“Every now and again we can thank the pack rats of the world that historic treasures remain to be discovered in attics, basements, and forgotten archives. This collection is one such gift from the past.”
“(T)he collection of 168 letters published in this volume shines light on the indispensable role letter writing played during the Civil War. Fortunately, for those interested in civilian life during this period, the editors have provided us with a much richer analysis, from the roles these letters played in war to the insight they provide of changing social culture.”
Indiana Magazine of History
“An unexpected bonus in the book is the extensive introduction to the letters written by Lucy Bailey…. Dr. Bailey ties many specific letters into…larger issues, adding to the value of reading the letters themselves and making the book of interest to a much broader range of readers and researchers.”
Ohio Civil War Genealogy Journal
Wanted-Correspondence is a unique collection of more than 150 letters written to an Ohio serviceman during the American Civil War offers glimpses of women’s lives as they waited, worked, and wrote from the Ohio home front. The letters reveal fascinating details of the lives of mostly young, single women—friends, acquaintances, love interests, and strangers who responded to one Union soldier’s advertisement for cor respondents. Almost all of the women who responded to Lieutenant Edwin Lewis Lybarger’s lonely-hearts newspaper advertisement lived in Ohio and supported the Union. Lybarger carried the collection of letters throughout three years of military service, preserved them through his life, and left them to be discovered in an attic trunk more than a century after Lee’s surrender.
Women’s letter writing functioned as a form of “war work” that bolstered the spirits of enlisted men and “kinship work” that helped forge romantic relationships and sustain community bonds across the miles. While men’s letters and diaries abound in Civil War history, less readily available are comprehensive collections of letters from middle-class and rural women that survived the weathering of marches, camp life, and battles to emerge unscathed from men’s knapsacks at war’s end.
The collection is accompanied by a detailed editorial introduction that highlights significant themes in the letters. Together, they contribute to the still-unfolding historical knowledge concerning Northern women’s lives and experiences during this significant period in American history.
Nancy L. Rhoades, the granddaughter of Lieutenant Lybarger, was director of cataloging at the College of Wooster and is the author of Croquet, a history of the game. She died in April 2007.
Lucy E. Bailey is an assistant professor of social foundations and qualitative research at Oklahoma State University and serves as core faculty in the Women’s Studies program.
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