This collection (86 items) consists of 3 groups of letters between members of the Burbank family of Medford, Massachusetts. William Henry and Edwin C. Burbank wrote to their mother and siblings while serving in the 5th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment in Washington, D.C.; Alexandria, Virginia; and New Bern, North Carolina, from 1861-1863 (42 items); Edwin C. Burbank wrote to his mother and sisters while living in Paris, France, in 1867 (11 items); and Ida Burbank wrote home about her life on Cumberland Island, Georgia, during the winter of 1882-1883 (31 items). The collection also includes a personal letter to Edwin Burbank (June 8, 1867) and an unsigned letter (November 22, ).
William Henry Burbank wrote 33 and his brother Edwin wrote 9 of the 42 Civil War-era letters (April 28, 1861-June 17, 1863). William's first letters pertain to his service with the 5th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment in and around Washington, D.C., in 1861, including his observations about martial law in and the desertion of Alexandria, Virginia, and his recollections of the First Battle of Bull Run (July 23, 1861). Both brothers' later letters concern their experiences with the 5th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment in and around New Bern, North Carolina, from 1862-1863. The Burbanks described New Bern and its black population, reported casualties, and discussed the possibility of finding their brother Oscar a military job. Some of their letters, particularly Edwin's, recount Confederate attacks, Union Army expeditions, battles during the Goldsboro campaign, as well as attempts to relieve Confederate pressure on Washington, D.C. William's letter of March 16, 1863, contains a manuscript map of Union lines and encampments around New Bern. A few of the letters are addressed to the Burbank sisters.
The remaining correspondence includes 11 letters that Edwin C. Burbank wrote to his mother and sisters while traveling to and living in Paris, France, from March 29, 1867-September 29, 1867; his first letter is dated at Glasgow, Scotland. He commented on his travels, his life in Paris, and the Exposition Universelle. The final group of letters concerns Ida Burbank's leisure activities on Cumberland Island, Georgia, and her travels to Brunswick and other nearby locales. She provided news of the relatives she stayed with during her time in the South, discussed life in Georgia, mentioned ships traveling to and from the mainland, and described visits to the beach. Three of her letters enclose newspaper clippings and dried flowers.