Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review--Civil War Paper Items

Dickinson, Jack L. Civil War Paper Items: The Rosanna A. Blake Confederate Collection Marshall University. Pictorial Histories Publishing Co. Charleston, WV, 2005, 122 pages, index, bibliography, notes, color & b/w photos. ISBN 1575101181, $14.95.

Civil War Paper Items - The Rosanna A. Blake Confederate Collection Marshall UniversityThere are those out there with the time, money, and dedication to build top notch collections. Then there are the libraries, historical societies and museums lucky enough to receive these collections as gifts or bequests. This brief book touches on the story of one such collection.

Rosanna Blake's collection began at the tender age of 10 with the gift of the book The Heart of Lee from her mother. She later earned degrees from Marshall University, Ohio University, and a law degree from the University of Kentucky. Her career afforded her the opportunity financially and time wise to expand her library which began almost exclusively devoted to Robert E. Lee. As Lee material became more difficult to find she expanded her interests to a point that included material related to all aspects of the Confederacy. When she passed away in 1987 her will stipulated that the Confederate Collection be donated to Marshall University.

Rosanna Blake in her library.

The collection now totals over 4,000 monographs and 3,000 imprints. Also included is a microfilm library of Civil War era southern newspapers. Ms. Blake also had a large collection of music that was printed in Confederate states, photos, and other paper items.

Marshall University has an excellent website dedicated to the collection that you may access here. Included in the site is a list of holdings that is broken down by category. Quite an interesting way to spend some time.

The book itself is small and is broken down by item type. Sections include documents and manuscript items, entertainment, tracts and religious printings, Confederate bonds and money, caches and letterheads, government imprints, carte-de-vistes, prints and sketches, wallpaper printings, miscellaneous, and veteran organizations.

Obviously with this many subjects none can be covered in depth with the space limitations of the book. Each chapter begins with a brief, usually one page description of the category. After this are the photos and descriptions. Some items are described in more detail than others and most contain catalog numbers from the library.

This is an interesting book that should appeal to those who collect Civil War paper items and is a must view for those collecting Confederate paper. This is not a reference or teaching book and you aren't going to learn much on collecting or on the various subjects. There are no prices so don't look to use this for valuations. What you will get however is the chance to view some really neat items that most of us would never see otherwise.

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