Thursday, August 13, 2015

Participating in the Remembering Lincoln Digital Project

by Marian Matyn

At the end of July, I received notification from the Remembering Lincoln digital project of the Ford Theatre that they had discovered a number of manuscripts in our collection related to reactions to President Lincoln’s assassination. They found the manuscripts because they were cataloged in OCLC, the national online catalog. Would we be interested in participating in their website, they asked? Absolutely, I replied.

What is the website all about? Remembering Lincoln is a digital project of the Ford Theatre. It provides access to letters, diaries, newspapers, sermons, mourning ribbons, and other primary sources that show how people across the world felt when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated -- mourning him, not mourning him, or other sentiments altogether. Some items discuss hearing the initial news, mourning rituals, his funeral, or later forms of memorials. There are also teaching modules for various grade levels. Check out the site here. 

The five items I added to the Remembering Lincoln website are listed in Centra (the CMU Libraries on-line catalog) and are listed below:

Farley Letter from the
Doris L. King Family Papers

A handwritten letter (4 p.) to Jane (Young) Metcalf Betts from her aunt Harriet Farley in Burr Oak, Saint Joseph County, Michigan, April 23, 1865, describing her feelings about and the town’s reaction (gathering, mourning, and sermons), to the death of Lincoln. The letter is in the Doris L. King Family Papers, 1822, 1877.

An unsigned, handwritten letter (1 p.) to "Friend Lib" [probably the widow Elizabeth, Mrs. Levi Smith] from a Union soldier in or serving at Harper Hospital Detroit, Michigan, April 20, 1865, describing how two Union soldiers rejoiced in hearing of Lincoln’s death and were punished. The letter is in the Levi Smith Family Papers, 1851, 1903.

McClure Correspondence
A third document is a handwritten diary entry of August 12, 1865 of Quincy A. Moore of Ohio, describing his visit to the Dan Rice Circus in Bellefontaine, Ohio, where he saw a tableau of President Lincoln’s assassination, 1 page, in 1 volume. The item is a one item collection: Quincy A. Moore (d. 1877) Diary, 1865, 1869

A handwritten letter to his parents from J.D. McClure in Memphis, Tennessee, April 1865, emotionally describing how the Secessionists (demons) who killed Lincoln will be punished. This letter is a one item collection: J.D. McClure Correspondence, 1865.

A letter from Reuben Yarick at Washington, D.C., to his brother John Yarick, describing his fears and feelings about the assassination of President Lincoln and visiting the body in the White House. This is one letter in the John Yarick Papers, 1854-1864.

John Yarick Papers
For each item linked to the Ford Theatre site, there is a template that donor of digitized documents fill with information, including a long and short title, description of contents and size, item type, material type, transcription (which in some cases was quite time consuming), various sizes and types of scans of the item, location and identification of creator, a list of searchable terms selected from a standardized vocabulary list, information about use, proper citation, institution, and relevant institutional links. I added the Clarke’s Civil War bibliography, which I compiled years ago, but is still relevant and gives an idea of the breadth of our Civil War sources. And I offer a big thank you to Bryan and Casey for scanning all those documents various ways so I could upload them.