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IMLS & The Battle of Hampton Roads

Hello readers,

It has been a busy summer and one that has been especially interesting for Library staff. We are all deeply involved in a project that has been funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to catalog archival resources from our collections that involve the Battle of Hampton Roads (BOHR).
So what does this project mean for the Library staff and our dedicated volunteers and interns? It has become an opportunity to spend much more time researching and describing singular items in BOHR collections. Given this opportunity, I thought I’d share something that I found interesting in a four page letter from the collection of Jacob Nicklis’ papers.
On December 28, 1862, Jacob Nicklis wrote to his father from the USS Monitor. In the letter, he informs him that they are anchored near Fortress Monroe awaiting the Montauk and the Connecticut, so he is taking the time to write about where he has been since the last letter, and to say where he will be going in the coming days. Jacob then shifts gears to provide his father with a detailed description of his Christmas while on board the Monitor.
This all seems like an average letter that you would send home to loved ones, right? Well, towards the end of his letter on pages three to four, Jacob tells his father not to write back until he hears from him again. Jacob then ends the letter with what I considered a very chilling comment:
“They say we will have a pretty rough time a going around Hatteras but I hope it will not be the case.”

As many of you know, the Monitor sank off the coast of Cape Hatteras, December 31, 1862, and Jacob Nicklis perished with 15 of his crew members.

It’s these separate and personal accounts of the time surrounding the Battle of Hampton Roads that make reading and making sense of the resources so interesting. The end of the project is about a year away and the results are something that I hope you’ll all look forward to. You can expect to be able to discover individual items from our BOHR collections through our online catalog, and you can also look forward to the ability to view images of the items we have cataloged thanks to the efforts of the Museum’s Photo/Digitizing Specialist.
In the mean time, don’t forget that you’re always welcome to come by the Library to view our one-of-a-kind resources in person!
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