Ohio History Journal

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews



Manuscript Sources in the Library of Congress for Research on the American

Revolution. Compiled by John R. Sellers, Gerard W. Gawalt, Paul H. Smith,

and Patricia Molen van Ee. (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1975. iii

+ 372 p.; indexes. $8.70.)


The Library of Congress is many things to many people: a legislative library;

a leader in the introduction of new library techniques; the world's largest

depository of written materials; and the custodian of internationally significant

collections in a number of fields. Over many decades, the Library has also

made a valuable contribution to American and world scholarship through the

compilation of a series of bibliographies, catalogues, guides, and other refer-

ence works. Some years ago, the Library established an American Revolution

Bicentennial Office that has sponsored several symposia on the Revolution and

conducted a survey of the Library's manuscript sources for description in this


Under 1617 entries, the guide lists all of the Library's collections of original

manuscripts, photostats, microfilms, and transcripts on American history from

1763 to 1789. Two-thirds of the entries cover "Domestic Collections," which

include papers of public men, government records, diaries, account books, and

orderly books. The other entries list "Foreign Reproductions," material on

American history during the period, which was copied for the Library of Con-

gress from foreign archives in England, France, Spain, and other countries.

Each entry lists the name of the collection, its size and dates, the location of

originals in cases where the Library of Congress holds reproductions, and

reference to other guides to the individual collections. Most entries also in-

clude a short biographical identification of the person or family whose papers

are listed, a note on principal correspondents in the collection, and a descrip-

tion of the collection, which may range from a single line to half a page.

Students of black history, architecture, religion, and other aspects of Ameri-

can life will find some materials pertinent to their work listed here. There are

papers of Paul Cuffee and Pierre L'Enfant, of the Pennsylvania Abolitionist

Society and the Society of the Cincinnati, of blacksmiths, clergymen, planters,

and country storekeepers. The overwhelming emphasis, however, is in the

fields of political, military, and diplomatic history, and on the papers of promi-

nent American white males. This fact is explainable more by the interests of

earlier scholarly generations than by the myopia of the guide's compilers. For

the study of these subjects, the original manuscripts in the Library of Congress

are indispensable, and its reproductions of material in other libraries in this

country and abroad makes a massive group of manuscripts conveniently avail-

able in one place. One is compelled to use these great collections whether one

is interested in the events that led to revolution, the military engagements, the

history of diplomacy and government during the Confederation, or the men

who wrote the Constitution of 1787. Here are the diaries and journals of re-

volutionary soldiers and British officers, the family papers of American

loyalists and the Proceedings of the Loyalist Claims Commissioners, official

records of a number of states and of most major European powers. The repro-