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Dear Friend Amelia – Lives & Letters in the Civil War

Friday, February 4, 2011 to Friday, July 1, 2011

On display from February until July 2011, The History Center is pleased to present, Dear Friend Amelia – Lives and Letters in the Civil War, an exhibit which pays homage to the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, recognizing the lives and sacrifices of local people who served in the war. It will also look at the lives of the families and loved ones left behind. The centerpiece of the exhibit will be letters of soldiers, particularly the letters of Major Doctor Tarbell of Ithaca, and Private John Tidd of Caroline. 

The American Civil War was experienced by Tompkins County residents as a distant horror. While many local men and women, both black and white, traveled long distances to serve as Union soldiers and nurses, most county residents experienced the war through their compatriots’ letters, local newspaper reports, and the budding medium of photography.

The History Center commemorates the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War through an exhibition of these records, as well as the artifacts of both soldiers’ and civilians’ daily lives. In particular, we highlight the medium of the soldier’s letter home through the collections of Private John Tidd of Speedsville and Major Doctor Tarbell of Ithaca, which provide two compelling firsthand accounts of the war that tore the country apart with two divergent personal endings. Through the lens of these highly personal artifacts, a larger sketch of our local history is drawn and this cataclysmic national event is remembered.

supported by:
M&T Bank
Tompkins County Strategic Tourism Planning Board
Tompkins County Civil War Commemoration Commission
And with special thanks to Mary Jordan, the owner of the letters, who has generously lent them to The History Center for the duration of the exhibit.

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