May 22, 2022

New Hampshire: College Students Assist State Library; Transcribe and Digitize Civil War Letters

From the AP (via Memphis Commercial-Appeal):

Seven score and 12 years ago, a Civil War soldier was packing on the freshman 15 — and then some.

In cheerful letters sent to his family back home in Hillsborough, Pvt. Willard Templeton describes at length the food he ate and the weight he gained as he traveled and fought with the 11th New Hampshire Regiment.

“My health has been very good. I have gained in flesh a good deal and never felt better in my life,” he wrote to his brother on Oct. 3, 1862.

Such descriptions came as a surprise to some of the Keene State College students who have been transcribing the 144 letters Templeton wrote between 1862 and July 1864, when he was killed at the Battle of the Crater in Virginia.


The letters were donated to the 1940s to the New Hampshire State Library, which has long wanted to digitize its collections but has lacked the resources. So Janet Eklund, administrator of library operations, was happy to arrange a temporary loan when history professor Graham Warder and college archivist Rodney Obien approached her about using the letters in Warder’s “Civil War Locally” seminar.

Read the Complete Article

MUCH MORE info about the project on this page from Keene State College.

[Associate Professor of History Graham] Warder said the project was a perfect opportunity to use the new “Digital Commons” created by Keene State’s library as an online repository for research and scholarly work. But more importantly, it gave students a chance to work with primary historical documents. The letters provided students a sense of immediacy and personal view of the war and spurred them to research on their own the people and places Templeton mentioned.

View the Letters that Have Been Digitized/Transcribed (More to Come)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.