LINCOLN & CIVIL WAR SCHOLAR FREDERICK HILL MESERVE

F.H. Meserve Archive: Notable Civil War and Lincoln Photography Scholar

Item #19620


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LINCOLN & CIVIL WAR SCHOLAR FREDERICK HILL MESERVE - F.H. Meserve Archive: Notable Civil War and Lincoln Photography Scholar
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LINCOLN & CIVIL WAR SCHOLAR FREDERICK HILL MESERVE - F.H. Meserve Archive: Notable Civil War and Lincoln Photography Scholar

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LINCOLN & CIVIL WAR SCHOLAR FREDERICK HILL MESERVE. Archive of 14 letters related to New York’s Civil War Round Table of New York and his important photography collection. Including one signed photograph of Meserve accompanied by photographs of President and Mary Todd Lincoln made from original glass negatives by Matthew B. Brady in Meserve’s collection. Letters to the notable Civil War scholar and autograph collector ARNOLD F. GATES (1914-1993) date from June 6, 1941 to April 21, 1960. Excerpts include:

 

It is true that I have made friends (and friends are better than rubies) perhaps because of, or at least in spite of, my study of Civil War history. You were good to write me, and to write your name in your little book which is a moving chapter in the life of Lincoln, and an essay on Friendship. I have somewhere in my much too large collection of negatives and photographs, a small negative of Joshua Speed, and when I find it I will have a print made so that you may slip it in your own copy of Amberglow…” June 6, 1941

 

“So far as I know Lincoln was never photographed in Ohio…” July 8, 1941

 

“…Enclosed are three excellent photographs of Gen Sherman which I have had the photographer make from the original Brady negatives…” June 6, 1951

 

“…You will be interested to know that I am working on Supplement No. 4 to my book ‘The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln’ of 1911which will contain 6 more or less known portraits, not published by me…” March 23, 1955

 

I find it hard to put in words how touched and really overcome I am on reading the too generous words of the Placque [sic] presented to me this February 12, 1960 by the Civil War Round Table of New York. I shall place this beautifully illuminated tribute on the desk in my Lincoln Library where it will give me constant pleasure. I know it will be valued by my children’s children. I am happy to think they will read what you have written concerning the Meserve Collection and my fortunate association with Lincoln Scholars of the past sixty years..” February 12, 1960

 

Frederick Hill Meserve (1865-1962) was the son of Union Major William Neal Meserve, who served under Grant. “The twice-wounded veteran abandoned his family to become a preacher. Decades later, when Frederick tracked down his father, he suggested that the man publish his war diaries. Frederick offered to find pictures to illustrate the volume,” (“All in the Family With Lincoln,” The New York Times¸ Gonzalez).Beginning in 1897, “Frederick Meserve and his descendants went on to amass a collection that has grown through the decades. Recently acquired by Yale University, it consists of 68,000 images, as well as 2,000 other items, including documents and ephemera. His daughter, Dorothy, was his closest collaborator and became a respected Lincoln scholar in her own right (although she is perhaps best known for her children’s books, especially “Pat the Bunny.”),” (ibid.).  The result of the family’s devotion is an “unrivaled collection of images of Lincoln, as well as his contemporaries, from glass plate negatives and daguerreotypes to cartes de visite and salt prints... [through the assembling of which Meserve and his family] became the keepers of the great president’s image, consulted by engravers of the $5 bill and the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial,” (ibid.). The collection totaling 68,000 images plus documents and ephemera was acquired by Yale University in 2015. 

 

Gates, a well-respected amateur historian of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, devoted 50 years to researching those subjects, reviewing books for the Lincoln Herald and contributing to such works as the anthology Lincoln for the Ages. He was an avid letter writer and “friend and unofficial agent of many a noted author,” (“Autographica Curiosa: How Not to Impress Emily Post,” Autograph Magazine, Butts).

 

In very fine condition.

 

 

Item #19620


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