The John A. McAllister Collection: Civil War Envelopes

“Union Alchemist.” (Salem, Mass: G. M. Whipple & A. A. Smith, ca. 1862). Color wood engraving printed on Civil War envelope.

The McAllister Collection contains about 7,000 Civil War envelopes collected by John A. McAllister. Issued by stationers, printers, and publishers, the envelopes contain patriotic designs and slogans to promote support for the war. Predominately published in the Northern states between 1861 and 1862, a small number of envelopes with anti-Union designs printed in the Confederate states circulated as well. The designs depict portraits of historic and prominent military figures, military scenes, state seals, cartoons, Liberty, American eagles, flags, and other military and patriotic emblems. The Civil War Envelope Collection provides valuable information about the politics and culture of a society at war and about mid-19th century consu mer and visual culture. The collection is catalogued as a collection-level record on the library’s on-line catalog, Koha, and a sampling of images of the envelopes is included in the library’s Islandora digital asset repository.

“Woman holding Union flag with shield and eagle,” ca. 1862. Color lithograph on Civil War envelope.

Picket Post – Farmhouse in Virginia. (New York: Charles Magnus, 12 Frankfurt St., ca. 1862). Lithograph printed on Civil War envelope.