Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
James Silver Papers, 1872

Finding aid created by
Mary Parsons and Meg Hixon, October 2011

Summary Information
Title: James Silver papers
Creator: Silver family
Inclusive dates: 1872
Extent: 12 items
Abstract:
The James Silver papers consist of 12 letters, each of which is several pages long, composed by Silver during his 1872 visit to New Orleans, Louisiana, recounting his journey from New York, where his family resided, to Louisiana, as well as his time spent in and around New Orleans. Silver included 39 ink sketches of people and scenery throughout his letters.
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: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1995. M-3158.2.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

James Silver Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically.


Biography

Little is known of James Silver; in 1872, when he was roughly 25 years of age, he traveled from New York, where his family resided, to New Orleans, where he remained for at least two months.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The James Silver papers consist of 12 letters, each of which is several pages long, composed by Silver during his 1872 visit to New Orleans, Louisiana, recounting his journey from New York, where his family resided, to Louisiana, as well as his time spent in and around New Orleans. Silver included 39 ink sketches of people and scenery throughout his letters. The rough voyage took him past Havana, Cuba, before he entered the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River Delta. In New Orleans, Silver wrote about the sights and sounds in detail, paying particular attention to the peculiarity of hearing French in the French Quarter, of taking a train ride to Lake Pontchartrain, and of seeing the Mardi Gras celebrations. The young traveler frequently mentioned African Americans, and included some ink sketches of them in his letters. Also of interest is Silver's discussion of the city's unique burial practices and the social implications of them (February 7). The 39 sketches, interspersed throughout his letters, show buildings, farms, the streets of New Orleans during Mari Gras, and beaches along the Gulf Coast, as well as portraits. Along with the natural and man-made scenery, Silver drew scenes involving local people of all races, including trips to the market, families, fellow passengers on his railroad journeys, and couples dining in restaurants. Additionally, he sketched different events he witnessed during his travels, such as a man with a gun approaching him, a production of Hamlet that included a severed head, a drunkard being arrested by an African American police officer, a bowler hitting him with a ball, and a cluster of "hackmen" arguing about the price of a ride.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • African Americans--Louisiana.
    • Louisiana--Description and travel.
    • Mardi Gras.
    • New Orleans (La.)--Description and travel.
    • New Orleans (La.)--Social life and customs.
    • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)--Louisiana.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • African Americans--Louisiana.
    • Louisiana--Description and travel.
    • Mardi Gras.
    Contributors:
    • Silver, James Millhousen.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Sketches.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   41, Small Collections  
    James Silver papers [series]
    Folders   44-55  
     January 21, 1872-March 1872
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    This collection arrived at the Clements Library with the Thomas Silver scrapbook.