Now Online: Our Civil War Graves Survey of Texas

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The Southwest Collection recently received thousands of files of grave surveys documenting the final resting place of Civil War veterans throughout Texas, and portions of Oklahoma and New Mexico. The project was conducted voluntarily by Texas’ Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) chapters as a part of their efforts to document such data throughout the United States. The surveys of cemeteries document the interment of Confederate and Union veterans, as well as able-bodied men at the time of the Civil War whose military affiliation is unknown. Many of these records have been digitized and can be found among our digital collections.

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Most surveys consist of a record of the veteran’s birth and death dates, as well as the county in which the veteran was interred. For example, on the form above James Adams Brandon was identified as buried in Nolan County, Texas, in 1894. Some records also contain the deceased’s service record, albeit using numerous abbreviations. Brandon was a private in Company F, 2nd Arkansas Infantry Battalion.

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Some surveys were conducted at the Military Unit level, rather than at the level of an individual Veteran. In the image above a surveyor has documented William Alva Phipps as a member of Company E, 12th Missouri Cavalry, in the Union. The form also notes that Phipps was buried in East Texas, at Wills Point in Van Zandt County. Phipps, among many other veterans, appears twice in the archive, once by personal name, and again as a member of a military unit.

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Some surveyors went the extra mile, photographing the burial site as well as providing written documentation. This is the headstone of Henry Eugene Bradford of the Texas Infantry. Not all photos are as clear as this one, but they all provide visuals that bring the otherwise dry documentation to life.

As with all our collections, this archive is available in its physical form in the Southwest Collection. But we encourage you to peruse it online. Although only around two thousand records are online at present, it will soon number more than 6,000. Check it out.

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The Sowell Collection Conference – 2018

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It’s April at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, and that means that the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community, and the Natural World is about to host its annual conference! Created through the support of former TTU Regent James Sowell, the Collection provides to researchers the archival papers of some of the country’s most prominent writers on the natural world. Writing with a profound respect for the grandeur and fierceness of the land, these writers are deeply engaged with questions of land use and the nature of community, the conjunction of scientific and spiritual values, and the fragility of wilderness. From Thursday, April 19, through Saturday, April 21, scholars and authors whose works explore these themes will be presenting in the Southwest Collection/Special Collection Library’s Formby Room.

One presenter at the conference will be discussing the work of David Quammen, whose papers the Sowell Collection holds. Quammen is known for writing concise and highly accessible articles and monographs on scientific topics. In The Kiwi’s Egg, for example, he uses the personal letters and notebooks of Charles Darwin to explore the scientist’s biography with a focus on the history of the Darwin’s most famous theory. So it should come as no surprise that Quammen served as the general editor of an illustrated edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the cover of which is above.

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Every year, it seems, a contributor to Orion Magazine speaks at this year’s Conference. That’s probably because the Sowell Collection preserves the records of the Orion Society, of which Orion Magazine is the official publication. A group of writers, environmentalists, and activists, the Orion Society believes that “humans are morally responsible for the world in which we live, and that the individual comes to sense this responsibility as he or she develops a personal bond with nature.” Through a variety of methods, not the least of which is the magazine, they strive to find ways through which nature and communities might be healed.

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While marine biologist, nature author, and passionate environmental advocate Rachel Carson’s papers aren’t in the Sowell Collection, it does own first-edition, signed copies of all her works such as the one seen here.. One presenter at the conference is slated to speak about Carson’s Silent Spring, a book foundational to the environmental movement (and one that you should go read right now!)

Many other presenters will be sharing their scholarship at this year’s event. But if you’d like to use one of the Sowell Collection’s many other archival collections, contact the SWC’s Reference Department and they can get those into your hands.