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Palmer Brothers Civil War Letters


Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

William W. Palmer (1804-1882), son of John and Beulah Palmer, and Hannah T. Trimble (1807-1884), daughter of William and Mary Trimble, were married under the care of Concord Monthly Meeting (Hicksite) in Delaware County, Pa. William Palmer was a descendent of John and Martha (Southery) Palmer, Quakers who had settled in the area in the 1680s. William and Beulah Palmer owned a farm in Concord Township, Pa. Their sons, birthright Quakers, served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

The eldest, John (1835-1894) served in Virginia in 1862-1863 and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1864-1865 for employment. He was a member of Concord Monthly Meeting at his death.

William T. (1837-1921) also served in Maryland and Virginia.

A third son, Edward Livingston Palmer (1841-1933) served 1864-1865, mostly in Tennessee. He was mustered out in June 1865.

A fourth son, Merritt T. Palmer (1845-1928) who was in school during the War is represented in this collection of letters as a recipient.

Edward L. Palmer became a medical doctor and transferred to Fallowfield Monthly Meeting. He married Ellen Marshall in 1872, and they had four children, including Mary Ida Palmer. She married Charles Miller Stabler in 1895 and attended Swarthmore College for one year. Their four children, Eleanor, Cornelia, Sarah, and Charles Norman Stabler graduated from Swarthmore College. The Palmer family was a long-time Delaware County family, connected to many other Quaker lines including Trimble, Darlington, and Stabler.

This collection contains fifty letters written to family members by Quaker brothers, John, William T., and Edward L. Palmer of Concord Monthly Meeting during their service in the Union army. Letters from John Palmer also describe his post-military service employment in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1864. Edward's letters describe not only army life, but the immediate post-war period in Tennessee, and a related latter from E.C. Mercer, a friend, is also included with Edward's letters.

The collection is divided into three series:

  1. Correspondence from John Palmer
  2. Correspondence from William T. Palmer
  3. Correspondence from Edward L. Palmer

Accession information

Donor: James B. Stabler, 1995; Accession number: 95-039

The collection was given by James B. Stabler, the son of Sarah Marshall Stabler, Swarthmore College Class of 1922, and a descendent of the Palmer family.

Collection was arranged and stored in a binder by the donor, described as archival sleeves. Removed from binder, original order and sleeves retained, foldered and boxed.

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Friends Historical Library believes all of the items in this collection to be in the Public Domain in the United States, and is not aware of any restrictions on their use. However, the user is responsible for making a final determination of copyright status before reproducing. See

Collection Inventory

Correspondence, 1862-1863.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

12 letters to his family, sent mostly from Virginia, near Harper's Ferry, during nine month tour of duty

Correspondence, 1864-1865.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

7 letters to his family, sent from Cincinnati where he moved to find employment

Correspondence, 9-11/1862.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

3 letters to his family, describing service in Harrisburg, Maryland, and Virginia; also includes a letter from E. G. Mercer, friend of Edward Palmer, dated 3/16/1862 from Winchester, VA.

Correspondence, 1864-1865.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

17 letters to his family 1864-1865, mostly from Tennessee

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