Confederate Memorial Association
A Guide to the Confederate Memorial Association Records, 1896–1947
Call Number Mss3 C7602 a FA1
Ca. 1,600 items (14 manuscript boxes)
The idea of a Confederate Memorial Association was raised at the Confederate Veterans Reunion in Houston, Texas, in 1895. Charles Broadway Rouss, a native Virginian and wealthy New York businessman, offered a large sum toward the erection of a memorial building to maintain records and relics of the Confederate cause, if matching funds could be raised across the South. In the fall of that year, the designated Board of Trustees first met and the movement to fund a "Battle Abbey of the South" began in earnest.
Include minute books, correspondence, reports, accounts, and miscellany of the board of trustees, president, executive committee, secretary and treasurer of the Confederate Memorial Association. Also, include materials concerning the Confederate Memorial Institute, Richmond, Va., and its board of lady managers. Chiefly concerns the construction of a permanent memorial to the Confederate cause, to be located in the city of Richmond, and the subsequent design and building of "Battle Abbey."
The records of the Confederate Memorial Association were acquired by the Virginia Historical Society when the CMA was subsumed by the VHS in 1946. For a time they were maintained as a part of the archives of the Society, but are now catalogued as a separate manuscript collection open to researchers.
Series I. Corporate Body
The collection begins with records concerning the Confederate Memorial Association as a corporation. These include original and amended charters and bylaws; records of a suit in the U. S. District Court by Lucinda V. Bodenheimer concerning a personal injury sustained at the Confederate Memorial Institute in Richmond; and essays, pamphlets and other writings on the history of the organization.
Series II. Board of Trustees
Dated 1896–1901, the first minute book of the board of trustees is a typed transcript of the original. Volume II, 1902–1921, contains minutes of meetings of the Trustees and executive committee, as well as a letter of Governor William Hodges Mann offering a part of the Lee Camp Soldiers' Home grounds as a site for the Institute (pp. 185–186), and numerous reports and other documents tipped in. Loose minutes of the board are sporadic through the period 1909–1934, while the miscellaneous materials consist primarily of lists of board members.
Series III. Presidents
Records of five presidents of the Association are contained in the collection: James Taylor Ellyson (1906–1919), George Llewellyn Christian (1919–1923), Eppa Hunton (1924–1931), John Stewart Bryan (1933) and Douglas Southall Freeman (1934–1946). Much of their correspondence is with executive committee members concerning a site for the Institute and competition for architectural plans (1909–1911), the flag display at Battle Abbey (early 1940s) and the aquisition by the Virginia Historical Society (1946). Little correspondence exists for 1914–1919, and none for 1912–1913, 1915–1917, 1920–1921. Among the prominent correspondents are New York architect John Stewart Barney (1909–1911); Harry Flood Byrd (1929); William McKendree Evans, commander of the R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans (1936); Virginia governors William Hodges Mann (1910), George C. Peery (1935, 1937), John Garland Pollard (1930–1931), and James Hubert Price (1940); Norfolk architect Russell Edward Mitchell (1910); John Cox Underwood (1906); and West Virginia lawyer and judge Robert White, chairman of the executive committee (1909–1911). The presidents made reports to the United Confederate Veterans annually, and several of these are included for the period 1915–1925 (Box 6).
Series IV. Executive Committee
The executive committee for many years managed the Association's affairs most actively. Along with some sporadic minutes (see also Board of Trustees minute books), the collection includes correspondence, 1919–1924. This was primarily generated by George Llewellyn Christian, who during this period served as chairman of the committee and acting president as the result of deaths of several chief officers.
Series V-VI. Secretary and Treasurer
Correspondence of the Association's secretary was maintained by John William Jones (1899, 1904), Alvin M. Smith (1924) and Douglas Southall Freeman (1927–1935). Among the correspondents are Senator Carter Glass (1932) and William McKendree Evans, representing R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1 (1933). The treasurer's records are composed primarily of loose accounts, most of which summarize income and disbursements.
Series VII. Confederate Memorial Institute
The stated goal of the Confederate Memorial Association, to erect a Confederate Memorial Institute, was achieved after long years of debate and discussion. Richmond became the favored site, and negotiations over several parcels of land took place. The commonwealth of Virginia and R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans deeded a tract at the Boulevard and Kensington Avenue, part of the Lee Camp Soldiers' Home grounds, in 1910. The executive committee soon announced a competition for architectural plans for "Battle Abbey," which was won by Bissell and Sinkler of Philadelphia. Construction began in 1912.
Along with title records, the Institute materials include records of the architectural competition in 1910–1911. These consist of notices, the president's correspondence with architects and architectural firms (arranged alphabetically), jury awards, specifications and the resulting contract.
Series VIII. Board of Lady Managers
The Board of Trustees created a board of lady managers in 1919 to oversee the Institute's operations. All members and officers were Richmond residents. Their minute books (two volumes) were maintained by Dorothea Lee Antrim and Elizabeth Strother Bocock, secretaries. Presidents Elizabeth Carter (Minor) Funsten and Katherine Douglas (White) Ferrell and "Battle Abbey" custodian Irene Christian Harris generated most of the correspondence. The remaining account books primarily cover admissions and disbursements. Visitors registers exist for the entire period of the board's management, and the last volume includes one year when management had transferred to the Virginia Historical Society (1947).
Among the miscellaneous materials relating to "Battle Abbey" is a scrapbook kept by Lora Effie (Hotchkiss) Ellyson, which includes clippings, photographs, and correspondence of James Taylor Ellyson, an Association president (especially with Charles Hoffbauer). Other files concern the Robert E. Lee Headquarters papers, the murals painted by Charles Hoffbauer (including an agreement), and the collection pf paintings donated to Virginia by John Barton Payne. In 1919 the Association reached an agreement with the R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans mutually to fund and maintain an annex to the original building (later the central gallery and reading room). The Annex housed the portrait gallery and "archives" of the Lee Camp. Records include a general file, as well as sketches, correspondence, speeches and reminiscences of selected subjects of portraiture presented to the Camp in the 1920s and hung in "Battle Abbey" (see separate index). The last files contain essays and articles on the Institute; a speech of Robert White on the laying of the Institute's cornerstone in 1912 and a reminiscence by the same author; clippings and a scrapbook concerning the T. J. Jackson Monument Association; general miscellany and news clippings.
Series I. Corporate Body
Box 1: charter and by-laws; materials, 1932–1934, concerning Lucinda Y. Bodenheimer v. C. M. A.; essays, pamphlets, etc.
Series II. Board of Trustees
Box 1: minute book, 1896–1901 (transcript)
Box 2: minute book, 1902–1921; loose minutes, 1909–1934; miscellany
Series III. President
Boxes 3–6: correspondence, 1906–1946
Box 6: reports
Series IV. Executive Committee
Box 7: minutes, 1909–1910; 1920–1921; 1923–1924; 1931–1932; 1934–1935; 1937; correspondence, 1919–1924
Series V. Secretary
Box 8: correspondence, 1899; 1904; 1924–1925; 1927–1928; 1930–1935
Series VI. Treasurer
Boxes 8–9: reports, 1915, 1917; account book, 1921–1946; loose accounts, 1896, 1909–1946
Series VII. Confederate Memorial Institute, Richmond ("Battle Abbey")
Box 9: title records
Box 10: architectural competition, 1910–1911
Box 11: blueprints
Series VIII. Board of Lady Managers (Boxes 11–12)
Box 11: minute books, 1920–1923, 1924–1939; loose minutes, 1926–1937; reports, 1922, 1926, 1935–1940; governing rules and regulations
Box 12: correspondence, 1921–1940; account books, 1940–1942, 1945–1946; miscellany; visitors registers (15 vols.), 1921–1947 (filed on the open shelves following Box 12)
Box 13: scrapbook, 1896–1925; miscellaneous files: Lee Headquarters papers, Hoffbauer murals, Payne collection of paintings
Boxes 13–14: Lee Camp Portrait Gallery essays, articles, etc.; speech and reminiscence of Robert White; T. J. Jackson Monument Assoc.; general miscellany; newspaper clippings
Index to Lee Camp Portraits (Boxes 13–14)
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Last updated: July1, 2020