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Powell, George May (1835-1905) Papers of George May Powell [decimalized]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00687 Author/Creator: Powell, George May (1835-1905) Place Written: [various places] Type: Header Record Date: 1858-1909 Pagination: 279 items

The George May Powell collection contains personal and family correspondence. Also included are business papers relating to his Thirteenth Amendment anti-slavery photograph, his inventions, and his publications; a diary, letters, and essays regarding his post-war travel, and religious and pacifist correspondence and essays.

The collection is divided into the following series: 1) correspondence with Emma C. Small, 1860-1868; 2) George May Powell Company business records (13th Amendment photo); 3) Post-war expedition to Egypt and Palestine diary, records, and maps; 4) American Christian Commission and Evangelical Press Association correspondence; 5) Peace activities: Christian Arbitration and Peace Society, Arbitration Council correspondence (views on the Boer War, the Homestead strike, international peace courts, and compensation for Mexican land); 6) Forestry and fireproofing work in New York (1873-1909): correspondence and records; 7) Essays and patents, including 1864 pro-Lincoln speech "Facts and figures for the hour;" 8) Condell Lifelimb Company records and correspondence; 9) Miscellaneous letters and ephemera, 1858-1904 (includes postcards, tax receipts, bills, check stubs, music scale book, and personal letters); 10) Biographical information, newsclippings, and photographs.

A full inventory is available and linked to this entry.

Powell was a Lincoln supporter and served as a statistician in the Treasury Department during the Civil War. He was an inventer, social reformer, evangelical, entrepreneur, pacifist, and archaeologist. His philosophy and life combined social Christianity and capitalist enterprise. The Republican Party in the 1864 election used Powell's 1863 article, favorably comparing American wartime excise taxes with those of other countries at peace. His photographic montage of supporters of the Thirteenth Amendment (included in this collection) was very popular. Active in religious work as a young man, he was the secretary and manager of the Evangelistic Press Association and led a topographical corps through Egypt and North Africa to create Sunday School maps of Palestine and the Holy Land. He invented many devices both during and after the Civil War, and pursued economic ventures in enterprises such as the Cordell Life Limb company, providing prosthetics for Civil War veterans. After the war he founded the Evangelical Press Association in 1868, led the Oriental Topographical Corps in an archaeological expedition to Egypt and Palestine in 1873 (publishing colored maps and lecturing widely after his return), and ran unsuccessfully for Congress on the Prohibition Ticket. He worked to promote fireproof structures and participated in the American Forestry Commission, the Grange and Patrons of Husbandry, the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, and the National Geographic Society. He was active in Sabbath reform work.

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