Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Sherman Papers at Notre Dame

In writing my forthcoming book, Notre Dame in the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory (The History Press, fall 2010), I recently finished a chapter about the interesting connections between the family of Union general William Tecumseh Sherman and Notre Dame:

Sherman's wife, Ellen Ewing, was related to the Gillespie and Phelan families, both of which had strong connections to the university and her sister school, St. Mary's

The Shermans sent their children Willy, Minnie, and Tommy to Notre Dame and St. Mary's during the war

Ellen Sherman arranged for Notre Dame to send one of its priests - Fr. Charles Carrier - as a chaplain to Grant's army at Vicksburg

Fr. Carrier was at the bedside of the Sherman's young son Willy when he died of "camp fever" at Memphis in 1863

General Sherman gave the commencement address at Notre Dame in 1865

There is another very important connection between the Sherman family and Notre Dame that exists to this day: the William T. Sherman Family Papers.

Indeed, any serious scholarship about Sherman and his family begins at the Archives of the University of Notre Dame (UNDA), which is custodian of the collection. Per the UNDA website:

The William Tecumseh Sherman Family Papers, as they were deposited in the University of Notre Dame Archives by Miss Eleanor Sherman Fitch, the granddaughter of General Sherman, prior to her death in 1959, consisted of correspondence, clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, diaries, various legal papers and documents, cancelled checks, bankbooks, financial ledgers, drafts for and copies of articles, speeches and military orders, and explanatory notations -- sometimes on the items themselves and sometimes on separated sheets. This material ranged from the year 1808 to the year 1959 and consisted of originals, photostats, microfilm, typewritten copies and handwritten copies. the nucleus of the collections had been gathered and preserved by Philemon Tecumseh Sherman followed the death of the father, General Sherman. It was subsequently augmented by Miss Fitch, Philemon's niece, who added items in her own possession, typewritten copies which she had made of various items in the collections itself, items or copies of items which she was able to acquire from the others, and her own explanatory notes.

UNDA has made browsing the collection and looking at original documents from your computer very easy!

There is an excellent and well-organized online index to the papers:

There are hyperlinks to original documents:

The original documents can be viewed as thumbnails or as high-quality TIFF images

There are also hyperlinks to typed transcripts of some of the material.

The material proved extremely helpful in my research and writing and it can prove useful to you as well!


  1. What a great resource. More and more materials are becoming digitized and it makes long-distance research and study much easier.

  2. Brad - Thanks! You are right! They also have great finding aids for all of their collections and they are a really nice bunch of folks to correspond with!