The Albion Tourgee Papers, Online Exhibit
The Tourgee papers document a unique personal view of history from roughly 1862 thru 1905, as hundreds of American Citizens wrote over 10,000 letters to Judge Tourgee, an influential public figure promoting racial equality for the recently freed colored people of the post civil war era.
In this online exhibit, we highlight over 300 artifacts which deliver a uniquely personal insight into historic events happening at that time. These are accompanied by an in-depth narrative that guides you thru this introspective collection, so you can learn history through primary sources, from the people who lived it, not from a condensed school book.
The online exhibit is organized into "Sections" and "Chapters" and "Pages". Many pages contain an image of an artifact with a link to the original item for further research. At the bottom of each page you'll find links to additional content for continued learning through the Library of Congress and other websites.
Each page also contains links to interactive discussion forums. You can ask questions, share opinions and compare the racial equality struggles of over 100 years ago, with the struggles we continue to face today. We encourage your intelligent discussions in the forums as a way you can improve our world going forward into the future.
Learn about who Albion Tourgée was, his early life and education, and his courtship and marriage to Emma Kilbourne
In the aftermath of the American Civil War, people from all parts of the country and all walks of life were asking themselves, privately and publicly, “What would now be the relationship between the two races?” For people like Albion Tourgee, who had served and followed the war and subsequent political fallout from it, that question was already answered by the outcome of the conflict: a new Union with full and equal citizenship for all men…for Tourgee, the question was “How will the new Union serve its citizens?”
The so-named “Gilded Age” that ushered in American literary “realism” and political “progressivism” while attacking past and present injustices, ultimately did little to address the future of resolving race prejudice in national, state or local government circles.
Everyday citizens as well as state and local leaders began to acknowledge the laws and legislation being enacted seemed more likely to preserve old attitudes and prejudices, rather than establish equal treatment, leading in many instances, to sentiments favoring a deeper division between the races.