Resource guide: Folger materials related to the American Civil War

Folger Shakespeare Library holdings cover a wide range of material types related to the American Civil War, including manuscripts, books, art (paintings, photographs, and drawings), playbills, promptbooks, and more. This list is not exhaustive and will continue to be updated. This article provides resources for learning about the conflict, key people, innovations, and experiences to give context to the Folger collection materials listed below. We welcome suggestions and contributions to this page by email to reference@folger.edu.

Resources by subject

The following resources, arranged by subject, provide contextual information for the Folger materials related to the American Civil War:

General resources

African-American experience and slavery

Arts and culture

Key people

History and general information

Confederacy

Currently, there are no known collection items affiliated with the Confederacy in the Folger collection.

Union

Key people represented in Folger collection.

Prints and Photographs

Folger item list

The table below contains a list of materials held in the Folger Shakespeare Library collection related to the American Civil War. Generally, materials have been selected that represent key figures or events during the conflict, discuss the war in content or were produced in that context. Many more items are tangentially related to the people and places listed and can be found in the online library catalog, Hamnet, Finding Aids database, and Digital image collection.

Title Call Number Digitized? (linked when available) Notes
Yet here’s a spot--out, damned spot, out, I say! [graphic]. ART Box S528m1 no.2 (size S) Digital image
Abraham Lincoln : Born, July 12 [sic], 1809--Died, April 15, 1865 Sh.Misc. 390 (flat) N
The Martyr of liberty ... [John Wilkes Booth shooting Lincoln] [graphic]. ART File B725.5 no.3 (size M) Digital image
Abraham Lincoln ... Shakespeare applied to our national breavement ... Sh.Misc. 390 (flat) Digital image
Autograph letter signed from Robert Todd Lincoln, Chicago, to Miss Post [manuscript], 1901 January 29. Y.c.3772 N Letter is in reply to Miss Post’s inquiry of whether his father had any favorite hymns. Lincoln writes that his father had a great love of Shakespeare especially, but he cannot recall anything to make him think that any hymn had a special attraction for him.
Autograph letters signed from Jane (Cunningham) Croly to various people [manuscript], 1864-1892. Y.c.2947 (7) N (7) asks that the paper deny the gift and accolade she was supposed to have rendered to Mrs. Lincoln.
Three Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Shakspeare! Saturday Evening, April 23, 1864. at Mercantile Library, Large Hall, for the benefit of the Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair! PLAYBILL 268194 Digital image
Autograph letters initialed from Henry William Greville, London, to [Frances Anne] Kemble [manuscript], [1861-1862]. W.b.596, p. 277-305 N
Autograph letters signed from Fanny Kemble to various recipients [manuscript], 1831-1890. W.b.599 N
Autograph letters signed from Fanny Kemble, United States, England and Switzerland, to Harriet St. Leger [manuscript], [1856?-1868?]. Y.c.1463 (1-56) N
Autograph letters singed from Arthur Thomas Malkin, London, to Frances Anne Kemble [manuscript], 1861 April 6-Autumn. W.b.597, p. 377-379 N
Autograph letter signed from Fanny Kemble, Washington, D.C., to Lady Napier [manuscript], [1859 February?] 3, Thursday. Bd.w. PR4839 .K2 1859 Cage N
Autograph letters signed from Fanny Kemble to various recipients [manuscript], 1831-1890. W.b.599 N A letter to Donne (307) tells of John Brown’s Raid and castigates him as a "fanatic maniac."
Typescript letter signed from Clara Barton, Washington, D.C., to Augustin Daly [manuscript], 1894 November 26. Y.c.2669 (1) N
Autograph letter signed from Richard Grant White, New York, to Brantz Mayer [manuscript], 1861 August 30. Y.c.6547 N
Letter from President Lincoln: military arrests vindicated. PR5114 no.64 Cage N
Note signed from Abraham Lincoln, Washington, D.C [manuscript], 1864 July 20. Y.c.1432 Digital image
Album presented by the United States Sanitary Commission, Philadelphia branch, to Charlotte Cushman [manuscript], ca. 1864. T.a.101 N Edwin Booth calls her "La Capitaine Cushman!" Y.c.215 (129); signed by many important contemporaries
Album presented by the United States Sanitary Commission, New York branch, to Charlotte Cushman [manuscript], ca. 1864. T.a.102 N signed by many important contemporaries
Album presented by the United States Sanitary Commission, Boston Branch, to Charlotte Cushman [manuscript], ca. 1864. T.a.103 N signed by many important contemporaries
Autograph letters signed from Charlotte Cushman to various recipients [manuscript], 1843-1875. Y.c.968 (1-40) N
The plays of William Shakspeare PR2752 1843c copy 2 Sh.Col. N Charlotte Cushman copy
Charlotte Cushman [graphic] by Thomas Sully. FPb47 Digital image
Autograph letter signed from John Thompson Ford, Ford’s [Theatre], Baltimore, to [Lilian Adelaide] Neilson [manuscript], 1875 May 12. W.b.59, fol. 28 (c) N
Autograph letters signed from John T. Ford to William Winter [manuscript], 1873-1880. Y.c.6830 (1-20) N
Autograph letters signed from John Thompson Ford, Baltimore, to various people [manuscript], 1862-1894. Y.c.958 (1-8) N specific Civil War/assassination mentions
Autograph letters signed from John Thompson Ford to various recipients [manuscript], 1864-1888. Y.c.4011 (1-16) N (3) refers to the wound in Edwin Booth’s hand
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth to John Thompson Ford [manuscript], 1875 December 12. W.b.512 before p. 131 N
Autograph letters signed from William Winter to various recipients [manuscript], [1884]-1894. W.a.231 N Contains John Thompson Ford correspondence
The winter’s tale : a play in five acts PR2839 .A333 Sh.Col. N Provenance: John T. Ford 1858
John T. Ford [graphic]. ART Vol. b15 no.73 N
Autograph letters signed from Charles E. Ford to William Winter [manuscript], 1880-1894. Y.c.6828 (1-3) N Charles Ford announces death of his father to William Winter
[Bracelet of Edwin Booth’s hair] [realia]. ART Inv. 1178 Digital image
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, New York, to Adam Badeau, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1862 September 14 Y.c.215 (9) N Tells Badeau that he is mostly idle and gets very little news of the war. Wishes for his safety and mentions that he has heard rumors that the rebels are in retreat. Letters to Badeau Y.c.215 (8-26, 194)
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, New York, to Adam Badeau, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1863 July 3 Y.c.215 (10) N Expresses disappointment that Badeau has not been to visit and discusses the war's impact on friends and family. Letters to Badeau Y.c.215 (8-26, 194)
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, New York, to Adam Badeau, New York City, between November 1861 and April 1864 Y.c.215 (13) N Describes a dream he had about Badeau and indicates that he will be playing Hamlet for some time. Letters to Badeau Y.c.215 (8-26, 194)
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, Philadelphia, to Adam Badeau, Washington, DC, 19th century September 26 Y.c.215 (15) N Asks for news of Badeau and the war and mentions playing Hamlet. Letters to Badeau Y.c.215 (8-26, 194)
"Letter in support of President Lincoln" Y.c.215 (16) Digital image Letters to Badeau Y.c.215 (8-26, 194)
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, Chicago, to Ferdinand Cartwright Ewer, 1877 April 27 Y.c.215 (87) N Concerns Mark Gray's recent attempt to assassinate him.
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, New York, to George Hughes Hepworth, Boston, Massachusetts, 1866 January 16 Y.c.215 (116) N Comments at length about his temporary retirement (following the Lincoln assassination) and his recent return to the stage, which he describes as "partial relief from the cloud which has fallen so heavily across my life." Indicates that crowds come to the theater "to witness, night after night, the sublimity of Shakespeare's works."
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, Gloucester, Massachusetts, to William Winter, 1872 November 10 Y.c.215 (219) N Writes about Gloucester, Winter's birthplace, and shares remembrances of Winter's father. Asks "Do you really think Shakespeare predicted Grant's re-election when he said a Tanner would last you some eight or nine year?"
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, Toledo, Ohio, to William Winter, 1874 February 17 Y.c.215 (221) N Thanks Winter for a positive review; refers back to "sadder times" and the "perpetual parade of my misfortune" and ongoing financial troubles.
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, Louisville, to William Winter, 1876 March 14 Y.c.215 (229) N Indicates that all through the South, he has been "greeted with discraceful anecdotes about my Father (all in the main false or exaggerated)." These anecdotes include that his father was a slaveholder (untrue).
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, London, to William Winter, 1880 November 29 Y.c.215 (378) N Expresses concern about an article that refers to his early apprenticeship playing blackface characters like Dandy Cox, explaining that "the troubadour business is not regarded as very reputable" in London. Mentions Richelieu and Hamlet.
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, Boston, to William Winter, 1881 December 6 Y.c.215 (407) N Speculates about the source of recent unfavorable articles about him and "John" in the Boston Herald.
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, Boston, to William Winter, 1884 June 18 Y.c.215 (464) N Complains about a rumor published in a Baltimore newspaper.
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth to William Winter, 1885 December 7 Y.c.215 (478) N Expresses dismay at seeing frequent references to "the skeleton in my closet" and comments on his futile attempts to write his reminiscences.
Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth, Boston, to William Winter : fragment, 1886? July 17 Y.c.215 (485) N Thanks Winter for his "refutation of the silly + malicious report" that Junius Brutus Booth owned slaves. Muses at length on death and immortality, with references to Othello, Hamlet, and Julius Caesar. Refers to plans to sell Boothden to support his "son-(of a b---h) in-law, who does nothing but spend money."
The Players, Booth, our Hamlet ... [graphic] by Thomas Nast, 1890. ART File B725.4 no.41 (size XS) Digital image
Costume worn by Edwin Booth in the role of Richard III 12-4-08-06 Boo Digital image
[Edwin Booth as Richard III in Shakespeare’s play] [graphic] / sc. Henry Linton. ART File B725.4 no.82 (size XS) Digital image
Costume worn by Edwin Booth as Iago in Othello 12-4-08-10 Boo Digital image
[Two pictures of Edwin Booth, mounted together in the roles of Shakespeare’s Othello and Iago] [graphic]. ART File B725.4 no.81 (size S) Digital image
Richard III / Adapted to representation by Colley Cibber, as played by Kemble, Cooke, and Kean. And re-produced at the Park Theatre, New York, Jan. 7th, 1846. PROMPT Rich.III 26 Shakespeare in Performance ( available via subscription database) Used mainly at the Boston Museum apparently to prompt productions starring J. Wilkes Booth, J. H. Finn (?), Jas. Wallack Junr., Mr. Couldock, and Walter Montgomery whose names appear in the volume.
Theory, practice, effect: Bickley, head of the Knights of the Golden Circle: Booth, the assassin: A.L., the martyr president: [3 caricatures, political cartoon] [graphic]. ART Vol. b2 no.301 N
The murderers doom, miserable death of J. Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln, shot through the head by Sargeant Boston Corbett in a barn on Garrett’s farm, near Port Royal, near the Rappahannock, April 25, 1865 [graphic]. ART Vol. b2 no.278 N
John Wilkes Booth, the assassin [graphic]. ART File B725.5 no.1 PHOTO (size XS) N
Wilkes ART Vol. a6 no.51 PHOTO Digital image
J. Wilkes Booth [graphic]. ART File B725.5 no.4 PHOTO (size M) N
The capture of John Wilkes Booth [graphic] : the assassin of President Lincoln / W. R. Leigh. ART Vol. a6 no.50 N
The assassination [of President Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth] at Ford’s Theatre [graphic] / J. M. Nevin. ART Vol. b2 no. 256 N
[4 scenes depicting events surrounding the assassination of Lincoln and the flight and pursuit of John Wilkes Booth] [graphic] / Albert Berghaus. ART Vol.b2 no.249, 251, 253, 259 N
Autograph letters signed from Mary Cornelia Owens, Baltimore, to various recipients [manuscript], 1893-1897. Y.c.2020 (1-2) N Recipients: William Winter and Mrs. William Winter (letter to the latter addressed "My dearest friend"). Both largely concern the Booth family, including Junius Brutus, both his first and second wives (Adelaide and Mary Ann), and his sons Richard, Edwin and John Wilkes. One letter signed "M.C. Owens," the other "Corrie Owens." Both letters sent from 909 St. Paul Street. With (2), the accompanying envelope addressed to Mrs. Winter at 17 Third Avenue, New Brighton, Staten Island, N.Y.
A husband at sight : a farce in two acts / by J.B. Buckstone PROMPT H36 N Inside back cover: J[unius] B[rutus] Booth [Jr.]
The bride of Lammermoor : a drama in five acts / by John William Calcraft PROMPT B37 N Inscribed on cover and throughout: J[unius] B[rutus] Booth [Jr.]
Brian Boroihme, or, The maid of Erin : a historical Hibernian melo-drama in three acts : as performed at the Theatres Royal, Dublin, and Belfast : also at the Philadelphia and New-York theatres : now first printed / by James S. Knowles ... PROMPT B35 N Inscribed J[unius] B[rutus] Booth [Jr.] on front cover, title page, p. [3], 17, 27, 39, and 40.
The lady of Lyons, or, Love and pride : a play in five acts / by Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer ... with the stage directions ... PROMPT L6 N In ink on cover: Booth; in pencil on p. [9]: J[unius] B[rutus] Booth [Jr.]
Bertram : a tragedy in five acts / by Rev. Charles Maturin ; with the stage business, cast of characters, relative positions, etc. PROMPT B23 N Stamped on front cover and inscribed on paper cover: J[unius] B[rutus] Booth [Jr.]
Brutus, or, The fall of Tarquin : an historical tragedy, in five acts / by John Howard Payne ; first represented at the Theatre Royal, Drury-Lane, on Thursday evening, Dec. 3, 1818. PROMPT B42 Inscribed on front cover: J.B. Booth New York Theatre; on title page and throughout: J.B. Booth. Stamped on p. [7]: J.B. Booth Jr.
King John. : A tragedy in five acts ... With the stage business ... Also, a list of authorities for costumes / by Charles Kean ... As produced ... at the Park Theatre. PROMPT John 2 Shakespeare in Performance ( available via subscription database) "Booth" in ink on cloth front wrapper; several manuscript stage directions mention "Mr. Booth".
King John. : A tragedy in five acts ... With the stage business ... Also, a list of authorities for costumes, by Charles Kean ... As produced ... at the Park Theatre. PROMPT John 1 Shakespeare in Performance ( available via subscription database) "J. B. Booth" in ink on front cover; in ink on p. 68 is: J B Booth San Francisco Cal July 23, l857. Part of a playbill pasted on final flyleaf (Julia Dean Hayne as Constance; J. B. Booth as King John).
Much ado about nothing. : A comedy, in five acts ... With the stage business ... PROMPT Mu.Ad. 1 Shakespeare in Performance ( available via subscription database) Perhaps used in productions staged by J. B. Booth [Jr.].
Romeo and Juliet. : A tragedy in five acts ... With the stage business ... PROMPT Rom. 4 Shakespeare in Performance ( available via subscription database) In blue pencil on front paper cover title: J. B. Booth Prompt Book; slip pasted on p. 67 has J. B. Booth’s autograph in ink. In ink on front wrapper: H. C. Ford, Fords Theatre Washington DC
Hamlet PROMPT Ham. 7 Shakespeare in Performance ( available via subscription database) Label on front cover: J.B. Booth Jr.
Julius Caesar. : A tragedy, In five acts ... Printed from the acting copy, with remarks ... To which are added ... the whole of the stage business. As now performed at the Theatres-Royal, London, and at the New-York Theatres. PROMPT Jul.Caes. 2 Shakespeare in Performance ( available via subscription database) Autograph on cover: J B Booth Jr.
[King Richard III. : A tragedy ... Adapted for theatrical representation. As performed at the Theatres-Royal, Drury-Lane and Covent-Garden. Regulated from the prompt-book ...]. PROMPT Rich.III 3 Shakespeare in Performance ( available via subscription database) In ink on front cover: J B Booth Jr.
Diary of Junius Brutus Booth [manuscript], 1864. Y.d.374 N Travel and rehearsal diary for Junius Brutus Booth Jr., Edwin Booth, and John Wilkes Booth
Junius Brutus Booth [Junior] at 35 [graphic]. ART Vol. a6 no.106c N
[Two photos, one of J. B. Booth, Jr. and one of Mrs. Booth (née Agnes Land Perry) [graphic] : and a playbill of the Boston Theater benefit production of As you like it and Taming of the shrew]. ART File B725.65 no.1 copy 1 PHOTO (size M) N
Autograph letter signed from Junius Brutus Booth to unidentified recipient [manuscript], [19th century]. Y.c.200 (1) N
Autograph letters signed from Junius Brutus Booth to Augustin Daly [manuscript], 1868-1875? Y.c.2733 (1-4) N
Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace (room in which Shakespeare was born) [graphic] / [Amos Webster]. Lieut. Gen’l Grant and staff / taken by Gardner abt. 1865. ART File S899h1 no.61 (size L) N On reverse: Photograph (8 7/8 x 12 1/4 in.): Lieut Gen’l Grant and staff, signed: "Thos. Nast Esq. Compliments of Col. Amos Webster. Washington, D.C., Mch. 27, ’95". Pencil note: "Taken by Gardner abt. 1865".
Autograph letter signed from John Russell Young to William Winter [manuscript], 19th century. Y.c.2572 N Young reminds Winter of their dinner to meet General Grant. He knows Mr. Jefferson (presumably Joe Jefferson) is not free for dinner, but suggests that Winter and Jefferson come to the Reform Club on Sunday.
As you like it. : A comedy in five acts ... PROMPT AYLI 15 Shakespeare in Performance ( available via subscription database) Modjeska stamped on spine. Contains a letter (1 of 2 in pocket) stating that "It is the copy Madam always used." Perfomed in Washington, D.C. before William Tecumseh Sherman.
Autograph letter signed from William Tecumseh Sherman to Mr. Elliott [manuscript], 1875 December 15. W.b.511, after p. 120 N
Autograph letters signed from W[illiam] T[ecumseh] Sherman to Augustin Daly [manuscript], 1880-1891. Y.c.4963 (1-23) N Twenty-one mostly autograph letters signed W.T. Sherman and 2 calling cards. (21) is a note from the general’s family asking Daly to be a member of the funeral party.
7th Regiment Amusement Association! ...Fort Federal Hill, Baltimore, Aug. 8th, 1862. The Regimental Band... will be followed by the celebrated Trial Scene from The Merchant of Venice!... After which, the Burlesque Tragic Opera of Bombastes Furioso... the whole to conclue with The Tattoo To be beaten from the Stage by the Drum Corps, under the direction of Major Graham [Playbill]. PLAYBILL 261129 Digital image
Julius Caesar (3 Booths) Bill Box U4 W78 1864-65 no. 2a N
Autograph letters signed from Emmons Clark, Colonel of the 7th regiment, New York, to Augustin Daly [manuscript], 1879. Y.c.4628 (1-3) N In 1862, the Union Army’s 7th Regiment was camped at Baltimore. Their ‘Amusement Association’ acted the Trial Scene from The Merchant of Venice, accompanied by music performed by the Regimental Band and a comic afterpiece, the whole ending with a tattoo (musical performance) by the Drum Corps.
Autograph letter signed from George Brinton McClellan, New York, to Augustin Daly [manuscript], [1881]. Y.c.4469 (1) N
Autograph notes by Walt Whitman [manuscript], 19th century. Y.d.1036 (1-3) Digital images (1), with partially effaced title "Course of lectures on poems," lists The Bible - Hebraic poems, the Homeric poems, and Shakespeare, among others. (2) is a similar, but longer list. (3) is a single leaf that appears to be part of a draft for Whitman’s section on George Fox (and Shakspere) in November boughs.
Poetry today in America -- Shakespeare -- the future [manuscript], 1881. S.a.106 Digital images Page proofs of an article for the February 1881 number of The North American review, p. 195-210; Corrected with many changes; in Whitman’s autograph.
Shakspere for America [manuscript], 1890. Y.d.1035 Digital images Autograph draft of Walt Whitman’s contribution to the September 1890 Poet-Lore. Consists of the first two paragraphs only.
What lurks behind Shakspere’s historical plays? [manuscript], ca. 1884. S.b.89 Digital images Autograph manuscript with Whitman’s pencilled instructions to the printer. Whitman argues that the histories mark "the inauguration of modern democracy." A typewritten copy is available.
Autograph letter signed from Walt Whitman, Camden, N.J., to Edward Dowden, Dublin [manuscript], 1876 January 14. Y.c.2538 Digital images Whitman states that he finds Dowden’s Shakspere "full of vitality & suggestiveness on themes that might be supposed exhausted years ago - but are not at all exhausted." Also refers a visit from John Burroughs and mentions W.M. Rossetti and M.D. Conway. With envelope addressed to Dowden at Temple Road, Winstead, Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland.
Printed card from Walt Whitman, New York, to [Augustin Daly] [manuscript], 1887 [April]. Y.c.5210 (1) Digital images Announces he will be at home on Thursday, April 14, 1887.
The complete works of William Shakespeare : from the text of Johnson, Steevens & Reed: with biographical sketch by Mary Cowden Clarke. PR2754 1k1 copy 2 Sh.Col. Digital images Autographed letter from Thomas Donaldson to Henry Irving, dated Feby. 12th 1893, pasted on front endpaper. Plate inserted with Walt Whitman’s autograph and portrait. Autograph: Walt Whitman. Autograph: Thomas Donaldson, from Walt Whitman at his hands in Camden, N.J., December 20, 1891. In manuscript: Phil., Pa., Feby 12th 1894, I give this copy of Shakespeare [was?] the property of Walt Whitman to Henry Irving, actor of London, England. Bookplate: Henry Irving. Printed essay by Walt Whitman, autographed by the author, folded and tipped in before the biographical sketch. Paper with manuscript notes pasted in before the Poems. Some manuscript markings. Publisher’s cloth binding; gilt top edge.
[Poems. Locken. 1847] PR2841 1847a copy1 Sh.Col. Digital images Walt Whitman copy