AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University Libraries has acquired a rare collection of Civil War papers and documents that offer insight into the peace negotiations that took place between emissaries of the Union and Confederacy aboard a steamer at Hampton Roads, Va., in February 1865. The Hampton Roads Peace Conference is featured prominently in the movie “Lincoln,” which has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards.
The papers will be added to the Ralph Brown Draughon Library’s Special Collections and Archives Department, supporting the already rich physical collection of Civil War-related material preserved there. They will also be digitized and made available to researchers and Civil War historians around the world.
When the Hampton Roads Conference was convened, it was agreed that no formal notes would be kept of the proceedings. Therefore, the private papers of Hampton Roads Conference attendees, such as U.S. Major Thomas Eckert and Confederate Assistant Secretary of War John A. Campbell, have become extremely important to understanding why the Hampton Roads negotiations ultimately failed.
Auburn University Libraries has already digitized the personal diary of Eckert, and the acquisition of these papers, including letters written by Eckert, help to give a more complete picture of the events that took place at the Hampton Roads Conference.
“This acquisition comes at a very interesting time,” said Greg Schmidt, special collections librarian at Auburn University Libraries. “Since the Hampton Roads Peace Conference plays such a major role in the story of Lincoln, the interest in the events surrounding the Civil War and President Lincoln is very high. We expect many people will be eager to see these documents.”
“We are very proud of the effort put forth by Library staff in acquiring these materials and are thankful for the generosity of the B.H. Breslauer Foundation, which is dedicated to making rare historical documents available to all researchers through grants-in-aid to public institutions,” said Bonnie MacEwan, dean of the Auburn University Libraries. In addition to the generous grant from the B.H. Breslauer Foundation, matching funds have been provided by Carroll Strickland of Huntsville.
In praising Strickland’s generosity, MacEwan said, “We are fortunate to have a major donor like Mrs. Strickland who understands the importance of preserving precious documents from our nation’s history.”
Collections such as this are among the types of in-kind donations received by the Auburn University Foundation on the university’s behalf. For more information about making donations of this nature, contact Auburn’s Office Development at (334) 844-7375.
The staff in the Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives has received the collection and will begin the process of digitizing the items for access online. More information on the Auburn University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives can be found at http://www.lib.auburn.edu/specialcollections.
(Written by Jayson Hill.)