Civil War Items
May 13, 2011
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
Walt Whitman’s poem of 1865 commemorates the assassination of the Union President Abraham Lincoln just days after General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. John Wilkes Booth’s attempt to rally the Confederate cause was ineffective. Lincoln’s efforts to reunify the nation and abolish slavery would not be undone by the assassin. The L. Tom Perry Special Collections has amassed a great number of items pertaining to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.
The collection includes handwritten documents from a number of military leaders from both the Union and the Confederacy, including Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, P.G.T. Beauregard, William Tecumseh Sherman, Albert Pike, George A. Custer (more famous for the Indian Wars), and Ambrose Everett Burnside. We also have newspapers, photos, and correspondence from various families during the Civil War. We also own many photographs of members of the 77th New York Volunteer Infantry, some of which are on display as you enter the Special Collections (1130 HBLL).
The Library has many publications from abolitionist authors, including Louisa May Alcott and Frederick Douglass. We have many rare editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin including a first edition. We also have a first edition of Frederick Douglass’ autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. After the Civil War there were hundreds of interviews of former slaves conducted. These interviews were part of the Federal Writer’s Project in the 1930s. The library has a microfilm collection of nearly 400 of these interviews documenting life as a slave, the war, and emancipation.
As we look back 150 years to the events of the Civil War we will be featuring materials from our collections that document this decisive time. We hope you’ll stop by periodically to see our small exhibit of Civil War items. We are located on the first floor of the Harold B. Lee Library.