October 21, 2011

The Valley of the Shadow and other Civil War Diaries and Letters

        "April 26.
Been busy making knapsacks for rebel troopers. Ladies here cutting out and making uniforms for the Churchville Cavalry Company. Work at Odd Fellow's Hall early and late. Mr. Arnold was formerly a tailor and helps night and day. " - Alansa Rounds Sterrett of Augusta County, VA


The Valley of the Shadow project started out as a book entitles In the Presence of Mine Enemies. The research that went into the book is so interesting and useful that it has been digitized for the world to access. It contains Civil War Era letters,diaries, newspapers, census records ect. from Franklin County, PA and Augusta County, VA. It includes documents from men, women, soldiers, and gives a very well rounded account of both Counties.  It is completely searchable and a real joy to peruse.  
"June 23, 2863
 The Reb's have been cutting up high. Sawed down telegraph poles, destroyed the scotland bridge again took possession of the warehouses & were dealing out flour by the barrel & mollasses by the bucket ful--They made people take them bread--meat--&c to eat--Some dumb fools carried them jellies & the like--Not a thing went from this place." -Rachel  Cormany of Franklin County, PA

Visit the site here: The Valley of the Shadow

Other sites that archive Civil War Era letters and diaries:

-Letters from an Iowa Soldier in the Civil War :These letters are from Newton Robert Scott a Private in   Company A, of the 36th Infantry, Iowa Volunteers, to his friend at home, Hannah Cone.
-"My Precious Loulie...": Love letters of the Civil War: These letters are digitized as part of the Special Collections of Virginia Tech.
-The Civil War Archive: Letters Home from the Civil War: This site contains submitted letters of soldiers from both sides of the conflict. 
-Letters About the Civil War: A few collections of letters.
-Letters from the American Civil War: Scans of letters and envelopes. This is great if you want to examine envelopes, writing materials or handwriting.

I love reading old journals, diaries and letters. It's not only a window to the past but a window to one soul. It really makes you think about the generalizations we make in history. Life is more complex than that and we shouldn't lose sight of that even if we are trying to make information more palatable. Hope you enjoy the links and the Valley of the Shadow project. I personally think that it is like an early birthday present. :D 

**Note: I really am hating Blogger's new image viewer. It doesn't let you zoom and puts all the photos on a black background. If you would like to view a picture the old way and zoom in, left click on the image and click "open in new tab."

4 comments :

  1. I love reading old journels and diaries from the Civil War. I'm especially fond of reading and collecting the war-time love letters. People really spoke their heart. You get a glimpse of their life and love...their heart wide open.

    Great links.

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  2. I think your observation, "It really makes you think about the generalizations we make in history" is really insightful. "History" sometimes is what people with an agenda have done to rearrange the facts. Thanks for sharing the links and the recommendation on the book.

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  3. Thanks for your comments! There is a big historical debate about what will happen in the modern age where e-mails are quickly deleted.

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