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Forget Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. While moviegoers around the country are watching Daniel Day-Lewis don a top hat and mimic the 16th president’s high-pitched timbre, Washingtonians can visit some real artifacts from the Civil War at the Library of Congress’ sesquicentennial exhibition, “The Civil War in America,” which opens today in the Thomas Jefferson Building. The exhibition promises to show the human side of the deadliest war in U.S. history, which means a treasure trove of letters, diaries, photographs, and broadsides from the era that have never before been displayed in public. One gem of the library’s impressive collection is Lincoln’s reading copy of his second inaugural address, which he delivered a month before he was killed. The exhibition is the centerpiece of the library’s two-year commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and it looks to be just as impressive as the exhibits that preceded it. At the very least, it’ll teach you a thing or two before Spielberg does.

The exhibition is on view from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays–Saturdays to June 1, 2013 at the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 1st St. SE. Free. (202) 707-4604. loc.gov.