Posts filed under: Letters & Documents

Very occasionally Irish American pension files contain beautiful documents that were created as a record of the family’s origins and growth (for a previous examination of one, see here). The adoption of Family Registers to note down births, marriages and...
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Over the years I have come to realise how extremely rare it is to be able to identify precisely where in Ireland ordinary American Civil War servicemen originated. There are only a handful of times where sufficient information has survived...
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Though we tend not to associate Dublin with large-scale nineteenth century emigration, many thousands of people departed the city and county in the years before the American Civil War. Substantial numbers lost their lives during the conflict, as the widows...
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On 17th June 1862 a Confederate shell arced through the sky from a battery positioned atop the Saint Charles bluffs on the White River, Arkansas. As it plunged donwards into the Union ironclad USS Mound City, it ruptured her steam...
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A great strength of letters drawn from the widows and dependent pension files is the openness of their content on social and familial issues. With letter collections passed down through families or donated to major repositories, we always have to...
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The citations that accompanied Civil War era Medal of Honor awards tend to provide us with precious little detail. Regularly restricted to one or two lines, they often lack description, and do little to transmit the horrors of the sights...
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Like many I have had a number of events cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. One talk that fell victim was for the Kilrush and District Historical Society, where I had hoped to discuss stories of local men and...
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One battlefield. One regiment. Three bodies. Three families. A story of Step Migration, Chain Migration, and Americanisation- and of the Kerry diaspora in Ireland, Canada and America. As the last wisps of lingering gunsmoke departed the woods and ravines of...
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In May 1913, Cork emigrant Timothy Sullivan approached a Commissioner of Oaths in Liverpool. He wanted the man to write and witness a letter for him. Though he could sign his own name, the 66-year-old was not confident enough to...
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A special podcast that features a talk I gave to the Lough Gur Historical Society in December 2019. It describes why I believe the American pension files are such a major resource for uncovering the ordinary lives of the 19th...
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