Civil War letters back in Iowa and ready for transcription

Wilkerson letters, 1863-1865 | Civil War Diaries and Letters

Wilkerson letters, 1863-1865 | Civil War Diaries and Letters

With almost 13,000 pages completed, our crowdsourcing volunteers are wrapping up their efforts to transcribe the UI’s collection of Civil War diaries and letters in order to make them easier to search and browse. But it turns out that that finish line is a moving target, since publicity from the project has attracted new Civil War donations to the Libraries. This week we added a handful of these recent acquisitions — totaling over 1,000 newly digitized pages ready for transcription — to the digital collection: Turner S. Bailey diaries, 1861-1863; Philip H. Conard diary, 1864-1865; and Wilkerson letters, 1863-1865.

In a Cedar Rapids Gazette article last fall, donor Pamela Lee attributed the choice to house her family papers at the UI to the crowdsourcing effort, describing it as “my Christmas list of everything that I thought should be done with the letters.” Read more, or just jump in and start transcribing, at the links below.

Hands-on experience with Civil War history: The University of Iowa is seeking public help with transcribing Civil War history

Letter after letter, week after week, Sarahett Wilkerson pleaded with her husband.

“I wish you could come home,” she wrote to Jesse Wilkerson, who was drafted in November 1864 to serve with the 13th Iowa Infantry in the Civil War.

After five months alone on the couple’s farm in Hamburg and three months caring for a new baby, Sarahett Wilkerson on April 2, 1865, penned another desperate behest of her husband.

“The baby is three months old day before yesturday,” she wrote, her spelling off on some words. “I want you to send her a name.”

In the letter, among 29 that Wilkerson’s descendants recently donated to the University of Iowa Libraries cataloging Jesse Skinner Wilkerson’s Civil War experience, his wife updates the 33-year-old soldier on their children and how much they miss him…

Pamela Lee, 60, of Pullman, Wash., is the great-great-great granddaughter of Jesse Wilkerson and said her family gave the documents to the UI as a way of preserving the material and making it relevant…

“We are so happy that the letters are back in Iowa,” Lee said. “It’s exactly where they should be.”

View the full article at thegazette.com

Help transcribe the UI’s Civil War diaries and letters