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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 1910

Robert Gould Shaw letters to his family and other papers


Letters and other papers of the American military commander Robert Gould Shaw.


  • Creation: 1852-1947
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1855-1863

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to original material is restricted. Entire collection has been digitized and readers must use digital surrogates.

Conditions Governing Use

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.


1 linear feet (2 boxes)

The bulk of the collection consists of letters by Robert Gould Shaw to his family, including 98 letters to his mother, 31 to his father, and some to his sisters and brothers-in-law. Most were written during the Civil War, though some to his parents are from his pre-soldier days when he traveled in Europe and was a student at Harvard. Also contains a memorial poem to Shaw by James Russell Lowell, correspondence and genealogical notes of the Barlow family (one of Shaw's sisters married Francis Channing Barlow), and a box of notes for a biography of Shaw by Louisa Barlow Jay.

Biographical / Historical

Shaw, of Massachusetts, was colonel of the first black regiment to serve with the Union Army during the Civil War. He and over half his regiment were killed in battle at Fort Wagner, South Carolina on July 18, 1863.


Arranged alphabetically by author.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

*74M-57. Gift of Mrs. Lloyd K. Garrison, Mrs. Alexander D. Harvey, Frances Jay, and Mrs. Lawrence Fox; received: 1975.

2013M-85. Purchased with funds from the Harmand Teplow Class of 1920 Book Fund and the Louis J. Appell Jr. Fund for Early American Literature and History; received: 2014 March 11.

2013M-102. Purchased with funds from the Louis J. Appell Jr. Fund for Early American Literature and History and the Harmand Teplow Class of 1920 Book Fund; received: 2014 May 6.

Shaw, Robert Gould, 1837-1863. Robert Gould Shaw letters to his family and other papers: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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