Mournful Tunes: Remembering the Death of Abraham Lincoln through Music

150 years ago today, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre.  Lincoln died the following day on April 15, 1865.  The 150th anniversary of such a momentous event requires some sort of acknowledgement of its passing.  (Or so I was informed when I was brainstorming ideas for this week’s blog post!) As I began sifting through the […]

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Smitten by Miss Sallie

By James M. Prichard Sixteen-year-old Sallie Rowan of McMinnville, Tennessee was no doubt considered one of the most captivating belles in her community during the Civil War. Her surviving papers, which are housed in the Filson’s Special Collections Department, include several letters and calling cards from young Confederate officers who fell under her spell. She apparently caught the eye of […]

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New Civil War Books

The Sesquicentennial of the Civil War is wrapping up this year and with it comes new scholarship on a myriad of topics. The Filson has collected several new books for the collection suitable for background research, fact finding, and general enjoyable reading. I have selected five books for this post that to me represent the diversity of topics from both independent […]

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Embattled Capital: Reflections of a Kentucky Community at War

Although the capital of a crucial border state, Frankfort, like many communities suffered from divided loyalties during the Civil War. The home of the venerable John J. Crittenden, Henry Clay’s chief lieutenant during the glory days of the Whig Party, the capital, while a small town in terms of population, was also the home of other prominent Kentuckians who were […]

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Eloquence is Power: Tom Marshall of Kentucky

By James Prichard In today’s world of speechwriters, sound-bites and teleprompters, it seems traditional oratory is a dying art. Yet for most of the nation’s history, public speaking was widely regarded as a form of mass entertainment and a key to political prominence. “Eloquence,” as John Quincy Adams once wrote, “is power.” During the golden age of American oratory statesmen […]

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Sketches of War and Peace: The James William Abert Collection

The most common mental images of the American Civil War may be that of dramatic cavalry charges, roaring cannon, and soldiers charging across broken grounds with bayonets fixed. Quieter thoughts of the war might include stern faced generals contemplating intricate maps and drawings of fortifications with their subordinates.  Enthusiasts still study these maps and drawings today, yet we rarely pause […]

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Chew on This…a Bit More

I’m composing this quick post as a follow up to one of my early posts here on The Filson blog, dated 11 May 2011 – “Chew on This.”  In that post, I described some historic “prizes” contained within chewing gum packages, including illustrations of Confederate generals, which could be pasted into a collector’s book. Little did I know, we hold […]

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Happy Birthday Rock

  No, not Rock Hudson or wrestler turned actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. No, this Rock is “The Rock of Chickamauga,” Union Major General George H. Thomas, who was born on July 31, 1816. Thomas not only had Kentucky connections during the Civil War but before and after it. In the Mexican War he served under Zachary Taylor, fighting at […]

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“I Quilt for a Contented Heart” – Quilting in The Filson’s Collections

“I quilt for a contented heart.”* No truer words have been spoken. Whether I’m feeling angry, nervous, or excited, I can go to my sewing space and feel at peace. I am by no means a professional quilter; I just love to create handmade things for friends and family, and quilts are practical as well as beautiful. The art of […]

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