Lincoln's Fifth Wheel: the Political History of the United States Sanitary Commission

By William Quentin Maxwell; Allan Nevins | Go to book overview
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Introduction

A WORD about the files of the Sanitary Commission. Much pertinent material in the letter press books is still available. Back in the sixties and seventies clerks folded the letters written to the commission, put them in legal envelopes, labeled and numbered them; the clerks put about there hundred letters in each box. Because many boxes are falling to pieces, the numbered order is frequently meaningless. I found that a much surer way of checking references was to note the box number, the writer's name, the person to whom it was sent, and the date and place of writing; these facts are generally written in a large hand on the front of the envelope, together with a synopsis of the contents; this simplifies the job of examining masses of manuscript. The Bellows Collection ( Boxes638-42) is arranged alphabetically; in the other boxes letters are generally ordered according to the day of week and month. Microfilm proved especially valuable in examining immense collections; all that I gathered have been turned over to the Butler Library at Columbia University.

I wish to thank Mr. Robert Hill, Mr. Wilmer Leach, and Mr. Edward Morrison of the Manuscript Room in the New York Library for their help. Mrs. Mary B. Corning sent me microfilm of letters in the Bellows Collection at the Muassachusetts Historical Society. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., let me see his father's papers for the Civil War years. Mrs. W. Crosby Roper and Mrs. Helen Bullock at the Library of Congress and Mrs. Helene Maxwell Hooker at the Huntington Library made it possible to dress this account with more than the bones of official transactions. By the help of Mrs. Henry Royal of Plymouth and Mr. Gersham Bradford of Washington I was able to examine the papers of F. N. Knapp. Miss Amy Steiner let me read the diaries and letters of her father, Dr. L. H. Steiner; these manuscripts are now the possessions of the Maryland Historical Society. At the Pennsylvania Historical Society I read the letters of C. J. Stillé and H. H. Furness; at the New York Historical Society I examined the A. J.

-xi-

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