Small Civil War Letters Archive at Baylor

Baylor University has announced that a small archive of Civil War letters has been digitized and is now available at the Baylor University Library Digital Collections site. The collection consists of thirty-two letters, mostly between a soldier and his sweetheart.

The letters have been both digitized and transcribed; from the front page of the collection you can browse the letters in chronological order. The next-to-last item is the burial receipt for John Coleman, who wrote most of the letters (he died in 1880) and the last item — a really nice touch — is a chronological transcription of all the letters, presented in a PDF file.

Click on a letter and you’ll get a good-sized picture; a lot of them are tough to read however (especially the ones written on blue paper.) On the left nav you’ll have the option to view the document description (the letter itself), the page description, or the page and text. Choose the page and text option; you’ll get a good copy of the letter to browse but also a transcription in a popup window. The transcriptions aren’t perfect, but they’re very good.

John Coleman is an interesting man. Melancholy, frustrated, worried about his girlfriend and family, occasionally bored, he mixes home and war news equally. His girlfriend writes back patiently, their letters often missing each other. The good transcriptions and the focus on two people make this a fascinating read. Well done Baylor.

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