The Civil War Manuscripts Archives collection includes approximately 30 linear feet of personal letters, mainly from soldiers serving in Union regiments from Central Upstate New York. It also includes photographs, diaries and other papers from the period. A database has been created that allows researchers, using keyword searching, to identify the location of content among the more than 16 individual collections.
The materials are a rich source of information on a turbulent period in U.S. history.
For example, letters from Ten Eyck Fonda, great-grandfather of Henry Fonda, shed light on the importance for war communications of telegraphers, a job that was often more dangerous than that of the regular army.
Materials from the Maurice Leyden Collection includes diaries. And one entry indicates that a number of women in Rochester, NY, Leyden’s wife Margaret and Susan B. Anthony, actually registered to vote and did so in 1872, almost 50 years before the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920. Maurice and Margaret attended Miss Anthony’s subsequent trials and he has short entries about the trials in his 1872 and 1873 diaries.
Leyden also coordindated post-War reunions of his regiment, and the collection includes many letters from wives, or other relatives, of veterans explaining why the former soldiers would not be able to attend. They afford a telling glimpse into the challenges that faced men returning from the fighting.