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Francis H. Smith European Travel Letter Books and Related, 1858

 Collection
Francis H. Smith European Travel Letter Book, Volume 1, Transcription. [Digital]
Francis H. Smith European Travel Letter Book, Volume 1, Transcription. [Digital]
Francis H. Smith European Travel Letter Book, Volume 2, Transcription. [Digital]
Francis H. Smith European Travel Letter Book, Volume 2, Transcription. [Digital]
Miscellaneous Francis H. Smith and Smith family personal records. Includes 2 volumes of personal letters written while on his trip to Europe in 1858, along with a scrapbook containing engravings of places visited; misc. personal correspondence, including one letter from Scott Shipp thanking Smith for his condolences upon the death of Shipp's wife.

Dates

  • 1858

Creator

Extent

2 Volumes (letter books & related)

Biographical / Historical

In 1858, after nearly twenty years as Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute, Francis H. Smith needed some time off. Consequently, he was granted a leave of absence by the VMI Board of Visitors to travel to Europe to visit military, scientific, and agricultural institutions and to write a report on his findings upon his return.

Smith and several young alumni departed on the 9th of June and returned at the end of December 1858 having visited Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy. Each night, he wrote a letter home to his wife Sara describing what he had seen and experienced that day. These letters, possibly Smith's only personal correspondence that has survived, were transcribed into three small letter books on his return.

Over the years, the three volumes passed down through the Smith family, but sadly one was lost. Col. Edwin Dooley, a historian who has done extensive research on Smith, transcribed and annotated the two surviving letter books covering Smith’s travels through the United Kingdom and France.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The original letter books were donated to the VMI Archives in 2013 through the estate of Alexander Morrison, VMI Class of 1939, a descendant of Gen. Smith.

General

The original letter books were transcribed and annotated by Edwin L. Dooley, Jr.

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

Contact:
VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450
540-464-7516