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Tag: murder

The 150th Anniversary of the United States Colored Troops

Today’s blog post comes from archives specialist Jackie Budell.

On May 22, 1863, the War Department issued General Orders 143, establishing a Bureau of Colored Troops in the Adjutant General’s Office to recruit and organize African American soldiers to fight for the Union Army. With this order, all African American regiments were designated as United States Colored Troops (USCT).

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the USCT, and the National Archives is pleased to announce the completion of the USCT Service Records Digitization Project. In partnership with Fold3, the project provides online access to all service records—more than 3.8 million images—of Union volunteers in USCT units.

From May 22 to 31, the digital collection will be free on www.Fold3.com. (All National Archives collections on Fold3.com can always be viewed for free at any National Archives facility nationwide.)

Compiled military service records (CMSRs) are part of Record Group 94, the Records of the Adjutant General’s Office. They contain card abstracts of entries related to an individual soldier such as muster rolls and regimental returns.

Many CMSRs also contain original documents called “personal papers,” which are especially valuable to researchers looking for documentation on former slaves. These papers include enlistment papers, correspondence, orders, prisoner-of-war memorandums, casualty reports, or final statements. Unique to the records of the USCT are deeds of manumission, proofs of slave ownership, … [ Read all ]

Lizzie Borden took a….trip

On June 20, 1893, Lizzie Borden was declared innocent of the crime of murdering her father and stepmother.

The National Archives holds a little piece of her history from before the murders. A month before her 30th birthday, Lizzie Borden of Fall River, Massachusetts, had sailed for Europe.

In the late 1800s, more and more Americans ventured abroad. The well-off sailed to Europe to see the sights and acquire culture. Novelists such Henry James and Edith Wharton were traveling themselves and writing about Americans abroad.

Lizzie’s passport application for this trip, signed by her on June 4, 1890, is now in the National Archives. Passports were not required at that time, but the State Department issued almost 370,000 between 1877 and 1909. The National Archives holds passport applications from October 1795 to March 1925.

Photographs were not required for passports until the end of 1914, so on Lizzie Borden’s application, there is only a written “description of applicant.” Lizzie declared that she is five feet, three inches tall with grey eyes, light brown hair, and a “full” face. Her signature appears below the oath of allegiance, and she requests that the passport be sent to Thomas J. Borden of Fall River, a distant cousin.

Thomas Borden’s two daughters, Carrie and Anna, were among the women traveling with Lizzie, and their applications were also filed on … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: A bushy beard, a murder, and a missing arm

Today’s Facial Hair Friday is not a case of mistaken identity. Jefferson Davis was arrested for murder.

But this Jefferson Davis was not the president of the Confederate States. This one was a Union officer, with nearly the same name. Jefferson Columbus Davis was a brigadier general in the Union Army when he shot and killed a superior officer, Maj. Gen. William Nelson, after an altercation at a hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.

Although Davis was arrested, he was never convicted, but instead was sent back into the Army.  Charges were never pressed against him. After the war, he continued with the Army as the first commander of the “Department of Alaska.”

But there is a question of identity for Jefferson C. Davis.

Gen. Davis appears again in a group photo, identified at the far left. His arm appears to have been amputated, but I can’t find any mention of the event where he was wounded. Is he the man on the far left, or is he the man standing, second from the right? The beards make it somewhat hard to tell. Or do any of our readers know what happened to Davis’s arm?… [ Read all ]