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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.

Duty, Love, and Loss: The Browne Family of Salem, Massachusetts

In 1863, Albert Gallatin Browne, Sr., an ardent abolitionist who hoped to better his family financially, took a position in Beaufort, South Carolina, as a special agent of the United States Treasury appraising contraband, such as cotton, that fell into Union hands. His family went South to join him and within a few weeks of their arrival, his daughter, Sarah Ellen "Nellie", became engaged to Lewis Ledyard Weld, then a captain in the 7th U.S. Colored Troops, and nephew of the abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld.  Tragically, Nellie died of typhoid fever in June 1864, and her “beloved Louie” died from a “severe cold” seven months later near Petersburg, Virginia.  

The full collection of Browne family papers at the Schlesinger Library consists of over seven boxes and additional folders of correspondence and other papers, including accounts of Albert Gallatin Browne's service during the Civil War. Three folders of material, including Nellie's and Lewis' courtship correspondence and family correspondence detailing the illness and death of Nellie and Lewis, have been digitized and are available online.