Civil War Patriotic Envelope Collection Open For Research

American Eagle Responding to the South Carolina Secession

Printed on the back of the envelope: The destruction of the Snake of South Carolina, Nullification and Secession. and all her progeny, by the National Bird.

The Phillips Library was the recipient of a grant from the National Historic Publication and Records Commission (NHPRC), which provided the opportunity to process more than 85 manuscript collections of historic significance.  One of these collections is MM 8, Civil War Patriotic Envelope Collection, which houses more than 9,400 examples of envelopes created to promote the political and social causes of the war, depicting both Union and Confederate perspectives.

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Who Writes Like That?

Refelection on the Earth, Penmanship Exercise, Joseph Franks, 1793Recently a colleague was looking through handwritten catalog cards and remarked, Who writes like that today?  His comment reminded me of the penmanship handbooks and scrapbooks we hold in the Phillips Library collection.  So, I went into the vault and pulled three volumes of penmanship samples from our Essex County manuscript collection, which had been completed by students in the Salem schools in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Jennifer Hornsby, the Assistant Archivist, and I enjoyed a pleasant morning looking through the volumes, marveling at the many beautiful examples of this lost art.

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Early Congregational Church History

John Fiske’s Notebook, Photograph courtesy of James F. Cooper, Oklahoma State University


One of the earliest manuscripts in the Phillips Library is a notebook kept by John Fiske (1601-1677) during his several pastorates at Salem, Wenham, and Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Fiske arrived here from England in 1637 and worked in Salem as physician, part-time schoolmaster, and occasional assistant to the Reverend Hugh Peter until about 1641, when he went to Wenham. He became the first minister of the First Church of Christ founded there on October 8, 1644. In 1655 Fiske moved to Chelmsford, where also he was the first minister, and remained there until the day of his death on January 14, 1677.

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