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I knew that Uriah Parmelee had died long ago, but reading the report of his death still made me slump back in my chair. For two days in the spring of 1975 I had been sitting in the reference room at the Duke University Manuscripts Department, reading his Civil War letters. From Parmelee’s enthusiasm as an 1861 Union volunteer, to his disgust with Lincoln’s slowness to embrace emancipation as a war measure, I had followed his military career and political awakening. I admired his commitment to ending slavery and had begun to think of him as a kindred soul. When he wrote to his mother two weeks before Appomattox, he assured her that he was “in perfect health.” But the next letter in the file, in a different handwriting, described Parmelee’s death at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865. With this unexpected news I felt as if I had lost a friend.

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Archival Outlook


May/Jun 2005

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Published by the Society of American Archivists


Society of American Archivists “President’s Message” column

Archival Outlook (ISSN 1520-3379) is published six times a year and distributed as a membership benefit by the Society of American Archivists. Contents of the newsletter may be reproduced in whole or in part provided that credit is given.