 million pages of Civil War-related documents to examine the upheaval and uncertainty that characterized Missouri during the Civil War era.

As Missourians divided their loyalties between the Union and the Confederacy, many found themselves facing dire consequences for their decisions.

The traveling exhibit, which was developed by the Missouri State Archives, focuses on the social conflict that permeated the state for the two decades that followed the Kansas border wars of the mid-1850s.

Going beyond the stories of battle and military strategy, original documents demonstrate how even those Missourians who did not serve in the military could be subject to suspicion, discrimination and violence.

Through state documents and court cases, “Divided Loyalties” covers all of Missouri’s tumultuous Civil War history, from the Kansas-Missouri Border War to Reconstruction.

The exhibit demonstrates that the war in Missouri was not fought solely on the battlefield.

Rather, the conflict was so divisive it affected civilians and soldiers alike and lasted long after the war ended.

The role slavery played in dividing the state’s population is explored, along with the lives of soldiers and civilians who faced discrimination and violence from both Union troops and bushwhackers. The exhibit also examines how the court system was used to settle grievances after the war, and when that failed, how some Missourians resorted to vigilante violence.

Some of the most noteworthy documents featured in the exhibit include court cases brought by slaves seeking their freedom, such as the famous suit filed by Dred and Harriet Scott; records from Missouri’s pro-Confederate elected state government in exile and the federally-backed provisional government that took its place; muster rolls, company histories and military correspondence from the Missouri Adjutant General’s office; a U.S. Colored Troops volunteer enlistment form; the 1865 Constitution that disenfranchised Southern sympathizers; and documents chronicling attempts to bring Frank and Jesse James to justice.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the library will hold a STEAM program for children ages 8 to 14 on Thursday, Dec. 12.

Participants will get to map a battlefield, find shelter for their troops, and trap enemies near rivers.

Also, scavenger hunts for all ages will be available at the circulation desk while the exhibit is on display.

The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular library hours.

Patrons will get a chance to view the exhibit once more at the Warrensburg and Odessa locations in early 2020.

For more information regarding the exhibit, contact the library at (816) 732-4545.

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