U.S. Civil War journal, Nov. 1861 – Feb. 1862, page 7
Staff at Fondren are continuing their work to help the Woodson improve access to the hundreds of manuscripts in the Rice Digital Scholarship Archive (scholarship.rice.edu). The manuscript above is from one of four notebooks, written in the hand of Albert Sherrad Campbell at St. Louis, Missouri, covering the early months of the U.S. Civil War. Included are descriptions of battles and other political and military events.
As of the end of the year, 332 transcriptions (59% of the project total) are now online in the IR. Another 151 transcriptions (26% of the project total) are in the final review process. Many thanks to the staff in Technical Services, Access Services, Reference and Library Administration who volunteered for the project and made this possible.
As a reminder, most of the materials transcribed were chosen to provide resources useful for the Rice University Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, & Racial Injustice. Many of these documents date from the U.S. Civil War and touch on the authors’ opinions at the time on slavery and political issues. It should also be noted that these specific Civil War collections include voices of white authors, and there is a gap in our Civil War collections of African American voices.
Many of our online exhibits previously lived at the same URL exhibits.library.rice.edu. We have wanted to move each of the exhibits to a unique URL, but were unable to find the time for it in addition to our other duties. In our remote working environment, nit-picky work like creating unique banners, checking URLs, and updating out of date information became much easier to do.
You’ll find information on Dick Dowling, the Abbie Hoffman Incident, and U.S. Civil War Narratives, along with other exhibits that focus on Rice history, local history, and rare books.
Any new online exhibits and story maps will be added to that page. Have fun!
As part of our work from home, staff at Fondren are working to help the Woodson improve access to the hundreds of manuscripts in the Rice Digital Scholarship Archive (scholarship.rice.edu).
Volunteers for the project include staff in Technical Services, Access Services, Reference and Library Administration. With hard work and enthusiasm the team has fully transcribed over 50 historical manuscripts so far. The transcriptions improve access for all our patrons, and enable scholars to more easily use the materials for research purposes such as text mining and geospatial mapping.
Many of the first materials transcribed were chosen to provide resources useful for the Rice University Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, & Racial Injustice. Many of these letters date from the U.S. Civil War and touch on the authors’ opinions at the time on slavery and political issues. It should also be noted that these specific Civil War collections include voices of white authors, and there is a gap in our Civil War collections of African American voices.
Letter from Edwin Fosha to daughter, 1863, wrc07860
As you can see from the examples, having a transcription included with the pdf of the original letter will make research significantly easier; the letters and their transcriptions can be found using the titles beneath each letter as the search term in the Digital Scholarship Archive.
There are many interesting documents in the Kuntz Louisiana Civil War Collection, which was purchased by Fondren Library from Civil War collector, Felix H. Kuntz, in 1967. One of the coolest items in the collection is a letter written to Francis Preston Blair Sr. in 1865.
F.P. Blair was deeply involved in national politics in the early to mid-19th century. Though a slave holder and member of the Democratic Party early on, he opposed the expansion of slavery and left the Democratic Party to help establish the Republican Party in 1854.
Blair was a close advisor to President Lincoln during the Civil War but, as a native of Virginia, he was also close to many Confederate leaders, which made him ideal to be a go-between for both sides.
A letter written to Blair from Jefferson Davis on January 12, 1865, asked Blair to find out if Lincoln would be open to receiving a Confederate representative to discuss “a view to secure peace to the two countries.”
Lincoln responded to Blair six days later, on the same paper, that he had always been open to receiving any representative “with the view of securing peace to the people of our common country.”
It seems Davis was quite angry that Lincoln used the “our common country” thing.
After more negotiations, agents were selected to represent both sides and the Hampton Roads Conference occurred on February 3, 1865, in Virginia. Unfortunately, no peace deal came out of the conference. The war officially drug on – beyond General Lee’s surrender to General Grant at Appomattox April 9, 1865 – until August 1866 when President Johnson formally declared the war to be over.
2017 was an incredibly busy year for the Woodson. It included completing an inventory of all of our rare books, creating new online and physical exhibits, growing our fine arts and Jewish history collections, exhibiting the history of Camp Logan, placing the KTRU Rice Radio archive online, co-hosting the Houston Folk Music Archive Celebration with the Friends of Fondren Library, participating in the Oh Project collection, and helping our Fondren Fellow discover and map the hidden bits of information in our Civil War diaries.
Here’s some of what’s coming up in 2018:
We’re continuing our participation in the OSSArcFlow project to improve our digital preservation workflows and discoverability.
We’re going to be the home base for the Harvey Memories Project. This multi-institutional group will working to document the stories, images, audio, and video related to Hurricane Harvey. We will be taking the lead in digitally preserving any donated items.
Starting last year, we began working on our legacy media backlog. Over the past few months, the old floppies and zip disks have been preserved. Soon, our finding aids will contain descriptions of the files contained on that media.
As we complete some of the projects above and add new ones, we’ll update you on the results. Here’s to a great 2018.
This series of maps uses ArcGIS to highlight some of the WRC’s numerous Civil War collections (1861-1865). Researchers can now explore the multiple geographies of over 300 Civil War-era letters. From military operations to disease to courtship, these maps convey the potential of our archives’ diverse stories. You can, for example, follow the particular route of a soldier in the Army of the Potomac through his letters or explore the communication in and out of a single city. Use filters to see where men and women were discussing slavery, politics, battles, or military medicine.
Visit the website to take a tour of these maps. Or, if you are familiar with ArcGIS, scroll to the website’s last page to go directly to our two feature maps.
View the connections between where letters from each collection were sent and received.
Or look at individual locations to see where letters were written, where they were received, and what locations the authors mentioned within their letters during four years of war.
You can explore the collections by mutual themes, as well. See where authors discussed battles, politics, or particular officers.
Part of an ongoing effort under the new Fondren Fellows program, we expect to continue to grow and evolve this project as more and more of the WRC’s collections are added.
We want to thank Christina Regelski, our Fondren Fellow, for all of her hard work over the fall semester. She did more with our letters than we could have imagined.
Scot Huntington did not start doing research on Dr. Smith’s war career or his groundbreaking medical writings because he studied Civil War history or was a descendant. Instead Huntington found his name (“Cyrus Burnett Smith pumped this organ” 1850-1854) inscribed on the biggest pipe of an organ that Huntington and others had taken apart to restore.
Because of that bit of graffiti from young Smith, Huntington tracked down the man’s origins. Smith originally from North Hadley, Massachusetts attended Berkshire Medical School and graduated in 1859. His graduation thesis became an important text in the 19th century. He outlined the proper way to administer chloroform without asphyxiating the patient.*
Dr. Smith joined the 34th Massachusetts Volunteers in 1862 as Assistant Surgeon. On March 15, 1865, he accepted a commission as Surgeon in the 11th Massachusetts Volunteers, spending most of the Civil War in hospitals in Virginia and the Maryland/D. C. area. He was discharged in Washington D. C. July 31, 1865. After accomplishing so much, poor Dr. Smith died in a fire after his house was struck by lightning at the age of 40.
The Woodson’s latest online exhibit highlights the lives and times of the James Lockhart Autry family. “Autry Family from the Alamo to Rice University” describes the journey of 4 generations of the Autry family. Included are digitized letters written by Micajah Autry who travelled west from Tennessee to seek out new opportunities in Texas and joined the Texas Revolution. The letters written by Autry to his wife describe the fighting with Mexico. Micajah Autry would fight and die at the Alamo. For his service, Anson Jones, President of the Republic of Texas presented his widow 1,920 acres in Navarro County, Texas. His grandson, James Lockhart Autry II would come to Texas as a young man to study the law and maintain the land.
James Lockhart Autry II would become an influential lawyer and align himself with the burgeoning oil industry in Texas. He was secretary, director, and general attorney for The Texas Company (now Texaco). His family would become prominent Houstonians and lifelong supporters of Rice University. The exhibit includes photographs of Autry House, the first “student center” at Rice, a community house gifted by the family as a place for all students and faculty to gather.
This digitized material forms part of a larger physical collection accessible at Fondren Library, which includes business papers, correspondence, photographs and memorabilia related to the James Lockhart Autry family of Texas (1875-present) and of North Carolina (1832), Tennessee (1824-1840) and Mississippi (1840-1875). These materials show the life style of a family who moved into Texas and played an important role in developing both the social and economic framework of Houston. Finding aid to the collection is available at: http://library.rice.edu/collections/WRC/finding-aids/manuscripts/0003
Part of our physical collection includes a wide array of journals, diaries, and log books. We have digitized some of these, most notably from the Civil War era. There are four notebooks from Albert Sherrad Campbell who describes battles and other military events in Missouri, Virginia, and Maryland. Although we only know where Campbell was from, based on his opening epigraph by George Washington, he was a Union supporter.
We also have Alexander Hobbs’ diary and his sketch of Galveston harbor. In addition to reporting the Battle of Galveston, he tells what he did on Thanksgiving in 1862.
Finally, we have John C. Crosby’s diary that details his time in the Union army as part of the Seventh Maine Regiment. Instead of writing about battles, he focuses on life inside a hospital, where he might have been an orderly. His diary also records his life post-war as a farm worker.