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Over the past 2 months, The Digital Collections Center launched two new online collections containing historical materials from the Furman University Special Collections and Archives. Now you can access these important primary source materials with just a simple click of a mouse.


Civil War Correspondence

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This collection contains over 100 letters written during the American Civil War. The contents include 16 items from Samuel McBride Pringle who was born December 7, 1839 and enrolled at Furman University in 1859. He left Furman in the spring of 1861 to join the Confederate Army. Pringle was wounded at the Battle of Antietam and never recovered. He died on September 24, 1862. The letters he wrote to his family during the Civil War have been digitized from the Samuel McBride Pringle Collection in the Furman Special Collections and Archives.

There are also 91 letters between Charles M. Furman and his sweetheart and later wife Frances Garden. Charles Manning Furman (1840-1934) was the son of James C. Furman, the University’s first president. Charles attended Furman from 1853-1859 and enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861. During his time in the Civil War, he frequently wrote to his future wife, Frances Emma Garden (1842-1883). Their lively and endearing correspondence has been digitized from the Charles Manning & Frances Garden Furman Civil War Correspondence in the Furman Special Collections and Archives.

Altogether, these letters offer a glimpse into the War, the home front, and the personal lives of the authors.


Richard Furman and James C. Furman Collection

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This collection contains 163 letters and 9 sermons from Richard Furman (1755-1825), a clergyman considered the most important Baptist leader before the Civil War. Furman was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C., and became the first president of the Triennial Convention, the first national body of Baptists in America. Under Furman’s urging, education was endorsed as a formal element of the denomination’s program, eventually resulting in the founding of Columbian College (modern-day George Washington University) in 1821. Furman was also elected the first president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention in 1821. Furman University, the South’s first Baptist college, was posthumously named in his honor. The principal correspondents included in this digital collection are Oliver Hart, Charles Screven, Edmund Botsford, and Joseph B. Cook.

The collection also contains 602 letters and 9 sermons from James Clement Furman (1809-1891). A son of Richard Furman, James C. Furman first joined the Furman faculty in 1845 and later became its first president in 1859, serving until 1879.  Furman was instrumental in the institution’s move to Greenville in 1851. A leading voice among secessionists, Furman was a signer of the Ordinance of Secession in 1860. The university closed during the Civil War but reopened due to the perseverance of its president who would not abandon it. The letters in this digital collection reflect many of Furman University’s early struggles and triumphs.