January 20, 2022

New Digital Collection: Mississippi State University Libraries Digitize Civil War Diaries and Letters

From MSU Libraries:

Mississippi State University Libraries has made available in its digital collections the Civil War era, first-hand accounts of the Orville Babcock Diaries and Letters of Pvt. Arthur McKinstry.

The Babcock and McKinstry materials are a part of the overall Ulysses S. Grant Collection, which is housed at the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library on the first floor of Mitchell Memorial Library at MSU’s Starkville campus. MSU is one of only five universities in the nation that have the distinction of hosting a presidential library.

Orville Babcock was a Union Army officer and engineer, who eventually became General Grant’s aide-de-camp late in the Civil War. His diaries begin in 1863, notably including his perspective on the siege of Vicksburg, and continue into 1869. Also included are Babcock’s wartime experiences in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee before finally being summoned to Virginia. Additionally, they contain information regarding his post-war experiences in Washington, D.C., where Babcock served as personal secretary to Grant during his presidency, including his famous mission to Santo Domingo in 1869. This collection also includes supplementary materials of speeches, correspondence, and newspaper clippings.

The diaries were donated to the Grant collection by Merlin E. Sumner prior to the Grant collection’s arrival at MSU in 2008.

The letters of Pvt. Arthur McKinstry represent the experience of a young private in the Union Army during the Civil War. McKinstry was faithful to write his mother, aunts and cousins. He also wrote other letters to his uncles, giving reports and first-hand accounts about Company D, all of which are included.  The McKinstry letters were donated to the Grant collection by Frances Oakley.

Both the Babcock Diaries and the McKinstry letters are available for viewing and provide additional insight into the life and times of these individuals who served during the Civil War era.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) 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 Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.