A photograph and letter of Emory Wilcox, a soldier of the 129th Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry, who died during the battle of Cold Harbor on June 6, 1864, during the Civil War, is one of several items on display at the Special Collections department of the Glenn G. Bartle Library.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
‘Civil War Collections’ exhibit on display at libraryTweet
Binghamton University’s Special Collections department is marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War by displaying a collection of authentic documents, letters and journals from the Civil War era.
The Civil War Collections consist of 16 individual collections of materials that are all centered around the Civil War, dating from the early 19th to the early 20th century. The collections shed light on the role Binghamton and its surrounding counties played in the war.
All of the items in the collection are owned by the University.
“The Civil War Collections were acquired through purchase,” said Jean L. Green, head of special collections.
One collection, named the Maurice Leyden Collection, includes 190 documents ranging from diary entries, letters, financial documents and photographs, all dating from 1860 to 1919. Leyden was a dentist and banker who lived in Rochester. He would later become the treasurer, 2nd lieutenant and then captain of the 3rd New York Regiment of Cavalry.
The Leyden collection also contains ample information pertaining to Leyden’s wife, Margaret. Leyden’s diary entries reveal that she was a supporter and protégé of women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony. Margaret Leyden also had the opportunity to register and later vote with Anthony on Nov. 5, 1872.
Historically speaking, New York’s role in the Civil War was notable. No actual battle was fought on New York state land; the northernmost battle fought was in Gettysburg, Pa. Yet the Civil War Collections show that New York still had an impact on the war.
“Most sources indicate that New York State sent the most men and money to the war effort,” Green said.
Moreover, six out of the five infantry divisions that fought the first battle at Gettysburg were commanded by generals from New York—one of them from Binghamton.
Another collection, the Ten Eyck Fonda Collection, consists of letters written by Fonda from 1861 to 1863, during his service as a telegrapher for the United States Military Telegraph Service. Fonda is an ancestor of the late actor Henry Fonda, and his daughter, actress Jane Fonda.
The Civil War Collections are not the only war-related collections the Special Collections department has.
“We have the Waid Collection. It contains over 700 German books, periodicals and government documents, including information from the Nazi era and reconstruction after World War II,” Green said.
“We also have a collection of books called the Haggerty Collection, which covers French and British colonies through the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so it touches upon wars such as the Israel-Arab War, the Indochinese War and the World Wars,” Green said.
Those who wish to view these and the Civil War Collections can visit the Special Collections department, off of the North Reading Room of the Glenn G. Bartle Library. The Civil War Collections are open to the public, and the Civil War exhibit will be on display until the end of this semester.