ANN ARBOR, MI, (April 11, 2017) – "Columns of enemy accompanied by artillery and wagons passing for hours today to our left. Also, two trains crowded with troops in same direction – be on the alert," wrote Robert E. Lee in a telegram dated November 29, 1864, to General James Longstreet, his principal subordinate.
Longstreet had just rejoined the campaign after being accidentally shot by one of his own men, and President Abraham Lincoln had just won his reelection by a landslide.
The sense of urgency in the telegram was more than a warning from Lee. It was a realization that the Civil War would soon end in a Southern defeat.
This document, along with other wartime telegrams, orders, battle reports from subordinates and correspondence (including personal letters to his wife) comprise the Robert E. Lee Papers, curated in a new addition to ProQuest History Vault: Confederate Military Manuscripts and Records of Union Generals and the Union Army.
By collaborating with the Virginia Historical Society, ProQuest unlocks rare documents from their print and microfilm formats, making them broadly accessible online. Researchers will find new insight into Lee's career and life as head of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Confederacy's principal field command, military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and as general-in-chief of all Confederate forces, as well as a husband and father.
The Civil War continues to inspire research as a trigger of pivotal social, cultural and political change in the United States. The materials in this new History Vault module – made available online for the first time – address researchers' thirst for what they've never seen.
"The Virginia Historical Society is greatly pleased to see this release of digital versions of collections long held by this institution and appreciated by onsite researchers," said Lee Shepard, Vice President for Collections, Virginia Historical Society. "Making these rich and still underused resources available broadly to a diverse audience promises to fuel fresh analyses of a period of American history that continues to fascinate and instruct."
ProQuest has also collaborated with the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Virginia and Louisiana State University to include their collections in this History Vault module. Researchers will discover soldiers' letters and diaries from the war along the Mississippi River, eyewitness accounts of the combat at Shiloh, Port Hudson and Vicksburg, and papers from civilians who endured battles around their homes.
"These primary sources provide access to unique collections and enable exploration into fresh avenues of scholarship," said Susan Bokern, ProQuest Vice-President, Product Management. "We've curated a collection that offers a combination of the records and papers of those in high command as well as the documents that capture experiences of everyday enlisted men."
Launched in 2011, ProQuest History Vault enables better research and learning about the most important and widely studied topics in 18th through 20th-century American history. The program curates rare, previously inaccessible content that provides insights into the triggers of social, political and cultural changes, bringing it online for simplified access. Continually expanding, History Vault encompasses primary sources that enrich coursework in African-American studies, women's studies, history, political science, military and diplomatic history, immigration, workers and labor unions, American Indians, and other subjects. Institutions can build their collections over time to provide students and faculty with the means to achieve extraordinary research outcomes.
ProQuest connects people with vetted, reliable information. Key to serious research, the company's products are a gateway to the world's knowledge including dissertations, governmental and cultural archives, news, historical collections and ebooks. ProQuest technologies serve users across the critical points in research, helping them discover, access, share, create and manage information.
The company's cloud-based technologies offer flexible solutions for librarians, students and researchers through the ProQuest, Alexander Street, Bowker, Dialog, Ex Libris and SIPX businesses – and notable research tools such as the RefWorks citation and reference management platform, the Pivot research development tool and the Ebook Central, ebrary, EBL and MyiLibrary ebook platforms. The company is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with offices around the world.