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Henry A. Converse Letter

Identifier: Ms-1989-108

Scope and Content

This collection consists of a single letter written by Henry A. Converse, a Philadelphia attorney, on December 12-14, 1863. The letter is addressed to Converse's aunt, Mary B. Haralson of Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Converse writes of the experiences of Rev. A. H. Sloat, recently arriving from Virginia "under conduct of the Secretary of War (Confederate)" and reporting on the depreciation of Confederate currency. Converse then describes at length his personal activities: visiting with friends, playing checkers and chess with fellow boarders. He shares his views on the conscription act, apparently concerned that the examption for myopia will be rescinded, and relates the recent experiences of Frank Wolfe in reaching his post as clerk and secretary for Quartermaster General [Montgomery C.] Meigs in Chattanooga. Converse then writes at length regarding his struggle in establishing his law practice: "In the legal profession, times were never perhaps darker than they are now," Converse writes. "I have had my office open for a month. I have yet to take in the first fee." He hopes for an improvement in the law profession after the end of the war, as happened following the war of 1812. The writer then describes his little office and asks his aunt for advice in furthering his career and improving his income. The letter is accompanied by a stamped envelope and a typed transcript.


  • 1863


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

Henry Augustus Converse, son of Amasa and Flavia Booth Converse, was born on May 8, 1839. The 1860 federal census describes Converse as a 21-year-old, Pennsylvania-born teacher, living in the Philadelphia home of his parents. He is likely the Henry "Corvise" who appears in the 1870 federal census as a resident of Louisville, Kentucky, living next to Amasa and Maria "Corvise" with presumed wife Eliza. Records show that Converse married Elizabeth Margaret Bear (1842-1919) in Rockingham County, Virginia on October 30, 1873. Data in the 1880 federal census suggests that the Converses were living in Kentucky as early as 1875 and as late as 1879. The 1880 federal census lists the Converse family as residents of Rockingham County, Virginia, with Henry Converse working as a lawyer. Henry A. Converse died on December 5, 1880, and was buried in Cooks Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Rockingham County.


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)


Letter from Henry A. Converse, a lawyer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the American Civil War, written December 12-14, 1863, to his aunt, Mary B. Haralson of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, regarding the depreciating value of Confederate currency, the conscription act, and the prospects for Converse's law practice.

Source of Acquisition

The Henry A. Converse Letter was purchased by Special Collections and University Archives in 1989.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Henry A. Converse Letter by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing and description of the Henry A. Converse Letter commenced and was completed in March 2022.

Henry A. Converse Letter, 1863
John M. Jackson
2022 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-09-04: Finding aid notes updated to new department standards. juliags
  • 2021-06-21: LM Rozema added missing notes for an unprocessed collection (abstract, acquisition, processing info, bio), added FA title, added FA date from EAD, and added component with instances previously attached to collection level.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US