We are excited to continue sharing new finding aids to connect students and researchers with the extraordinary manuscript collections at the Clements Library. In this post we will highlight materials relating to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War; Law, Crime, and Punishment; Health and Mental Health; the Caribbean; Land and Property; and the Civil War.
The four finding aids listed below signal the Clements’ remarkable strengths relating to the military and social histories of wars and their aftermath. This batch includes materials spanning from the Revolutionary War through World War I.
Revolutionary War diary (1776-1793, bulk 1776)
This 34-page, pocket-size Revolutionary War diary was kept from August to September 1776 by an unidentified American soldier, likely a private from Pennsylvania. The diarist and his unit traveled through Philadelphia and along the New Jersey coast. Places named include Trenton, Princeton, Kingston, New Brunswick, the Raritan River, Perth Amboy, Elizabeth, Newark, Newark Bay, Bergenfield, Paulus Hook, and Kingsbridge. The author wrote of camp life, lodgings, food, occasional interactions with civilians, and military encounters. He appears to have been in the vicinity of New York, New York, in the early stages of the New York campaign. Later entries at the back of the volume predominantly relate to financial transactions and travel costs.
Solon Morrison letters (1861-1864)
This collection consists of three letters Solon Morrison of Montreal, Canada, wrote to his brother David Morrison of Windsor, Vermont, between 1861 and 1864. He primarily wrote about the American Civil War, local opinions on the conflict, and family affairs. He mentioned American deserters, writing for newspapers, and the impact the war was having on Canadian businesses.
Ferdinand C. Porée collection (1892-1901)
The Ferdinand C. Porée Collection is made up of eight documents or sets of documents and one business card pertaining to Porée’s efforts to secure and maintain his Civil War pension. Porée served as 2nd Lieutenant in the 30th Massachusetts Infantry. By 1890, suffering from poor health, he retired from his position as Post Office clerk in Boston. The bundles of documents were compiled by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions, and include a denial of his 1892 application. Porée had heart, skin, nervous, and bowel issues and the Bureau determined his symptoms too closely resembled rheumatism to accept the application. In the late 1890s, he worked with pension attorneys to create a new application with physician diagnoses of malarial fever/poisoning, dysentery, sun stroke, rheumatism, “Army Itch”, and acute mania. He received his pension approval in the spring of 1897, but the Bureau revoked the pension in 1901 for lack of evidence of the connection between ailments and his military service.
William R. Antis collection (1893-1961, bulk 1917-1919)
This collection pertains to William Ray Antis (1887-1943) of Detroit, Michigan, who served in the 484th Aero Squadron of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. The collection includes eight letters to his mother Jessie Antis Germond, two military documents, a scrapbook of postcards kept during his time in France, photographs, two printed maps, three books, and four cloth/embroidered/painted-cloth items (incl. sergeant’s stripes and a handkerchief case). The materials also include items from 1961 related to Sergeant Antis’ daughter Dorothy J. Antis and Gerald “Jerry” Dumas, including original artwork from a Beetle Bailey comic strip.
Law, Crime, and Punishment
Crimes, court cases, and the legal system all tend to generate plentiful commentary and paperwork, making them rich archival sources. Several recent finding aids highlight the historical detail to be found in such caches.
Detailed account of the Murder of Lilla Hoyle scrapbook (1887-1888)
This custom-made volume contains newspaper clippings that follow the investigation of and trials for the murder of Lillian “Lilla” Hoyle of Webster, Massachusetts, on September 1, 1887. The unresolved case involved abortion, accusations of incest, and speculation and sensationalism in press reporting. The elaborately made volume also contains a calligraphic title page and two portrait photographs, one of Lilla Hoyle and the other of her sister Alice Hoyle.
Murder of Lilla Hoyle scrapbook (1887-1888).
Vice-Admiralty Court of Gibraltar privateer document (1760)
This 47-page manuscript, dated March 1760, is a series of certified copies of legal documentation from the British Vice-Admiralty Court of Gibraltar, relating to the ship Immacolata Concezione & St. Ignazio di Loyola, commanded by Roman citizen Lorenzo Ghiglino. The ship was captured by the British privateer St. Albans (Captain Edward Vernon) in October 1759 off the coast of Cadiz, Spain. The Immacolata … was brought to Gibraltar where the ship and its cargo were condemned as prizes. This manuscript provides a detailed account of the complex legal and commercial practices during the Seven Years’ War. It outlines Ghiglino’s earlier encounter with New York privateers in 1757 during his initial voyage to Cap Français, Saint Domingue, his acquittal in the New York Vice-Admiralty Court in 1758, efforts to secure sugar and coffee cargo in Saint Domingue in 1759, his re-capture near Cadiz by Edward Vernon, and legal arguments about prize law. The manuscript is on loose sheets, connected by stab sewing near the top edge.
Health and Mental Health
The following new finding aids reflect on the enduring quest for health and the myriad treatments for mental and physical unwellness.
Dorothea Dix letters to Frances Bowen (1886-1887)
This collection is made up of four letters from mental health reformer and nurse Dorothea Dix to her friend Frances Bowen between 1886 and 1887. At the time, Dix was an octogenarian living in a private apartment in the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum at Trenton, which she had founded in 1848. Her correspondence relates to the purchase, shipment, and gifting of copies of Helps by the Way by Sara Wilson and Martha Hussey, as well as Events and Epochs in Religious History by James Clarke. Dix reflected on the comfort she received from “Helps…”, her illness, and her “disabling pain.” Two of the letters are indicated “confidential.”
Clara M. Bowers, Note Book for use in The Battle Creek Sanitarium and Hospital Training School for Nurses ([1920s])
This well-used volume of mimeographed pages bears the cover title “Note Book for use in The Battle Creek Sanitarium and Hospital Training School for Nurses : Battle Creek, Michigan.” Clara M. Bowers, a student, annotated passages and made notes in the volume in the 1920s. The book is essentially a series of extracts from J. H. Kellogg’s Outlines of Practical Hydrotherapy…, focusing on specific methods, directions, and measurements used by nurses at the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
Our Home on the Hillside Sanatorium receipts (1886-1887)
This collection is made up of 13 partially printed receipts from the Our Home on the Hillside sanatorium at Dansville, New York, for patient Lizzie Allen “& maid.” The receipts reflect weekly $20.00 payments for board and medical treatment. One manuscript receipt dated February 23, 1887, is a payment of $12.00 for 24 music lessons and $2.50 for the rent of a piano for five weeks.
Lyman Wheeler diaries (1852-1855)
Lyman Wheeler of western New York wrote two diaries from February 1852 to June 1855, recording his experiences as a house painter, teacher, and adherent of medical practices like phrenology, hydrotherapy, and vegetarianism. He wrote of his social, intellectual, and professional activities in the region, and described trips he took to cities and towns in western New York and New York City. The second volume includes much content related to his involvement in the “water cure,” including time as both a patient and worker at the Forestville Water Cure, and a visit to the Orange Mountain Water Cure in New Jersey.
Sarah Wright correspondence (1900)
This collection is made up of four letters sent in response to Sarah Wright’s inquiries about her missing husband Frank Wright, dated between April and June of 1900. Three letters are from J. M. Hawks, one of Frank’s friends, and Dr. Lewis Van Gilder Guthrie, the superintendent of the Second Hospital for the Insane in West Virginia, where Frank died in 1896.
The Clements has remarkable holdings relating to the Caribbean, and these recent finding aids show how this collection strength continues to grow.
Gabriel-Marie-Théodore-Joseph d’Hédouville collection (1798)
The Gabriel-Marie-Théodore-Joseph d’Hédouville Collection is made up of 17 incoming and outgoing letters, drafts, and documents pertinent to d’Hédouville’s time as French commissioner to Saint-Domingue. Dating between January 26 and December 18, 1798, d’Hédouville’s communicated with Governor-General Toussaint Louverture, André Rigaud, Spanish Governor of Santo Domingo Joaquín García, and others. The manuscripts pertain to military, naval, and political affairs in Revolutionary Haiti; a still stolen from physician “Citoyen Ferrié” and spirited away to Santo Domingo; and French Royalists in exile in Guadeloupe.
George Anson letters (1789-1795)
This collection is made up of 26 letters (59 pages) from George Anson to William Lee, while the men served in the British Army between 1789 and 1795. Anson largely wrote while serving as an officer in the 16th Light Dragoons and 20th Jamaica Light Dragoons. He wrote primarily from Shugborough in Staffordshire, England, and Spanish Town, Jamaica (1792-1794). His letters pertain to recruiting for dragoon regiments, the dangerous climate of Jamaica, the jarring death of a friend from fever, horses in military service, promotions, jocular banter, and the movement of troops to Santo Domingo as part of British involvement in the Haitian Revolution. He wrote candidly and crudely about sexual activity, London prostitution and brothels, prostitution at Spanish Town, Black women in Jamaica, and the sexual and alcohol-related exploits of his recipient and friends also serving in dragoon regiments. Two letters reference Elizabeth Weldon and Viscount Dungarvan in early 1791.
The Gabriel-Marie-Théodore-Joseph d’Hédouville collection includes striking letters about the revolutionary moment, like this May 15, 1798 piece that comments on exiles in Guadeloupe.
Woman’s Cuba Travel diary (1854-1855)
An unnamed woman kept this diary, documenting her sojourn to Cuba from October 1854 to April 1855. She traveled with members of her family, including “Uncle M” (likely Montgomery Livingston), Margaret (possibly Margaret M. Tillotson), Mary, and a servant Bridget. Staying primarily in Havana and Güines, the writer described Cuban vegetation, religious and social practices of white and Black residents, cuisine and dress, military and political figures, enslaved laborers and hired servants, sugar, tobacco, and coffee plantations, and other international travelers.
Land and Property
Whether it’s interpersonal disputes, speculation schemes, or estates, land and property stir up all kinds of human emotion, conflict, and documentation. The following new finding aids speak to the many ways these issues continue to emerge in the historical record.
William Trent and George Croghan collection (1750-1780)
This collection contains four items pertaining to traders and land speculators William Trent and George Croghan’s finances and land dealings in western Pennsylvania.
Andrew Turnbull collection (1786)
This collection of four letters relate to the post-Revolutionary War reputation of Dr. Andrew Turnbull, founder of the New Smyrna colony in East Florida. They were principally written by former Governor of East Florida Patrick Tonyn to British officials and include opposition to Turnbull receiving a government salary.
Norton (Mass.) Property Inventories (1850-1876).
Norton (Mass.) property inventories (1850-1876)
This collection is made up of 10 inventories of the personal and real property of one person or family in and around Norton, Massachusetts, over the course of 26 years. The entries include objects and land ownership, along with valuations. The property owner began with four heifers/steers/bulls, around 10 acres of woodland, carpenter’s tools, and a selection of clothing items. The following inventories reflect the expansion of a carpentry business, accumulation of more and higher quality clothing, aging of livestock, acquisition of horses, lambs, and oxen, improved tack, neck stocks, wagons, plows, shovels, chains, and more. In the late 1850s and 1860s, they gained a “detach Lever silver watch,” picture frames, a checkerboard, a sword cane, pocketknives, firearms, lanterns, and other household goods. After the Civil War, they started saving money in a bank account, purchased bonds, and held cash and currency. By 1876, the real property expanded to over 43 acres in Norton, Easton, and Mansfield. The concluding inventory is a list of real estate, a selection of objects, and an entry for “Houshold Stuf to numerous to mention.” In 1850, the total assets were $760.50. By 1876, they were $17,076.25.