The Civil War Soldiers: "Disabled but not disheartened" campaign officially completed in 2020 but we've added ~80 pages that were left out of the initial digitization process! We are reaching out to you, our engaged volunteers on History Hub, to ask for help in completing these final, few pages to make the collection complete. Contributing to this addition is also a wonderful to commemorate Memorial Day, which began as a way to honor the sacrifice of Union soldiers after the Civil War.

As editor of the periodical The Soldier's Friend, William Oland Bourne sponsored a contest in 1865-1866 in which Union soldiers and sailors who lost their right arms by disability or amputation during the Civil War were invited to submit samples of their penmanship using their left hands. The contest, which awarded a total of $1,000 in prizes for the winning entries, was followed in 1867 by a second contest, which awarded $500 in prizes. This collection represents the entries that Bourne received from former soldiers from all over the country. Oftentimes these men write about the experience of battle and how they lost their limbs. In other cases, they talk about their personal lives and reasons for enlisting.

You can read more about how the Bourne transcriptions are already benefitting researchers in this blog post by historian Allison Johnson.

Thank you for your help and we look forward to finally being able to bring all of the Bourne pages back into the Library's digital collections!


By the People Community Manager