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Collection of Benjamin Franklin Butler Materials

Identifier: CAMS BUTLER-1

Scope and Contents

The collection contains letters between Butler and many other correspondents as well as letters regarding Butler, primarily from during and after the Civil War Years. There are also military, legal, and other documents, manuscripts, photographs and other visual materials, scrapbooks, clippings and publications, and some modern materials pertaining to Butler, both Colby-connected and otherwise.


  • Creation: 1835 - 2004


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials to be used on site during regular Special Collections hours or by appointment. Photocopying or scanning may be possible at discretion of staff for nominal fee. Materials may be protected by copyright.

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1818 and a graduate of Waterville College from Massachusetts, Benjamin F. Butler was a lawyer, general, and politician. During the Civil War, Butler served as a general in the Union Army, commanding federal forces during the occupation of New Orleans. Butler also developed the legal theory that allowed fugitive slaves behind Union lines to be declared contraband of war, which ultimately became the official military policy allowing Union generals to refuse to return fugitive slaves to the South, instead employing them to work for military purposes. After the war, Butler returned to Massachusetts, serving first in the U. S. House of Representatives, where he was a leader in the effort to impeach President Andrew Johnson, and later as the Governor of Massachusetts. Butler unsuccessfully ran for the presidency in 1884. He died in 1893.


22.0 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Materials by or about Butler.


Correspondence from Butler, Correspondence to Butler, Correspondence Regarding Butler, Butler Family Correspondence, Military Documents, Personal Documents, Manuscripts, Legal Papers, Loose Photographs and Visual Materials, Scrapbooks; Clippings and Publications--Butler Era, Modern Documents, Clippings, and Publications

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials acquired by gift or purchase. Donors include Ben Ames Williams, Jr., the Trustees of the Paul Butler Trust, the Colby Library Associates, James A. Healy, Mrs. Ben Ames Williams, Joseph Coburn Smith, and Ruth R. Nivison.

Finding Aid to the Collection of Benjamin Franklin Butler Materials
Colby College Special Collections, Waterville, Maine
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Colby College Archives Repository

Special Collections & Archives (SC&A), located in Miller Library, is the college’s repository for historically and culturally -significant materials, including the college archives. Our fabulous materials range in date from the 12th to the 21st centuries and represent a wide range of formats. We fully support Colby’s academic program and innovative pedagogies through aspirational collection development, faculty and student engagement, teaching and exhibition.