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Elisabeth Barnett Fisher papers (1858-1916, bulk 1858-1864)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Philip Heslip, October 2009
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Elisabeth Barnett Fisher papers
Creator: Fisher, Elisabeth Barnett, b. 1839
Inclusive dates: 1858-1916
Bulk dates: 1858-1864
Extent: 0.25 linear feet
The Elisabeth Barnett Fisher Papers consist of the family letters of Elisabeth Fisher along with financial records, photographs, ephemeral items, and eight miscellaneous items. The most common themes of the letters are family news and finances, fashion, religion, courtship, marriages, deaths, and opinions about the Civil War.
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

1984. M-2156.

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

Elisabeth Barnett Fisher Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


This collection is organized into four series:
  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Financial Papers
  • Series III: Photographs, Documents, and Ephemera
  • Series IV: Miscellaneous

The Correspondence series is ordered chronologically with undated items filed at the end.


Elisabeth Barnett Fisher was born on March 18, 1839, near Navarre, Ohio. Her father, Jacob Barnett, was a farmer from Pennsylvania and her mother, Elisabeth Griffith, was from Virginia. Elisabeth had 11 siblings. Her father and four of her brothers joined the Union Army in Ohio. All fought as privates: Gabriel G. (76th Infantry Regiment); David D. (107th Infantry Regiment); Elijah C. (107th Infantry Regiment); and Jesse M. (197 Ohio Infantry). Jesse and Elijah were killed during their service in the war.

Sometime before 1858, Elisabeth moved to Bremen, Indiana, where she may have worked as a schoolteacher. In late 1861, she married Valentine Fisher (b. 1840), a local horse equipment manufacturer. In 1867, they had a son named Erwin G Fisher, who was the successor to his father’s harness business, and two daughters, Ada (b. 1872) and Eva (b. 1879). Elisabeth Barnett Fisher lived until at least 1916, the last year mentioned in the financial records.

Valentine’s father, Peter Fisher, came from Germany and became a farmer in Bremen, Indiana, which had a large German-speaking population. His mother, Eva Folty Fisher, was born in Ohio.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Elisabeth Barnett Fisher Papers consist of 63 letters to Elisabeth Fisher, 25 financial records, two photographs, 13 ephemeral items, and eight miscellaneous items.

The primary correspondents of the letters in the Correspondence Series are: Gabriel G. Barnett (brother), Hester Ann Barr (sister), Mary A. Hochstetler (sister), Caroline Barnett (sister), Cal M. Barnett (sister), Sarah Barnett (sister-in-law), David D. Barnett (brother), Susannah Fair (sister), E.H. Barnett (sister-in-law), Sarah Ann Senff (cousin), and Jacob Barnett (father). The majority of the 63 letters in the collection were written during the Civil War by family members (48) and friends (15). With the exception of 19 letters from her brother, Gabriel G. Barnett, and 7 letters from her sister, Hester Ann Barr, no other correspondent wrote more than 5 letters; consequently, the subject matter in the collection is very diverse. However, the most common themes throughout the correspondence are family news and finances, fashion, religion, courtship, marriages, deaths, and attitudes and opinions about the Civil War. The solders letters are typically brief and primarily consist of descriptions of camp life. Several of the letters from home include patriotic exhortations; one describes a patriotic rally and another reveals the anti-Lincoln sentiments of an 1860 Democrat. The letters also demonstrated the economic hardships the family suffered as a result of the war.

The Financial Papers Series includes tax bills, receipts, and records of Elisabeth's bills paid for by her son, Erwin G. Barnett, successor to his father’s harness business.

The Photographs, Documents, and Ephemera series contains: 3 'flirtation' cards; a funeral card for the death of a 13 year-old girl; a calling card; 2 cartes-de-visite of a young girl and young man; a Reichsbanknote; several newspaper clippings; Valentine Fisher's confirmation certificate; and George W. Rulow's post of the Grand Army of the Republic transfer card.

The Miscellaneous Series holds two notes on the Barnett/Fisher genealogy.

Visual material includes:
  • Rough pen illustration of two swans, January 15, 1860.
  • Pen illustration of a feather, May 28, 1860.
  • Rough pen illustration (of a chicken or a saddle), December 31, 1860.
  • Pen sketch of a plant, June 6, 1861.
  • Pen illustration of a bearded man with hat, January 13, 1864.
  • Pen illustration of feathers, undated.
  • Two miscellaneous cards have printed illustrations of flowers on them.
  • Printed image of an ark, plus additional religious imagery on confirmation document of Valentine Fisher.

The collection also includes several patriotic letterheads and envelopes.

Subject Terms

  • Douglas, Stephen A. (Stephen Arnold), 1813-1861.
  • Families--Economic aspects.
  • Families--Health and hygiene.
  • Families--Religious life.
  • Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863.
  • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
  • Pea Ridge, Battle of, Ark., 1862.
  • Stones River, Battle of, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 1862-1863.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Genre Terms:
  • Cartes de visite (card photographs)
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Ephemera.
  • Letters (correspondence)

Contents List

Container / Location Title
Box   1 Folder   1
 December 12, 1858-September 23, 1860
Box   1 Folder   2
 October 13, 1860-May 6, 1861
Box   1 Folder   3
 May 25-November 28, 1861
Box   1 Folder   4
 November 27, 1861-March 30, 1862
Box   1 Folder   5
 July 29-December 16, 1862
Box   1 Folder   6
 January 28-December 1, 1863
Box   1 Folder   7
 December 13, 1863-August 11, 1864
8  Undated
Financial Papers [series]
Box   1 Folder   8
 March 1, 1906-November 14, 1916
2  Undated Items
Photographs, Documents, and Ephemera [series]
Box   1 Folder   9
17 Items
Miscellaneous [series]
Box   1 Folder   10
2 Genealogical Items
7 Envelopes