|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Sunday, January 22, 2017
|From New England to the South, Civil War's 150th anniversay stirs a trove of memories |
This photograph provided by the Library of Virginia William Henry Taylor, left, and Stephen Stewart, members of the 11th Virginia Infantry. The photograph is among the 25,000 mementoes the Library of Virginia has scanned as archivists travel the state seeking documents, letters and diaries dating to the Civil War. Virginia is among a number of states attempting to collect Civil War documents that are in the possession of families, tucked away in trunks and attics. AP Photo/Courtesy of the Library of Virginia.
By: Steve Szkotak, Associated Press
RICHMOND, VA (AP).- A diary with a lifesaving bullet hole from Gettysburg. An intricate valentine crafted by a Confederate soldier for the wife he would never see again. A slave's desperate escape to freedom.
From New England to the South, state archivists are using the sesquicentennial of the Civil War to collect a trove of wartime letters, diaries, documents and mementoes that have gathered dust in attics and basements.
This still-unfolding call will help states expand existing collections on the Civil War and provide new insights into an era that violently wrenched a nation apart, leaving 600,000 dead. Much of the Civil War has been told primarily through the eyes of battlefield and political leaders.
These documents are adding a new narrative to the Civil War's story, offering insights into the home front and of soldiers, their spouses and African-Americans, often in their own words.
Historians, who will have access to the centralized digital collections, are excited by the prospect of what the states are finding and will ultimately share.
"I think now we're broadening the story to include everybody not just a soldier, not a general or a president just somebody who found themselves swept up in the biggest drama in American life," says University of Richmond President Edward Ayers, a Civil War expert. "That's what's so cool."
In Virginia, archivists have borrowed from the popular PBS series "Antiques Roadshow," traveling weekends throughout the state and asking residents to share family collections, which are scanned and added to the already vast collection at the Library of Virginia.
Started in September 2010, the Civil War 150 Legacy Project has collected 25,000 images.
Virginians have been generous, knowing they can share their long-held mementos without surrendering them, said Laura Drake Davis and Renee Savits, the Library of Virginia archivists who have divided the state for their on-the-road collection campaign.
"They think someone can learn from them rather than just sitting in their cupboards," Savits said of the family possessions. "And they're proud to share their family's experience."
Patricia Bangs heeded the call when a friend told her about the project. She had inherited 400 letters passed down through the years between Cecil A. Burleigh to his wife, Caroline, in Mount Carmel, Conn.
"I felt this would be useful to researchers, a treasure to somebody," said Bangs, who works for the library system in Fairfax, Va. In one letter, she said, Cecil writes of Union troops traveling from Connecticut to Washington, crowds cheering them along the way.
The letters, like many collected by archivists, are difficult to read. Many are spelled phonetically, and the penmanship can be hard to decipher. Typically, they tell of the story of the home front and its daily deprivations.
Researchers in Tennessee, a battleground state in the war, teamed up with Virginia archivists earlier this year in the border town of Bristol. Both states have seen their share of bullets, swords and other military hardware.
"We have grandmothers dragging in swords and muskets," said Chuck Sherrill, Tennessee state librarian and archivist.
Documents are fished from attics, pressed between the pages of family bibles and stored in trunks.
Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and many other states have similar programs, or at least are trying to gather materials for use by scholars and regular folks.
Pennsylvania has been especially ambitious in adding new layers to the state's deep links to the Civil War, including a traveling exhibit called the "PA Civil War Road Show." The 53-foot-long museum on wheels also invites visitors to share their ancestors' stories and artifacts in a recording booth. The remembrances will be uploaded on the website PACivilWar150.com.
One visitor brought in a bugle that an ancestor was blowing when he was fatally shot at the Battle of Gettysburg.
"He wouldn't let anyone touch it," said John Seitter, project manager of the Pennsylvania Civil War project. "It shows you how deeply these artifacts connect people with the Civil War. There's some serious memorialization going on here."
The George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at Penn State University is also amid a survey of all the public archives in the state to produce a searchable database.
The ambitious project aims to shed light on small, underfunded public historical societies where records are often "hidden from historians and scholars" and not used, Matt Isham of the "The People's Contest: A Civil War Era Digital Archiving Project" wrote in an email.
Some people are even donating items unsolicited.
In Maine, for instance, some residents have submitted letters from ancestors who served in the war, but the sesquicentennial also saw an unusual submission from James R. Hosmer.
Hosmer's mother, Mary Ruth Hosmer, died in 2005. He was going through her possessions in Kittery, Maine, when he made a discovery: dozens of carte de viste, small photographs carried by some Union troops, an early version of dog tags. They were stored in a suitcase in an attic.
"The state archives was quite thrilled with it," Hosmer said.
The Virginia archivists said they were especially pleased by a submission from the family of an escaped slave who wrote of his love for a woman named Julia at the same time he fled his master for an outpost on the Chesapeake Bay, where Union ships were known to pick up men seeking their freedom. David Harris found his freedom in 1861, serving as a cook for Union troops.
"I love to read the sweet letters that come from you, dear love," David Harris wrote to Julia. "I cannot eat for thought of you."
A valentine made of pink paper and shaped into a heart using an intricate basket weave was addressed to Confederate soldier Robert H. King to his wife Louiza. He was killed in 1862.
As for the diary tucked in a soldier's breast pocket that shielded him from death at Gettysburg, "He kept using the diary," Savits said. "He just wrote around it."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
December 27, 2011
Ancient seal found in Jerusalem linked to ritual practiced at temple 2,000 years ago
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston celebrates the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty
Japanese designer of everyday arty kitchenware Yanagi died in Tokyo at age of 96
Edo Pop: The Graphic Impact of Japanese Prints at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
MoMA PS1 pays tribute to one the most prolific and influential American filmmakers of the last half century
From New England to the South, Civil War's 150th anniversay stirs a trove of memories
Driven to Draw: Twentieth-century drawings and sketchbooks form the Royal Academy's Collection
The Glass Ceiling Shattered, 30 Years - 3 Great American Women Artists at Alan Avery Art Company
Kunstverein Hamburg curates exhibition with works by American graphic designer Charley Harper
Sammlung Falckenberg in Hamburg opens exhibition by Ena Swanser and Robert Lucander
One of the world's most important annual photography events to be held at the Park Avenue Armory in March
Serial Pursuits: David Mabb, Dayanita Singh, Manisha Parekh, Audiobombing Crew at Nature Morte
San Francisco Arts Commission announces Tom DeCaigny as new Director of Cultural Affairs
Yayoi Kusama's flower sculptures brighten the Jardin des Tuileries for the Winter
Dugald Stermer, artist who redesigned Olympic medal, dies
New performance program showcasing emerging artists at work
Yang Fudong's epic seven-screen installation, The Fifth Night, premieres in Hong Kong
National Gallery of Canada presents Christian Marclay's most ambitious video installation
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- After decades of slights, Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera tastes fame at 101
2.- Gallery 19C rediscovers a lost Realist treasure by Alphonse Legros
3.- France blocks sale of rare Leonardo Da Vinci painting 'Saint Sebastian'
4.- New exhibition at the National Museum puts select works of art under a microscope
5.- Getty Museum presents first major exhibition on 18th century artist Edme Bouchardon
6.- Rarely seen silkscreen prints by Jacob Lawrence on view at the Phillips Collection
7.- Fraenkel Gallery debuts of new, large-scale photographs by British artist Richard Learoyd
8.- Kurdish-Arab forces seize strategic Syria citadel from IS
9.- Paris show of masterpieces unseen in West is smash hit
10.- Award-winning Indian actor Om Puri dies of heart attack
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.