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Robert R. Newell Correspondence

 Collection — Container: MS 7112
Call Number: MS 7112

Scope and Contents

This collection of ninety-three letters, date between 1863 and 1865, documents the experiences of Robert R. Newell in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. The majority of the letters consist of correspondence from Newell to his mother, his father William Newell, his sisters Fan and Jenny, and his brothers Will and Kirk. There are two letters addressed to Robert Newell, one from his father, William Newell, and one from F.I. Child, one of his Harvard professors. Newell writes from Jacksonville, Florida and various places in South Carolina, including Charleston, Morris Island, Hilton Head, and Fort Green on Folly Island. Newell provides detailed descriptions of daily life in the camps, campaigns and expeditions, encounters with Southern soldiers, and mentions of senior officers, particularly a Colonel Hallowell and Captain Walton. Of particular interest are Newell’s discussions of the African-American troops in his regiment and the issues they faced related to lack of payment and the problems and discontent related to that. The collection also contains a copybook of nine letters written to friends between 10 January  and 6 June 1864 and a photograph of a daguerreotype of Robert Newell.


  • 1863-1865


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. In most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. It is the sole responsibility of the user to make their own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Captain Robert R. Newell was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on December 22, 1843. He was a student at Harvard when he was commission into the Union Army on December 12, 1863. He joined the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, a regiment of African-American soldiers, in January 1864 where he served until the end of the war in 1865. After the war he returned to Harvard to complete his degree. He also graduated from Harvard Law School and went on to practice law in Boston. Newell died in Cambridge in 1883.


95.00 Items

Language of Materials



Arranged chronologically.

Method of Acquisition

Purchased from Skinner in 2001.

Processing Information

Processed by Rachel Stanton, June 2013.

Processing Information

This electronic finding aid is transcribed from legacy data. In many cases, transcriptions were not verified against collection materials at the time of transcription. As a result, this finding aid could be incomplete and might only reflect a partial understanding of the material.

Statement on harmful description

Archival description reflects the biases of time periods and cultures in which it was created and may include direct quotations or descriptions that use inappropriate or harmful language. Creator provided descriptions may be maintained in order to preserve the context in which the collection was created and/or used. Legacy description and potentially offensive content may be made available online until a collection can be reprocessed because the access that they provide to primary source materials is uniquely valuable to the research community at large. Our efforts to repair outdated descriptions and to describe our collections more equitably are iterative and ongoing.

Robert R. Newell Correspondence
Rachel Stanton,  June 2013.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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About this library

Part of the Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections Repository

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