The Edmund Whitman papers contain 23 personal account books/diaries, 3 military account and letter books, a document, and 38 newspaper clippings. The materials span 1830-1881.
The Personal Account Books/Diaries series contains 23 volumes covering 1830-1876. They primarily contain information on Whitman's financial transactions, but also record major life events and feature occasional brief diary entries. While most of the volumes contain information on only one year, Volume I covers 1830-1855 in many brief entries, and several pages in the back of the volume note events such as his wedding to Nancy Russell, which took place "in a Hurricane at K[ingston]" (September 30, 1839), the deaths of his parents and wife, and the dates and places of his children's births and school attendance. The volumes for the years 1851 and 1853 contain only financial entries, which document the economic aspects of running the Hopkins Classical School in Cambridge. In addition to accounts, the 1855 volume contains a page of genealogical information, compiled by Whitman, which sheds light on several generations of the Whitman and Russell lines. Other volumes contain lists of publications and books that Whitman wanted to purchase (1858), and beginning in 1862, scattered military transactions mixed in with personal accounts. Tucked into the pocket of the 1865 volume is a table of the burial locations of approximately 20 Union soldiers who died in Missouri. In late July 1866, Whitman wrote a lengthy entry about cemeteries in Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The later books in the series, 1872-1876, document Whitman's travel, interest from investments, and general transactions. The collection also contains two ongoing accounts, placed at the end: one spans 1856-1880, and records transactions related to the National Kansas Committee, and later, the schooling of Whitman's children; and another volume primarily records tuition transactions from the 1840s to the 1870s.
The Military Account Books and Letterbook series contains three items. The first account book covers May 1, 1863-December 1864 and lists payments made by Whitman, mainly to soldiers, on behalf of the United States government. The second volume contains similar records for the period of January 1, 1867-August 20, 1868, when the government undertook efforts to identify the graves of Union soldiers and rebury many of them in national cemeteries. Unlike the previous volume, this book provides information on the reason for each payment, whether "postage," "service," "hired men," "towing," or "purchase." The letterbook covers April 11, 1865-April 25, 1868, and records and summarizes the content of incoming letters to Whitman. The letters mainly contain requests for such items as fuel, clothing, and livestock, or for payments by the government for requisitioned items.
The Miscellaneous series contains a promotion document for Whitman, signed by Ulysses S. Grant (November 15, 1867), and 38 newspaper clippings from the 1850s to the 1870s, mainly pertaining to the Kansas controversy and its aftermath.