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Collection Louis Malesherbes Goldsborough Papers

About this Collection

The papers of naval officer Louis Malesherbes Goldsborough (1805-1877) consist of 8,000 items (11,114 images) scanned from original materials. Spanning the years 1797 to 1874, the collection contains correspondence, military records, financial papers, printed material, illustrations, and other papers concerning Goldsborough’s long career in the United States Navy.

The collection documents the capture of the castle of San Juan de Ulúa, Mexico, during the Mexican War, and Goldsborough’s tenure as superintendent of the United States Naval Academy (1853-1857). Material dating from the Civil War relates to Goldsborough’s participation in the blockade of Charleston Harbor, S.C.; Ambrose Everett Burnside’s Expedition to North Carolina, and the capture of Roanoke Island, N.C.; naval operations on the James River in Virginia; the scuttling of the USS Merrimack (frigate); Goldsborough’s command of the USS Minnesota (frigate) at Hampton Roads, Virginia, while awaiting attack by the CSS Virginia (ironclad rebuilt from the USS Merrimack); visits to the front lines by Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet; and the capture of suspected Lincoln assassination conspirator John H. Surratt in 1866.

The collection also contains extensive family correspondence, especially among the extended Wirt family, which Goldsborough joined through his 1831 marriage to Attorney General William Wirt’s daughter, Elizabeth Wirt Goldsborough.

Prominent correspondents include Jeremiah S. Black, J. L. Cabell, Salmon P. Chase, John J. Crittenden, Samuel Francis Du Pont, Edward Everett, Gustavus Vasa Fox, John Lothrop Motley, Joseph Smith, Josiah Tatnall, A. P. Upshur, Gideon Welles, and Charles Wilkes.

A finding aid (PDF and HTML) to the Louis Malesherbes Goldsborough Papers is available online with links to the digital content on this site.

Description of Series

This collection is arranged in five series:

Series 1: Correspondence and Other Papers, 1797-1874, undated (Containers 1-24)
Contains both family and general correspondence, as well as other material. The materials are arranged chronologically.

Series 2: Letterbooks, 1853-1867 (Container 24)
Consists of bound letterbooks, which are arranged chronologically. Two letterbooks (1853-1855; 1855-1857) from Goldsborough’s time as superintendent of the United States Naval Academy contain copies of his outgoing correspondence. The third letterbook (1866-1867) is identified as “Letters to the Bureau of the Navy Department.”

Series 3: Military Papers, 1852-1870 (Container 25)
Comprised of general orders, circulars, courts martial, and other material. The series is arranged by bound and unbound material, and chronologically therein.

Series 4: Miscellany, 1836-1871 (Containers 25-27; some digital content not yet available)
Includes bills, circulars, notes, notebooks, journals, illustrations, and other material. The contents are arranged alphabetically by type of material and chronologically therein.

Series 5: Oversize, 1861-1869 (Containers OV 1-OV 2; digital content not yet available)
The items are arranged and described according to the series, container, and folder from which they were removed.