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What They Wrote, What They Saved: The Personal Civil War

This exhibition features diaries, letters, and firsthand accounts from four years of Civil War that offer intimate glimpses into the lives of men and women affected by the strife. The following exhibit items have been digitized and are available online.

Ann Maria Davison

A native of New Jersey, Davison had been a resident of Louisiana for nearly forty years when she began her antislavery tract in 1856. A widow, she lived with her daughter and son-in-law on a plantation in St. Tammany Parish outside of New Orleans. There she had ample opportunity to observe the living conditions of the slaves—her diaries contrast the meals consumed by the family and those offered the slaves—and to instruct them in Bible readings, spelling, and mental arithmetic. This was, of course, in direct violation of the law, but for Davison the contradiction between Scripture and slavery was unmistakable.

Ann Dorsey Read Reeves

Ann (or Annie) Dorsey Read Reeves was the daughter of George Read, III, and came from a prominent family in Delaware. She married Isaac Stockton Keith Reeves, who graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in the class of 1838 and served in the Army until his death in 1851. Reeves’ pro-Southern sympathies led her to move to Arkansas during the Civil War. She traveled by boat to Virginia and by train to Tennessee, before settling in a home near Lake Chicot, near the Mississippi River, with her children.

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