University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The items in the Digital Collections of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library contain materials which represent or depict sensitive topics or were written from perspectives using outdated or biased language. The Library condemns discrimination and hatred on any grounds. As a research library that supports the mission and values of this land grant institution, it is incumbent upon the University Library to preserve, describe, and provide access to materials to accurately document our past, support learning about it, and effect change in the present. In accordance with the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read statement, we do not censor our materials or prevent patrons from accessing them.

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McNitt Family Papers (Digitized Content)

The digitized content of the McNitt Family Papers consists of correspondence and related materials, dating from 1861 to 1886, of three sisters, Sophronia, Hellen, and Jennie McNitt. The bulk of the correspondence is between soldiers serving in the Illinois infantry during the Civil War and Sophronia McNitt.

The McNitts were a farming family who lived in rural Montgomery County, Illinois, near the townships of Hillsboro and Irving. The family, including the three daughters, Sophronia, Hellen, and Priscilla ("Jennie"), had connections throughout the county. During the Civil War, many men that they knew left the county to make lives in the West or fight in Illinois volunteer infantry regiments. These men, along with other friends, maintained connections to the McNitts through correspondence.

The digitized content contains letters written to the McNitt sisters, particularly Sophronia, by friends, suitors, or other connections from their local community in Montgomery County. These letters give a glimpse into the activities and lives of Civil War soldiers from rural Illinois, politics and anti-war movements of the 1860s, and courtship of the era.

The Illinois History and Lincoln Collections unit at the University of Illinois Library manages the physical items of the McNitt Family Papers (MS 117). The collection was partially digitized in 2018. For more information, contact an archivist at