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Charles Snyder papers, 1857-1866

0.5 linear feet

The Charles Snyder papers contain correspondence between Snyder, a soldier in the 50th New York Engineers, his future wife, and other family members, concerning soldiers' duties and attitudes, religious activities, and other topics.

The Charles Snyder papers contain 182 letters to and from Snyder, 1857-1866, and one carte-de-visite photograph of him in uniform. Charles wrote 67 letters; his future wife, Hannah Wright, wrote 77; his sister Lizzie wrote 10; and his brother Steve wrote 8. Miscellaneous friends and family contributed an additional 20 letters.

The 14 letters predating Snyder's enlistment concern his teaching career, study at the University of Albany, religious activities, and family news from several of his sisters. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Snyder commented regularly on the conflict; he stated that the "strongest moral power" would be needed by soldiers in order to resist the temptations of camp life (September 17, 1861) and described a visit to the barracks of his brother William, a soldier in the 97th New York Infantry (January 25, 1861).

Between Snyder's enlistment in August 1862 and the end of the war, almost all of the correspondence is between Charles Snyder and his future wife, Hannah ("Nannie") Wright. In his letters, Snyder gave his frank opinions of various aspects of the war, often influenced by his strong religious convictions. Snyder initially felt that a recruiter had deceived him about the character of the regiment he had joined, particularly objecting to the men's swearing and drinking, and in several early letters, expressed his disillusionment with their behavior, as well as with the Union's mounting defeats. In other letters, he described his duties with the 50th Engineers, including building and destroying roads and bridges, constructing rafts, unloading trains, clearing brush, filling ditches, and moving boats, but wrote "that our country is receiving the full benefit of our sacrifices is not so clear to me" (November 27, 1862).

Snyder's letters provide many rich details of his experiences, such as the taunting by Confederates wielding a sign reading "Burnside stuck in the mud" (January 25, 1863), the universal dislike of the strict pass system instituted by the army (August 30, 1863), and the eating of a Thanksgiving turkey that he and his friends named "Jeff Davis" (November 28, 1863). On several occasions, he wrote to Hannah regarding the morale of the Army of the Potomac, discussing their "unabated" confidence in General Joseph Hooker (May 7, 1863) and stating that they did not consider Chancellorsville a total defeat, especially with the death of Stonewall Jackson, which he considered "equivalent to the loss of many thousand men" (May 20, 1863). Many of Snyder's 1865 letters relate to his promotion to first lieutenant and his desire to return home to Hannah, whom he intended to marry.

In her letters, Hannah Wright discussed religious activities (including involvement with the Tract Society), teaching, and family news, and she also expressed concern and affection for Charles. Later correspondence indicated her increasing involvement in the Union cause, including going to meetings of the U.S. Sanitary Commission (December 21, 1864), and knitting for soldiers. Wright shared Snyder's religious devotion and strict moral code. She reacted strongly to his news that Mary Todd Lincoln had worn makeup to a reception held for soldiers by President Lincoln, writing "It is a sad pity Mrs. Lincoln isn't a true woman" and calling it a "sin" (February 19, 1864). Letters from Snyder's brother Steve and sister Lizzie are primarily personal, regarding health, social visits, and news about other enlisted friends and neighbors.


Horace Mann papers, 1823-1876 (majority within 1823-1857)

162 items (0.5 linear feet)

The papers of Horace Mann (1796-1859), lawyer, congressman, and educational reformer, contain correspondence and documents spanning his early legal career to the years before his death, as well as miscellaneous quotations, notes, and photographs.

The Horace Mann papers date from his early career as a lawyer until 1857, two years before his death (plus a single outlying 1876 item). The collection contains 51 letters (1823-1876), 83 bills/receipts (1824-1833), 15 legal documents (1824-1837), 2 promissory notes (1826; 1829), 4 graphic items, 1 printed bibliography, and 6 autographs, notations, and miscellaneous items.

Beginning with a letter to Ira Barton, in which he praises Barton's oration at the previous year's Independence Day celebration (March 20, 1823), the forty-eight outgoing letters of Horace Mann cover a variety of topics. Eloquently written, these letters provide information about Mann's own thoughts and perspectives. Many of them contain responses to requests to give lectures and others pertain to his perpetually full schedule. They include remarks regarding opposition to the Massachusetts Board of Education in the years following its formation, discussions with P.M. Upson (a Eutaw, Alabama teacher) about his annual reports and the Common Journal (1845), suggestions to J.B. Vandever for the construction of a school (1851), plans and details surrounding the formation of a teachers' institute at Fitchburg, Massachusetts (in correspondence with Charles Mason, 1845), comments on his nomination to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1848, efforts to procure funds to send Mr. Pierce to the World Peace Convention in 1849, friendly conversations with and advice to Samuel Downer, Jr. (from Antioch College, 1854-1857), and other subjects.

Horace Mann did not write two of the letters in this collection. One, by Edward Everett, nominates an unnamed person to a position on the Massachusetts Board of Education (to fill Edward A. Newton's vacant seat). The other, written in 1876 by Mary Mann to Miss Jacobson (who was inspired by Horace Mann's work), encloses a fragment from one of his manuscripts.

The 83 bills/receipts include itemized fees for Horace Mann's services as prosecuting attorney for clients in Norfolk County. Each of these financial documents include fees for writs, entry and court dues, travel expenses, trial attendance, and individual tasks, such as receiving and swearing in the complainant and summoning witnesses.

The 15 legal documents are miscellaneous, related to almost as many different court cases. Most of them regard financial claims and are signed by Horace Mann as attorney for the plaintiffs. One document stands out above the others: the appointment of the first Massachusetts Board of Education, dated May 25, 1837. Signed by Edward Everett and Secretary John P. Bigelow, this item names James G. Carter, Emerson Davis, Edmund Dwight, Horace Mann, Edward A. Newton, Robert Rantoul, Jr., Thomas Robbins, and Jared Sparks to the Board. It bears the seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Four graphic items in the collection include three portraits of Horace Mann and a single negative. These images are: one reproduction of an illustration; one hand-colored and mounted albumin print (oval vignette); and one modern photographic reproduction of an earlier touched-up reproduction of a daguerreotype (with an accompanying negative).

The collection contains a printed 31-page "Bibliography of Horace Mann," prepared by Horace Mann’s son, Benjamin Pickman Mann, December 9, 1896. This bibliography was published in the US Bureau of Education, Report of the Commissioner for 1896-1897, vol. 1 (Washington, D.C., 1898).

A small selection of quotations, notations, autographs, and miscellany completes the collection. One signed quotation reads: "I would rather imitate the actions of one good man than to possess the autographs of all the great men in the world." Another small sheet contains the autographs of several Massachusetts Congressmen. Other miscellaneous items include fragments of papers on the responsibilities and jurisdiction of a town's school committees and rules for proper behavior.


New Gloucester (Me.) collection, 1805-1823

61 items

The New Gloucester (Me.) collection contains documents, financial records, and other items related to four local groups active in the early 19th century: the First Christian Universalist Society, the Congregational Fund, the Hill School District (later the Southwest School District), and the Antipedo Baptist Society. Other material concerns a Universalist convention in Turner, Maine, and newspaper advertisements and subscriptions.

This collection contains 61 documents, financial records, and other items related to four groups active in New Gloucester, Maine, in the early 19th century: the First Christian Universalist Society, the Congregational Fund, the Hill School District, and the Antipedo Baptist Society. Other material concerns a Universalist convention in Turner, Maine, and newspaper advertisements and subscriptions.

The Universalist Society Documents series (3 items) is comprised of a membership list for the First Christian Universalist Society in New Gloucester (June 18, 1805) and a receipt for the society's reimbursement of a purchase of a record book (July 11, 1805), both signed by Reuben Barns (or Barrs), as well as a signed statement by Jonathan Bennett, Jr., regarding Jacob Bailey's sworn oath to become the society's assessor (undated).

The three Imprints are a 2-page circular; a 1-page document relating to a convention of Universalist societies assembled in Turner, Maine (September 4, 1805); and Directions for Taking and Using the True and Genuine British Oil... (8 pages, undated).

Receipts and Promissory Notes (13 items) pertain to advertising costs in the Portland Gazette (April 7, 1804), a subscription to the Eastern Argus (August 1, 1810), and the finances of "the Congregational Fund in New Gloucester" (11 items, September 18, 1807). Promissory notes from the Congregational Fund are addressed to the fund's treasurer, Enoch Fogg; each contains notes about interest and repayment on the reverse side, dated as late as 1823.

The School District Papers are comprised of 22 notices and meeting minutes and 1 financial document. The records relate to the affairs of the Hill School District (later the Southwest School District) in New Gloucester, Maine, from June 5, 1806-October 31, 1823. Eligible male voters were notified of meetings held to settle administrative affairs, and notices and meeting minutes refer to votes on subjects such as the construction of a new schoolhouse, building repairs, provision of wood for the school's stove, authorization and dates of terms, finances and taxes, and hiring teachers. On different occasions, the district intended to hire both male and female teachers. The final item is a list of names and amounts of money (November 6, 1823).

Documents related to the Antipedo Baptist Society (19 items) include notices of meetings, requests for membership, and meeting minutes, most of which relate to the election of officers. The group operated in New Gloucester, Gray, and Poland, Maine; its members included Elder Ephraim Stinchfield.