Rawson Smith Family Papers

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Smith family, (Rawson Smith, 1814-1895)
Rawson Smith family papers
Date [inclusive]
0.1 Cubic feet , 4 folders

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: "Item title, Collection title, Collection Identifier, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan."

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Biographical Note

Rawson Smith and his wife, Abigail, were residents of Monroe County, New York. Their papers include correspondence from various family members including their son, Alfred, who served in the 78th New York Infantry in the Civil War and spent much of his time in the Army hospitals for treatment of various ailments. After the war, Rawson and several of his sons, including Alfred, went to Michigan where other relatives had migrated. Rawson returned to New York, but his sons remained in Michigan, settling in Clinton and Muskegon Counties.

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Scope and Contents note

The Smith family papers consist mostly of Alfred Smith's letters to his parents while he was in the Army, and correspondence exchanged by family members in Michigan and New York in the years following the war. The collection also includes various documents including insurance policies, deeds, mortgages, and a lottery advertisement (1868).

Subjects of particular interest from Alfred's correspondence include conditions in the Union hospital at Albany, New York (July 12, 1862); Smith's transfer from the Army of the Potomac in Virginia to the Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee (October 8, 1863); the Battle of Marietta, Georgia (July 13, 1864); and a scheme by "copperheads" to set up a Northwestern Confederacy (August 4, 1864). Alfred Smith also set forth his opinion on the necessity of abolishing slavery and disagreed with General McClellan's plan to allow the South back into the Union on the same footing as before the war (October 24, 1864). After the war, Alfred spent some time in Lansing, Michigan. His letters include a description of the new capitol building plans (March 10, 1872), and an account of his visit to the state legislature when Zachariah Chandler was elected to succeed U.S. Senator Isaac P. Christiancy (February 15, 1879).

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections

Conrad Hall
888 Wilson Road, Room 101
East Lansing , MI, 48824

Revision Description

  February 2000

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Custodial History

Gift of Mrs. A.C. Fast, 1960-07-08 . Transferred by Michigan State University Museum.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 78th (1862-1864).


  • Insurance policies
  • Letters (correspondence)

Geographic Name(s)

  • Lansing (Mich.)
  • Michigan -- Politics and government
  • New York (State) -- Politics and government
  • United States -- Economic conditions -- 19th century
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Medical care

Personal Name(s)

  • Fast, A.C., Mrs.
  • Smith, Abigail
  • Smith, Alfred A., 1842-
  • Smith, Rawson


  • Agriculture -- Michigan
  • Land titles -- Michigan

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Collection Inventory


Correspondence 1861-1864 


Correspondence 1865-1876 


Correspondence 1877-1891 


Miscellaneous Documents 1850-1892