Monday, January 4, 2010

Ivy League Confederates

In the latter part of last year, University of Tennessee Press published a pair of biographical reference books for Confederates attending the two most prominent Ivy League schools -- Yale's Confederates: A Biographical Dictionary by Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes and Crimson Confederates: Harvard Men Who Fought for the South by Helen Trimpi. I haven't seen the Harvard volume yet, but I do have a copy of Hughes's book, which is a deeply researched and very useful biographical register of Yale students and graduates that later went on to serve in the Confederate army and/or government.

Each entry in Yale's Confederates begins with the name and graduation date(s) or years attended, followed by a few lines listing birth and death dates and place, as well as parental and spouse names. The life sketches are in narrative form, ranging in size from a small paragraph to around five hundred words of more. If information is available, Hughes tells of the individual’s Yale experience. In terms of focus, the biographies are largely professional, highlighting each subject’s military and occupational contributions to public service more than incidents from his personal life. Source notes are placed within the text inside brackets. A downside is the paucity of illustrations, with only a few dozen photographs or drawings included (out of 500+ individuals). That consideration aside, it's a great reference volume for serious researchers and interested Yale graduates to own.


  1. Drew - Another great resource is "Yale in the Civil War" (1930s) which also discusses the Confederate contributions of graduates...I recently secured a copy through interlibrary loan for other research I'm doing and the "Roll of Honor" and "Roll of Service" is extensive and decribes CSA soldiers...there are more than folks might imagine. Keep up the great work. Jim Schmidt

  2. Yes, Hughes talks about Eliot's book quite a bit and how it inspired his own work.

  3. Helen Trimpi (Harvard book) is an old and dear friend of mine, and I was one of the pre-publication reviewers for this manuscript (and am proud to say Helen and I talked about the manuscript for many years during its development). It is long overdue, and will be a great help to many researchers. Indeed, it is Ms. Trimpi's magnum opus.



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