Links to the Letters
Images of the Mss. Pages
Timeline of the Letters
Map of the Ohio River

Portrait of William B. Anderson Manuscript detail reading 'Dear Wife' Portrait of Mary Louisa Anderson

Markup Guidelines
Guide to Anderson's Hand
Comments and Corrections
About the Editors

The Letters of William B. Anderson to Mary Louisa (Fischgens) Anderson, 1862–1864

This edition is still being proofed. Please do not cite this preview until this notice is removed.
The editors welcome suggestions and corrections (see link above).

About the Edition

The Editorial Team. Working in cooperation with the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at The Ohio State University, and under the direction of Professor H. Lewis Ulman, principal editor, a team of undergraduate students edited this collection of the William B. Anderson letters during the spring of 2006. In order to provide each student with the opportunity to work through a wide range of editorial problems, the edition comprises eighteen distinct editions, each with its own editorial introduction, coordinated by a set of project guidelines and this Web site.

Project Guidelines and Standards. The XML Version of the Text Encoding Initiative Guidelines (TEI P4) informed the project's markup guidelines (see the link at the top of this page). The editorial team also consulted the Modern Language Association's Committee on Scholarly Edition Guidelines as well as recommendations by various essays included in an online pre-print of Electronic Textual Editing. More detailed information about editorial methods can be found in the editorial introduction accompanying each letter.

Navigating the Edition. Each page of this Web site contains an identical navigation bar at the top of the screen. Links from the "Links to the Letters" page lead to various views of each of the letters. Within each of those views, links at the top of the page labeled "Home" lead back to this page; other links lead to other views of a given letter.

Detail from a letter reading &rlquo;Your Affectionate Husband’

About the William B. Anderson Letters

Managing domestic affairs and sustaining familial bonds when family members are separated for long periods by great distances; the rhetoric and logistics of mid-nineteenth-century correspondence in the U.S. heartland; the economic, logistical, and physical challenges of the riverboat business, especially on a waterway as critical as the Ohio River in the midst of the American Civil War; the uncertainties, vicissitudes, and suffering faced by civilians and soldiers alike in wartime—these are the broad topics about which William Anderson repeatedly writes to his wife Mary Louisa during the summers of 1862, 1863, and 1864.

All but two of the letters were written from Cincinnati, Ohio, a thriving center of commerce on the Ohio River approximately halfway between the river's source at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and its confluence with the Mississippi River a mile or so south of Cairo, Illinois. The remaining two letters in the collection were written from St. Louis, Missouri and Pittsburgh, the Anderson's home, though Anderson mentions writing from Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee as well.

According to Geoffrey Smith, Head of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at The Ohio State University, the university purchased the autograph, signed letters in 2005, in part because they fit into a larger goal of acquiring materials that reveal the "common man's view of great events," and war letters are one focus of that larger effort. The passing of time has made the everyday information in the letters newly valuable, and the letters poignantly evoke the emotional fabric of everyday life, especially when it becomes frayed in the course of national events.