The Massachusetts Studies Network

Dear Sir/Madam,


I am writing on behalf of a team of Polish scholars who are currently working on an Internet database of Civil War letters penned down by the less literate soldiers (the temporary name of the project is Corpus of American Civil War letters).


The database will be located here: and it is to consist of transcribed  manuscripts of letters scribbled down mainly by privates or soldiers from lower walks of life from both armies involved in the war between the states. We are interested in the correspondence whose writing does, at least to some extent, reflect the spoken idiom of the time. Accordingly, we are into letters which are usually devoid of punctuation, are written in semiphonetic spellings, and which contain  grammatical traits deemed improper; by the present-day normative grammar. Is it possible to find such letters in your archives?


The projects aims at creating an easily searchable database in its functionality comparable to the Valley of the Shadow Project, which can be found here: It is assumed that such a database will be of use for not only researchers (historians, linguists, students, etc.) but also lay people.  We are planning a trip to the US and a library search in archives and historical societies, hence my question; would it be possible to copy manuscripts of letters which are in your possession, transcribe them, and upload the transcriptions into the database? In return, we would:

-        acknowledge the source from which given letters came from;

-        provide a link to your library/archive;

-        send you both the electronic and paper copies of transcriptions which could be deposited in your holdings


If you do not have such letters in your archive, can you recommend any historical society, library etc. that might have them? Thank you in advance for your answer,


Dr Maciej Kielar


dr Maciej Kielar

School of English

Adam Mickiewicz University

al. Niepodległości 4

61-874 Poznań, Poland 


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March 2017



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