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Caroline F. Putnam papers, 1868-1895 (majority within 1868-1877)

0.25 linear feet

This collection consists of personal letters that Caroline F. Putnam, an antislavery activist and schoolteacher, wrote to Sallie Holley and Emily Howland, her colleagues and friends, between 1868 and around 1877. Putnam described the everyday challenges of running a school for freed slaves in Lottsburg, Virginia, as well as Reconstruction politics in the postwar South.

This collection (111 items) contains personal letters that antislavery activist and schoolteacher Caroline F. Putnam wrote to Sallie Holley and Emily Howland, her colleagues and friends, between October 22, 1868, and 1877. Putnam described the everyday challenges of running a freedmen's school in Lottsburg, Virginia, as well as Reconstruction politics in the postwar South.

In her earliest letters, Putnam discussed an upcoming trip to Virginia; her impressions of Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.; and the opening of the Holley School in Lottsburg Virginia, in 1868. Most letters pertain to her life and work at the Holley School, the administrative aspects of running the school, and the numerous struggles faced by her students, mostly freed slaves and their children. On November 21, 1868, she described classroom conditions on one particularly cold evening, encouraged other educated women to help educate former slaves, and favorably compared her students to their white counterparts. Her letters to Holley often mention the work of Emily Howland, who ran a similar school in Heathsville, Virginia, until 1870. In her later letters, Putnam addressed the positive and negative responses to the school from members of the community, such as the moving reflection of an African American preacher overwhelmed by seeing children from his community coming home from school, as only white children had been able to do before the war (November 21, 1868).

Putnam also wrote about local politics and the Grant administration. For example, she addressed one letter to Senator Charles Sumner, congratulating him on his efforts to prevent disenfranchisement of freedmen (December 25, 1869). She read widely, and her letters often contained references to both local and national newspapers.

Additional material includes a printed invitation from Booker T. Washington to the Fourth Annual Session of the Tuskegee Negro Conference (ca. 1895), and several fragments.


Clinton H. Haskell Civil War collection, 1841-1895

120 items

Clinton H. Haskell Civil War collection contains miscellaneous letters, military orders, telegrams, and documents related to the Civil War.

Clinton H. Haskell Civil War collection (120 items) contains miscellaneous letters, military orders, telegrams, and documents related to the Civil War from 1843 to 1895. The bulk of the collection is comprised of letters written by army officers and politicians, both Union and Confederate, during and after the Civil War.


David Porter and David Dixon Porter papers, 1803-1889

4 linear feet

David Porter and David Dixon Porter papers (4 linear feet) contain the letters and writings of two American naval officers who served in the 1st Barbary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. Included are official and family letters, as well as David D. Porter's manuscript drafts of his history and fiction works.

David Porter and David Dixon Porter papers (4 linear feet) contain the letters and writings of two American naval officers who served in the 1st Barbary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. Included are official and family letters, as well as David D. Porter's manuscript drafts of his history and fiction works.

The David Porter Correspondence series (231 items) contains Porter's incoming and outgoing letters covering 1805 to 1840, most of which deal with his naval service during the War of 1812, and his West Indian patrol duty, with some items documenting his time in the Mexican Navy and his diplomatic career. Present are seven items related to his time in the Mediterranean during the First Barbary War, eight letters from Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith during Porter's service in command of the United States Gun Boats at New Orleans prior to the War of 1812, and 15 War of 1812 era letters from Isaac Hull concerning his interest in administrative improvements in the navy. Other topics include the release of officers and crew of the U.S. Essex, Porter's relationship with the Carrera brothers and support for Chilean independence, and Porter's command of the West India Squadron (1823-1825).

Items of note include:
  • March 10, 1809: Edward Livingston to David Porter requesting an opinion of his proposed improvements to the harbor of New Orleans
  • September 21, 1812: John Stricker to David Porter announcing the safe arrival of the Prize brig Lamprey, captured by Porter on July 13, 1812
  • May 3, 1824: Cecilio Ayllon, military governor of Cuba, to Porter concerning the disrespectful and damaging conduct of American sailors at a woman's property near Matanzas, Cuba
  • January 1843: George Read's naval order and an order of the procession, with diagram, for David Porter's funeral
  • April 24, 1843: Abel P. Upshaw's general order concerning the death of David Porter

The David D. Porter Correspondence series contains Porter's incoming and outgoing letters between 1845 and 1889. These include few letters from early in his naval career, 26 Civil War era letters, and many peacetime letters with fellow naval officers and government officials. Also of importance are 24 letters dealing with the 1889 Benjamin Butler controversy, along with typescripts of material related to the court. Other family papers include 3 items to Evelina Porter and a small number of late 19th and 20th century material concerning the naval career of Theodoric Porter.

Items of note include:
  • January 10, 1847: David P. Porter's "Last will and testament"
  • June 18, 1854: C.J. Latrobe to David D. Porter, Bay of Panama, concerning gratitude to Porter from the passengers on the Golden Age, the first steam ship crossing of the pacific to Panama
  • March 23, 1855: Harry S. Wayne to David D. Porter, concerning introducing camels for use in U.S.
  • August 25, 1861: G.H. Heap to his brother-in-law David D. Porter describing pre-war excitement in Washington D.C.
  • June 1, 1862: Letter to David D. Porter planning an assault on the mouth of the Mississippi River
  • September 6, 1862: Edward Hooker to David D. Porter recounting the naval engagement of the Louisiana
  • June 5, 1863-May 30, 1865: 11 letters to or regarding David Dixon Porter and the Mississippi Squadron. Two of these letters refer to African Americans, including contraband (December 1, 1863) and "peddlers" (April 23, 1864).
  • September 28, 1864: David D. Porter's general order for the Mississippi Squadron announcing his leave of office
  • January 7, 1879 and April 21, 1889: William Tecumseh Sherman to David D. Porter discussing memories of Sherman's brother, Porter's current naval activities, and social engagements
  • August 8, 1879: Fragment report on the construction of the Danish ironclad Helgoland
  • March 3, 1884: Ulysses S. Grant to David Porter describing the state of Grant's health

The David D. Porter Manuscript Writings series is comprised of drafts and fragments of Porter's literary and historical works, novels, essays, speeches, and biographical notes.

These include:
  • Two autobiographical manuscripts, parts 1, 2, and 3 of My Career in the Navy Department and portions of a journal describing his Civil War experiences
  • Draft of an adventure story
  • Pages 353-474 of a novel
  • Notes on the Civil War, in particular the Vicksburg campaign and the Red River Expedition, and Sherman and Lincoln, for his book The Naval History of the Civil War
  • "Extracts from my Journal made for General Badeau, when he was writing the life of General Grant. These are a little fuller than the Journal"
  • Sketch of the career of D. D. Porter in the Mexican War (1870s)
  • Report concerning a 1873 North Western Texas Land and Copper Expedition
  • Various naval reports: Fleet Tactics, Report of the Board on injuries received by the Hyascar in the action of October 8, 1879, a "List of Vessels of the Chinese Navy and Custom Service" with details on class, tonnage, guns, carriages, number of men, horse power, location built, and construction material (1864-1877)

The Miscellaneous Documents series consists of newspaper clippings, a David D. Porter article entitled "The Opening of the Lower Mississippi, April 1862," a color map of Fort Jackson, and a schematic diagram of torpedo machinery designed for the tugboat Nina (May 1869).


Davis E. Castle journals, 1864-1865

2 volumes

Davis Castle's journals provide information on his service in the Signal Corps of the Army of the Potomac.

Davis Castle's journal provides limited information on his service in the Signal Corps of the Army of the Potomac. The document is made up of brief entries, at times illegible handwriting, and empty pages. Castle tended to report second hand information rather than his own experiences.

On the first "Memoranda" page following December 31, 1865, is a list of births in Davis Castle's immediate family. The pages dated November 1, 1864 and August 25, 1865 contain coded passages.


Doctor Tarbell and Mary Conant papers, 1864-1881 (majority within 1864-1865)

113 items

This collection consists of 113 letters, written primarily between Union soldier Doctor Tarbell and his fiancée, and later, wife, Mary Lucy Conant. Doctor served as a Sergeant in New York's 32nd Infantry, Co. A, and as a Lieutenant, Captain, and Brevet Major in the Commissary Regiment, U.S. Volunteers.

The Doctor Tarbell and Mary Conant papers are comprised of 112 letters, written primarily between Union soldier Doctor Tarbell and his fiancée (and later wife), Mary Lucy Conant, and one genealogical document. Doctor served as a sergeant in the New York 32nd Infantry, Co. A, and as a lieutenant, captain, and brevet major in the U.S. Volunteers. The collection covers Doctor’s war-time service in the Union Army and some of his post-war career. The Civil War letters form a remarkably dense series that highlights the intimate relationship of Tarbell and his fiancée Mary. The collection contains 35 letters from Doctor to Mary, and 46 letters from Mary to Doctor, mainly during 1864 and 1865. Additionally, Doctor wrote one letter to his parents T. B. and Lydia Tarbell, and received two letters from them and two from his siblings. The remaining 29 letters are either from relatives of Mary or they pertain to post-war activities of the Tarbells.

Both Tarbell and his fiancée wrote in an educated and literary style; their letters reveal an affectionate relationship. Between January and February 1864, both Tarbell and Conant wrote almost exclusively about their relationship. However, as the Army of the Potomac moved south, both writers began to focus more on the progress of the war and to assume a more fervently patriotic tone. Many of Mary's letters contain political asides ("Does the Army weary of Gen. Meade, or is it politicians & aspirants that wish to oust him?" March 13, 1864); references to life at home during wartime; and several extended lyrical passages and pro-Union sentiments. Tarbell's responses, which were also substantive and descriptive, often referred to military matters, his work as a commissary, and army morale.

At times, Tarbell's patriotism and pride in his commission shine through, as during his company's inspection by General Ulysses S. Grant (April 18, 1864). Tarbell described the journey down to Richmond, his regiment's movements, what he knew of the progress of the war, the actions of the 6th Cavalry Corps, and his encounters with southern civilians. He wrote to both Mary and his parents from Danville Military Prison, expressing his hopes that an exchange of officers was imminent (October 22, 1864, and November 20, 1864). After his release, he recounted the parades in Washington, D.C. following the ending of the war, and the review of General Sherman’s Army (May 25, 1865). On July 28, 1865, he mentioned his promotion to brevet major.

The 5 letters written to Mary during Tarbell's imprisonment are filled with sympathy and encouragement, along with family news. In a letter from Mary's young niece, Hattie Carpenter, she described the return of soldiers to Iowa (January 15, 1865). Mary A. E. Wages wrote to Miss Hardy requesting funds to establish a freedman's high school in Richmond: "The black people of Richmond are the only loyal people in the whole city...They not only need help, but are worthy objects of it" (Nov. 18, 1866).

The 13 letters from 1881 suggest that the Tarbells were in some unspecified financial difficulty, and that Doctor had been employed as a typewriter agent. The remaining 10 letters were written by Tarbell or Conant relatives and friends.

This collection also contains one genealogical document that lists the birth and marriage dates for members of the Conant and Tarbell families (1793-1884). Included is a list of Doctor and Mary Tarbell's children. This document is undated and unattributed.


Eaton-Shirley family papers, 1790-1939 (majority within 1850-1906)

1,903 items (5 linear feet)

The Eaton-Shirley family papers consist of personal diaries, correspondence, military papers, legal and business documents, printed materials, and photographs. A primary figure in the collection, John Eaton, Jr., was Civil War Superintendent of the Freedmen and later Commissioner of Education under Grant. The papers also contains substantial material from other Eaton family members, including military papers and correspondence of his brother, Lucien B. Eaton, and papers of the Shirley family (the family of John Eaton, Jr.’s wife, Alice E. Shirley).

The Eaton papers consist of 1,903 items, dating from September 1790 to July 30, 1939. The bulk of the collection falls between 1850 and 1906. The papers contain 318 letters, 9 diaries/journals, 60 personal documents of John Eaton Jr., 275 legal documents and business papers, 112 military documents, 923 photographs, 84 printed items, and 122 miscellaneous items.

The majority of the correspondence is personal and relates to family matters. The 168 letters of John Eaton, Jr., contain extensive biographical information. Of particular interest are 44 Civil War-era letters including information about the freedmen, three letters pertaining to the publication of The Post, and two with content regarding the Ku Klux Klan. The collection also contains 22 letters to and from Alice (Shirley) Eaton, 31 letters to and from Lucien Eaton, and 32 miscellaneous letters from members of the Eaton family. Of the 30 letters written by Alice Eaton's parents (James and Adelaine Shirley), 10 letters regard compensation for the damage done to the Shirley House during the Civil War. Various other members of the Shirley family wrote 15 letters, and 20 letters are from other people unrelated to the Eaton and Shirley families.

John Eaton Jr.’s aunt, Ruth Dodge Eaton, wrote two diaries which consist almost entirely of Christian hymns and essays. John Eaton Jr.'s uncle, Horace Eaton, wrote one diary that contains Christian material written while he attended Dartmouth College. John Eaton, Jr., wrote two diaries, one of which he wrote as a youth, and the other as a student at Dartmouth. Other journals include two by John Eaton Jr.'s brothers, Frederick and Charles, and a household account book, kept by his sister Christina. Of particular importance is Alice Shirley’s diary, in which she described pre-civil war tensions between the north and the south, speculation on the upcoming Siege of Vicksburg, the early stages of the Siege of Vicksburg, and very personal feelings regarding her marriage to John Eaton, Jr.

The 60 personal papers of John Eaton Jr. include 17 documents regarding his appointments and titles, two documents about freedmen, and 41 miscellaneous address cards and invitations (including an invitation to the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge).

Of the 275 legal papers, 74 documents pertain to the sale of land in Mississippi; 7 concern Robert M. Jones’s claim to Choctaw Nation lands; and 25 relate to estate papers, deeds of trust and documents about the proceedings of Adelaine Shirley’s post-war relief claims; and a receipt for the sale of an African American woman. The remaining 176 legal papers are miscellaneous financial documents, such as tax documents, checks, and receipts.

Of the 112 military documents, 58 pertain to John Eaton, Jr., 7 of which are about freedmen. The military documents of Lucien B. Eaton number 54.

The 923 photographs consist of six photo albums, 31 cased daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, 144 cabinet cards, and 421 loose photographs and snapshots all depicting members of the Eaton and Shirley families, scenic locations, and the Shirley House.

Of the 84 printed items in the collection, 49 newspaper clippings pertain to the occupational and personal activities of John Eaton, Jr., and 9 miscellaneous clippings relate to the Eaton family. The remaining 26 items are published pamphlets, including addresses and reports concerning John Eaton, Jr.; a sermon written by Horace Eaton; a report of proceedings of an Ohio Brigade reunion; an Anti-Slavery Almanac from 1838; and an incomplete piece describing the history and restoration of the Shirley House.

The 122 miscellaneous papers of the John Eaton, Jr., collection consist of 53 recipes and 69 miscellaneous items including a partial autobiography of Alice Eaton.


George W. Hunt papers, 1864-1907 (majority within 1864-1865)

2 journals; memoir; carte de visite album; miscellaneous items

The George Hunt papers include two pocket diaries kept by Hunt during his service in the 15th New York Cavalry, a memoir, "Custer and his Red Necks: A brief Sketch of incidents of the Civil War of 61 & 65," written at least a decade later, and a pocket-sized carte de visite album containing photographs of Hunt and fellow cavalry members.

The George Hunt papers include two pocket diaries kept by Hunt during his service in the 15th New York Cavalry and a memoir, "Custer and his Red Necks: A brief Sketch of incidents of the Civil War of 61 & 65," written at least a decade later. The diaries consist of terse entries that provide few details about battles and events.

In contrast, his memoir is fully fleshed out and filled with anecdotes and patriotic flourishes, suggesting that in writing this account, he may have relied as much on printed works as on his own notes and memory. "Custer and his Red Necks" has the earmarks of an address written for a veterans' reunion, and was clearly written after Custer's death. Slightly over half of the memoir concerns Custer's early life and military experience before Hunt's regiment were placed under his command. Hunt was enamored of the dashing figure cut by Custer, and the memoir is celebratory of the man and his achievements.

The collection also includes several other items, including Hunt's pocket-sized carte de visite album, containing photographs of Hunt, fellow members of the 15th New York Cavalry, and selected generals, including Grant and Sheridan; a pocket New Testament; an Ithaca Trust company notebook containing miscellaneous notes (1907); and a file of newspaper clippings relating to veterans' reunions.


Griffin family papers, 1799-1942 (majority within 1835-1868)

47 items

The Griffin family papers contain the letters of a family from Sempronius, New York, and are comprised primarily of correspondence from Lavalette and Reynolds Griffin while serving with the 75th New York Volunteers during the Civil War.

The Griffin family papers contain the letters of the Griffin Family of Sempronius, New York, and are comprised primarily of correspondence from Lavalette and Reynolds Griffin while serving with the 75th New York Volunteers during the Civil War. The collection is composed of 20 letters, 4 miscellaneous compositions, 2 newspaper clippings, and 16 photographs and negatives.

The Correspondence series contains 20 letters, four of which date before the war. The earliest letter is from a group of men, including Daniel Griffin, to their landlord requesting that their credit be extended, because of a bad harvest (1799). The next two are between Adnah H. Griffin and Ephraim, Louisa and Jane Griffin, and concern family issues (1835). Gideon Wales (resident of Pike Pond, [New Hampshire]) wrote a letter to Jennie L. McConnell, in which he discussed many of his relative's struggles with mental illness.

The Civil War letters are from brothers Lavalette and Reynolds Griffin and are primarily addressed to their parents, Adnah H. Griffin and Jane Reynolds Griffin, and their sisters Loretta and Jennie Griffith. The letters were written from several camps in Virginia and Louisiana, and from on board the ship Daniel Webster. The bulk of the letters are in a 103-page letterbook dated October 1861-March 1863. These letters were likely copied by a relative around 1900. Both brothers were competent writers and discussed typical soldier gripes regarding food, pay, bad officers, and the boredom of the army. In a letter from December 30, 1862, Lavalette wrote: "If you want to fix a man so that he does not know anything in this world, nor care a d__m for the next, just put him to soldiering, and keep him shut up in camp for one year."

Seven separate Civil War letters are from Lavalette Griffin, dated April 1862-February 1865, and addressed to his father and sister Loretta ("Rett"). In these, he wrote favorably of the New York Soldiers' Depot, which he found well managed with many amenities for the troops. In an April 1864 letter, he recounted a trip to the capital while stationed at Camp Distribution, Virginia. In the next letter, he spoke highly of General Grant: "One thing is in our favor Since General Grant has assumed command there is not so many shoulder straps lying round Washington and there papers are examined as closely as the meanest private -- There is scarcely a day that there is not some dismissals and there aught to be more[.]" Even after the loss of his brother and his own illnesses, Lavalette found a way to keep his good humor through the war.

The lone post-war letter (1868) is an interesting item from Jennie Griffin to her brother-in-law Silas McConnell, in which she complained about the difference between salaries for male and female teachers in New York.

The Miscellaneous series has 13 items, which include two newspaper clippings; 4 pages of family birth records (1780-1878) from the family Bible; two journals by Mary Jane Wilson, which are entitled Compositions Written by Mary Jane Wilson During the Summer of 1861, A present to her Teacher Jennie Griffin (14 pages), and The Scholar's Casket, A Journal of Councils and Companion for the Young, January 1862, containing amateur essays such as Being Honest, Fault Finding, and Courage; two essays entitled On the Death of Lois Jane Griffin and On the Death of Polly Griffin, Written for her Mother (3 pages); and a receipt for groceries from Syracuse, New York, 1915.

This collection contains 11 photographs and modern prints of 5 negatives of the Griffin family. The original photographs are located in the Clements Library Graphics Division.


James Forsyth papers, 1851-1881

0.25 linear feet

The James Forsyth papers contain letters, primarily from Forsyth's colleagues in the military during and after the Civil War. Items include an important series of letters between Forsyth and Philip H. Sheridan, in which they discuss their political and military opinions.

The James Forsyth papers (61 items) contain 47 letters and documents, primarily from Forsyth's colleagues in the military; 1 copy of a diary and 2 eye-witness accounts of military engagements; and 6 printed items and ephemera.

Eight letters relate to the Civil War, including an important series of items between Forsyth and Sheridan. Twenty-one items date from after the war (1866-1868) and provide information about Washington and military politics, including letters from Sheridan and George Armstrong Custer. Twelve letters were written while Forsyth accompanied Sheridan to Europe as an aide-de-camp, including a telegraph from Otto von Bismarck, which is a brief telegram in German to Sheridan.

The Diary and Personal Accounts series contains material from Europe including an incomplete eyewitness account of the Battle of Sedan (September 1, 1870); an incomplete account of the surrender of Napoleon III after the Battle of Sedan (recounting September 2, 1870, but written in 1881); and a 68-page diary of his observation of the Franco-Prussian War from German lines, including the Battle of Sedan in 1870.

The Printed items include a West Point Roll of the Cadets for the year 1846, lists of Fourth Class members in 1846 and 1852, and an Official Army Register for September 1861. Ephemera include an official bridge and ferry pass (1864), Forsyth's 1870 passport, and a complementary Union Pacific Railroad pass to board a special train bringing the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia and party from Omaha to McPherson Station in Nebraska, for a "Grand Buffalo Hunt," under direction of Lieutenant General P. H. Sheridan.


James K. Hale papers, 1862-1865

28 items

This collection consists of letters written by James K. Hale sent to his brother George Hale while serving in the 106th New York Volunteers during the Civil War. The letters document the movements and viewpoints of a soldier in this regiment.

This collection consists of 28 letters written by James K. Hale, which he sent to his brother George Hale while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. The letters cover the entire existence of the 106th New York Volunteers and document the movements and viewpoints of a soldier in this regiment. Little personal information was offered outside of discussions of health and comments that he had received letters from Rosina.

In the letters, Hale openly discussed his superior officers, his interactions with other regiments, daily troop movements and battles, army life, and life in a field hospital. In a letter from October 1862, he mentioned that "Mulligan’s regiment are a hard lot of men." In December 1862, he described secondhand reports of a skirmish at Winchester, resulting in 7 prisoners and 12 Union deaths. In a particularly interesting letter from February 2, 1863, Hale expressed a bleak outlook for the outcome of the war, based on the Union's failures in the major battles thus far. Another item from August 1863 contains a vivid description of skirmishing at Manassas in late July 1863.

Hale wrote letters from November 22, 1863, and after from the Central Park Hospital in New York City, after he was shot with a musket ball in the ankle. He remained, however, in good spirits and health: "It is nothing but a flesh wound." While letters from this period record typical life in an army hospital, Hale noted some interesting details. For instance, in a December 28, 1863, letter, he described surgeons "putting on an artificial jaw on a man which is a great thing if they can make it work." He returned to his regiment in late March 1864. In his letter of June 19, 1863, Hale briefly commented on the siege of Petersburg happening in the background and ruminated on the merits of McClellan versus those of Grant. He praised the new Union leadership:

"…the men have great confidence in both Grant and Mead[.] They both keep close along in the front. I do not think Gen Butler has shown himself to be the greatest Gen. that ever was[.] I think he will do better for military Gov than he will for Gen. We have had three Brigade commanders wounded in our Brigade and our corps commander was killed[.] there has been a great many officers killed and wounded which is done by the sharpshooters in trees and other places" (June 19, 1864).

Hale wrote about other Union generals and discussed the merits and drawbacks of their battle strategies. In later letters, he described the progress of the 106th New York toward Richmond and looked forward to the end of the war. The last dated letter of May 21 [1865], briefly describes the reactions of soldiers to Lincoln’s assassination. "Even a greater portion of the South consider it an act beneath the dignity of any true man..."