Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
William Harrison Barber Papers, 1861-1883

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, August 2009

Summary Information
Title: William Harrison Barber papers
Creator: Stackhouse, Howard G.
Inclusive dates: 1861-1883
Extent: 34 items
William Harrison Barber was a private in the 47th Pennsylvania Regiment of Volunteers (1862-1865), who wrote letters during and after the Civil War documenting his military and personal life and his business activities. Of particular interest is a letter describing a railroad trip between Allentown and Baltimore, and letters to his sons explaining his views on fatherhood and business.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1980. M-1898.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

William Harrison Barber Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The William Harrison Barber papers have been organized into three series:

  • Correspondence
  • Documents
  • Miscellaneous

All series are organized chronologically.


William Harrison Barber was born on July 29, 1843, in Whitehall Pennsylvania, to Thomas Barber and his wife (name unknown). He had three siblings, Joseph, Matilda, and Hannah. He married (wife's name unknown) and they had four children: Thomas W., George, Robert, and Ann.

Barber was a private in Company K of the 47th Pennsylvania Regiment of Volunteers between July 26, 1862, and June 1, 1865.

Barber's son, Thomas W. Barber, married Mary R. Gibson and together had a son Howard G. Barber. After Thomas' death at an early age, Mary married William R. Stackhouse. William adopted Howard and raised him under the Stackhouse name. It was Howard G. [Barber] Stackhouse who saved the papers of his grandfather that make up this collection.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The William Harrison Barber papers is a small collection of correspondence and documents from during and after the Civil War. The Civil War material includes personal letters to his mother; a 15-page letter to a friend that describes a railroad trip from Allentown, Pennsylvania, to Baltimore; Barber's discharge letter, which has a drop of blood on it from a fist fight with another solder; and a letter of dishonorable discharge for three men (Barber is not one of them) for cowardice in battle. Of special interest is a letter to William from his brother Joseph, December 10, 1861, which includes a full-page pencil sketch of the layout of Fort Ethan Allen in Arlington, Virginia.

The post-war papers document Barber's personal life and business activities, primarily through letters to his family. Letters to his sons, including a farewell letter written on his deathbed, contain explanations of his ideals of fatherhood and the values of business in life.

The Documents series consists of an essay entitled The Ideal Manager, a speech to his employees called Words to Working Men, and documents granting Barber power of attorney from sisters Matilda and Hannah.

Miscellaneous items include:

  • Sketch of Camp Sedwick, signed by Tom Barber, [1870s]
  • Page 1 of an unfinished autobiography started by Barber
  • Prayers (3 items)
  • Inheritance law extracts (3 items)
  • Poem: "Charity"
  • List of flowers and their meanings

Subject Terms

    • Conduct of life--United States--History.
    • Pennsylvania Railroad--1860-1890.
    • Railroad travel--United States--History--19th century.
    • Shoe shiners.
    • Soldiers--United States--1860-1870.
    • Soldiers--United States--Conduct of life.
    • United States. Army--Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 47th (1861-1866)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Correspondence.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Military life--Union.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Fort Ethan Allen (Va.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Maps.
    • Barber, William Harrison, 1843-1883.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Manuscript maps.
    • Sketches.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   21, Schoff Civil War Collection Folders   30-38
    Documents [series]
    Box   21, Schoff Civil War Collection Folders   39-40
    Miscellaneous [series]
    Box   21, Schoff Civil War Collection Folder   41
    Miscellaneous items