Old friend Rick Sauers tipped me off to the existence of ArchiveGrid, a new searchable database of available manuscript collections held at various institutions. For researchers who like to make extensive use of unpublished manuscript materials in their work, this is a truly indispensable tool. While they’re getting things ramped up and doing beta testing, access to the site is free. It will only be free until the end of June, and then it will become a for-pay service. Many thanks to Rick for bringing this extremely valuable tool to my attention.

I had my first chance to check it out last night for the first time. I did multiple searches on ArchiveGrid, looking for manuscripts that are pertinent to my various pending projects. I searched for material on John Hunt Morgan’s Indiana and Ohio Raid of 1863, Ulric Dahlgren, the 6th Michigan Cavalry (I am debating whether to do a regimental history of this unit, and am leaning toward doing one), and finally, the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry, which is also known as Rush’s Lancers.

Some of you might recall that before we went on vacation, I made a post here, crowing about how I had finally finished my new regimental history of the Lancers after years and years of work, and that I had submitted the manuscript to the publisher. I was celebrating what I thought was the completion of a project that has lasted for more than a decade. Apparently, and to my very great embarrassment, I spoke too soon.

My search on ArchiveGrid last night turned up a complete set of letters by a trooper of the Lancers that I had never seen or heard of previously. This set of letters was by a member of Company K, and was apparently hiding in plain sight. This collection of letters, by a fellow named Henry Inch Cowan, is in the manuscripts collection at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I had gotten some material from Penn earlier in the course of my research, so it never even occurred to me that there might be additional material there, let alone a very large set of letters that I had completely missed.

Fortunately, my contract with the publisher doesn’t call for submission of the manuscript until June 30, so I have just over a month to get this stuff and get it incorporated into the main body of the manuscript. I called my researcher in Philadelphia today, and told him about the urgency of getting this material, and he’s going to get it for me in the next ten days or so. If he does, that will leave me plenty of time to get this stuff incorporated into the manuscript.

After twelve long years of researching this regiment, I’m stunned that there’s a major collection of primary source material out there that I had somehow missed. Fortunately, I found it with sufficient time to permit me to obtain the material and to incorporate it into the manuscript without missing my submission date or otherwise jeopardizing the projected October 31 publication date for the book. All I can say is, “whew!”

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Andy
    Wed 24th May 2006 at 10:56 pm

    Eric, I have been using this site for about a month now and it is a great resource. I found a few items myself. Of course finding them and getting them are two different things. I guess you can say the research never ends.

    Regards,
    Andy

  2. Thu 25th May 2006 at 9:22 am

    Andy,

    It’s a great resource. I just wish it had been around sooner.

    Eric

  3. Thu 25th May 2006 at 2:31 pm

    Last night, Eric had also run across two sources that would have likely provided great material for our Stuart’s Ride book, too – too bad we weren’t aware of these previously. As anyone familiar with Eric’s posts on this book is aware, we had already put last-minute stuff into it that pretty much drove our publisher bonkers. The book is already in galley and it’s far too late to add anything now.

    This archive site is one I’ll definitely be subscribing to. Great resource.

    J.D. Petruzzi

  4. Paul Taylor
    Sat 27th May 2006 at 10:03 pm

    Eric,

    Thanks for mentioning ArchiveGrid! I wasn’t aware of it either. I’m sitting here watching the game and in the time it takes the Pistons to turn the ball over yet again, I discovered two very interesting items for the bio I’m working on.

    Speaking of which, I wholeheartedly agree that there are ample lesser known figures worthy of biographical treatment. Do we really need another tome on Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, et al?

    Paul

  5. Sat 27th May 2006 at 10:13 pm

    Paul,

    You’re very welcome. Hopefully, you will find some more useful material there.

    And you are, of course, quite correct about the bios. However, it’s one of those things–if they didn’t sell, they wouldn’t get published.

    Eric

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