After two years of work our first large personal paper collection has been fully digitized and described. A comprehensive digital finding aid is in the final development stages and should be available for use by the end of March. While the digitization and description have been completed, ongoing work still continues as a broad team of students, staff, and interns works to transcribe, and thus make keyword searchable, these handwritten texts.
Containing over 2,100 discreet items the Sherman-Thackara Collection is largely composed of correspondence containing many letters from Eleanor to her father, General William Tecumseh Sherman, frequently referring to public events and personalities. Another feature of the correspondence that calls for special attention is the local color and references to many individuals, events, and institutions of Philadelphia and the Main Line in the 1880’s and 1890’s. A unique part of the collection is A. M. Thackara’s correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia relating to his years at Annapolis up until his marriage. Here can be found an unusual first-hand picture of Naval life after the U.S. Civil War.
While the transcriptions have not yet been made available, final editing has been completed on a growing pool of letters and documents, so starting in this Blue Electrode post we will be making selected transcriptions available. Here is a part of the transcription from a letter from A.M. Thackara to his father Benjamin Thackara, April 12, 1866, from the ship the U.S. “Constitution”:
As I have some spare time I thought I would write you again. Frank Biruey has returned from Philadelphia. He says he saw you while he was there and he brought me some paper and stamps, for which accept my thanks. It was what I wanted as I was entirely out. We went to an entertainment Friday Evening given by a party of midshipmen. It consisted of a pantomime, called “The Magic Trumpet” and an afterpiece called “The Mummy” it was very good. The magical feats were performed very well. We play ball a great deal now. Every afternoon after exercise
we go out and practise. We have very nice grounds over by the Hospital. We are going to play the return match, next Saturday with the 3rd classmen. I suppose they will beat us this time. I am in the First Section in “Math”. I went up this last week. I tell you it is a big thing to be there. There is a photographer coming from Philadelphia to take photographs of the Midm. He has a place in the yard built for him and I suppose he will be here in a few days. From what I can hear it is Gutekunst. I know it is him I now. I suppose You will want me get some taken. We are getting along all right here now, the even numbered crews sleep on board the Santeo. They commenced last Evening the fellows are all around me
sulking about leave and different things. I tell you it is very nice. During recreation hours I enjoy myself almost as well as home. Al sends his best wishes and hopes you will have a splendid time on your Journey. The Winnepec left here Yesterday for Boston, she is going there to refit for the cruises. I see by last night’s paper that the Senate has passed the Civil rights bill over the veto of the President. We have to make hammock clews and splice ropes and make grummels It leaves us a great deal, we have to make a certain amount every week. The unsatisfactory list just came, I am not on it, in fact I have not been since I have been here. I hardly expected to get up in Math. This
week I wish you would come down and see me before you go across the water. We will soon begin to talk about examinations as it commences next month.
I must close now,
Give my love to Mother, Julia Herarlee
From You Affec. Son,
A. M. Thackara