Early on in the Digital Center project, I worked on a description for the Robert Knox Sneden collection of “Sketches of Confederate Prisons.” I discovered that not only did this collection have an obsolete call number, but it was not listed in either our OPAC or our graphics card catalog. The only way to find this collection was by searching our Access database. This still remains true, and will until we import our database into Archivists’ Toolkit sometime toward the end of the DCA project. It pains me to know that little gems like the Sneden drawings are unknown to researchers, so I thought I could at least add a little plug for it here until it gets an OPAC record and is visible in our still-in-progress DAMS.
This collection consists of eight mounted wash and ink drawings of Confederate prisons by Robert Knox Sneden during his service with the 40th New York volunteers during the Civil War. Each is captioned, identifying the prison, describing the site, listing the number of prisoners, noting how many deaths occurred there, along with the date when he was imprisoned there. The watercolors are copies of original sketches done by Sneden while in the service. They offer extensively detailed perspectives on the prisons, and suggest the difficult conditions within the walls of the buildings Sneden illustrated.
Sneden was a mapmaker with the 40th NY Vols., Army of the Potomac. Sneden was captured by Confederate forces in 1863, and was imprisoned in the Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia. His nearly 1,000 maps and paintings, along with his 5,000 page manuscript were edited and abridged into a book published by the Virginia Historical Society, “The Eye of the Storm.”