Historic Documents

Manuscript Collection at Stratford Hall

The duPont Library’s collection contains over 1,100 documents and manuscripts related to the Lee family.  Stratford Hall’s manuscript collection is cataloged on the Founding Fathers Library Consortium
website. To research the manuscript collection on site, please contact the Director of Library Collections. Currently, the manuscript collection is being added to The Lee Family Digital Archive, an on-line repository of Lee documents and reference materials. The Lee Family Archive, formerly housed at Washington & Lee University, has been transferred to the duPont Library, where the archive editor will constantly be adding new information.

Selected documents and manuscripts from Stratford Hall’s collections are sometimes made accessible on-line. These documents are for personal and classroom use only. If you wish to use any of these documents, or excerpts from them, for publication purposes, please contact the Director of Research & Library Collections to request a Permission to Publish form.

Latest Acquisitions – Collection Highlights

The latest addition to our manuscript collection was an unusual find.  One of our newer board members, in redecorating the cabin assigned to her, found a large number of old framed prints hanging on the walls.  Some of their frames were falling apart and moisture damage was evident on a few of them; it was clear that the pieces had been hanging in the cabin for decades.  Desiring to hang her husband’s artwork, the board member asked the Director of Library Collections if any of the old framed items would be suitable for the library’s collection.  Long story short, we found a treasure trove on the cabin walls!

One framed item was what had been thought to be a photocopy of a Robert E. Lee letter.  On closer inspection, it was found to be an authentic letter from Lee to Professor H. V. Lejer of New Orleans, dated October 9, 1869.  The letter documents Lee’s need for reading glasses and where he got his spectacles.  It read:

Lexington Va: 9 Oct 1869

My dear Sir

The glasses which you were so kind as to give me, & which have been of so much comfort to me, have unfortunately got broken, I fear by my hard usage.  As I am unwilling to trust them to any hands but yours, & as you desired me to send them to you in the event of their becoming unserviceable, I forward them by the Express in the hope that you may easily repair them for me.

Thanking you for your former kindness, & begging you to pardon the trouble I occasion you

I am very respectfully your obedient Servant

R E Lee
Profr H. V. Leger
St. Charles Hotel
New Orleans La:

The letter, stained from water damage and exposure to light and mounted to a piece of heavy stock, is very readable.  The blue-lined paper has Lee’s embossed crest in the upper left corner.  The letter is a prime candidate for conservation.


Transcribing Documents

Thomas Lee letter

ALS Thomas Lee letter

Robert E. Lee letter

ALS Robert E. Lee letter

Robert E. Lee letter

ALS Robert E. Lee letter

Transcribing some of the Lee family letters has been a challenge. Some handwriting, such as that of Robert E. Lee, is very legible…except when he tries to make an overlong letter fit his stationery and begins writing across his previous script. However, other Lees, such as Stratford’s builder Thomas Lee, wrote letters that are not as easy to transcribe.