Digital Exhibition Devoted to Henry Mosler's Civil War Diary
The Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art recently launched “Henry Mosler’s Civil War Diary,” a digital exhibition at http://civilwardiary.aaa.si.edu in recognition of the sesquicentennial of Mosler’s diary and the Civil War.
Henry Mosler (1841-1920) was a painter and illustrator who worked primarily in Ohio, Kentucky, New York City, and Europe. Mosler began his career during the Civil War. Henry Mosler’s diary dates from October 1862 when he served as an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly and an aide-de-camp to General R. W. Johnson as part of the Ninth Indiana Volunteer Regiment. Mosler wrote about his movements with the Union troops and mentions encampments, encounters, and, occasionally, his work for Harper’s Weekly. He recorded these impressions in a slim pocket diary. Though not lengthy at only thirty-seven pages, the diary provides a first-hand account of the suffering and weariness of war.
The website includes several features:
• a digital reproduction and transcript of the diary. The transcription helps to make his 19th century handwriting legible. Until now, his tiny cursive notes in faded and smudged pencil had been difficult for researchers to decipher.
• an interactive map. The map allows visitors to trace Mosler’s movement around the state of Kentucky during October 1862, a period in which Mosler and the men marched more than 275 miles.
• a timeline. This tool enables visitors to follow Mosler’s activities through his busy period as a war correspondent and artist.
• an image gallery. The gallery includes more two dozen illustrations in Harper’s Weekly between June 1861 and November 1862. The images depict the landscape of war: battlefields, infrastructure, and street-scapes principally in Kentucky, but also in Ohio, Tennessee, and Alabama.
• and a series of brief articles about aspects of the diary. At present, these include a word cloud analysis of the text and further information about illustrations. Articles will be added periodically.
Mosler began his career in Cincinnati, Ohio, lived in Germany and Paris for at least two decades, and finally settled in New York. He enjoyed financial and critical success during his lifetime. The larger collection of Mosler’s papers documents his life and career through biographical material, personal and professional letters from members of the military, museums, family, friends and colleagues, writings, personal business records, printed material, artwork and sketchbooks, and photographs. This exhibition focuses on one primary source: the diary.
The digitization of the Henry Mosler papers was made possible through a generous donation from the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation. Joseph F. McCrindle (1923-2008) was an art collector, literary agent, publisher, and philanthropist. He was the great-grandson of Henry Mosler.
The Archives of American Art is the world’s preeminent resource dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and primary records of the visual arts in America. With major financial support from the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Archives has maintained the Terra Foundation Center for Digital Collections, a virtual repository of a substantial cross-section of the Archives' most significant collections.
For more information, especially if you would like to use the Mosler digital exhibition or other digital collections in your classroom teaching or research, please do not hesitate to contact me. –Kelly Quinn
Terra Foundation Project Manager for Online Scholarly and Educational Initiatives
Archives of American Art
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