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Florence and Ellen Burke letters

Collection MS-2018-023: Florence and Ellen Burke letters


  • Creation: 1848 - 1864

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence between Florence Burke and his wife Ellen while he was serving as a Union soldier in the American Civil War. Also included is a letter from Charles Brown and Joseph Bell Alexander, of Brown & Alexander, Embalming Surgeons, regarding the cost of exhuming Burke’s body from its initial burial place in Virginia. Additionally, the collection contains three tintypes, two of which are images of Burke, and a copy of a deed for his purchase of some farmland.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research; digital version also available.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note: Florence Burke

Florence Burke was born in 1828 in County Cork, Ireland. He immigrated to the United States, along with his brother John, in 1848 to escape the Great Famine. Burke eventually moved to West Springfield, Massachusetts and became a tenant farmer. He married Ellen Daly and together they had three children.

On January 5, 1864, Burke enlisted to serve with the 37th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. He was killed in action on June 18, 1864 at the Second Battle of Petersburg.


Bowen, James L. History of the Thirty-seventh Regiment, Mass., Volunteers, in the Civil War of 1861-1865, with a Comprehensive Sketch of the Doings of Massachusetts as a State, and of the Principal Campaigns of the War. By James L. Bowen. Holyoke, Mass., New York: C.W. Bryan & Company, 1884.

Burke, Florence to Ellen Burke letter, 1864 February 17, Box 1, Folder 8, Florence and Ellen Burke letters, MS.2018.023, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

"Find A Grave Memorial." Find A Grave. Accessed August 30, 2018.

Langan, Sheila. "149 Years Later, Civil War Letters in Attic Reveal Famine Irish Immigrant's Life (PHOTOS)." September 23, 2016. Accessed August 30, 2018.


.25 Linear Feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



This collection contains letters between Florence Burke, a Union soldier during the American Civil War, and his wife Ellen. There is also a letter from Charles Brown and Joseph Bell Alexander to Ellen concerning the exhumation of her husband's body from the battlefield. Additionally, there are tintypes and a copy of a land purchase deed.




Gift of Ellen Alden, Janice Baker, and Mike Baker, January 2018.

Existence of digital copies

This collection is available digitally. Links are included in the inventory.

Related Materials

Bernard and Margaret Hayes letters, MS.2018.026, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

George Byron Lord letters, MS.1986.162, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Isaac Plumb, Jr. family papers, MS.2018.011, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Michael H. Leary letters, MS.1986.043, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Processing Information

Attributions for the tintype images are courtesy of "149 years later, Civil War letters in attic reveal a famine Irish immigrant’s life," by Sheila Langan, Irish Central, September 23, 2016.

Florence and Ellen Burke Letters
1848-1864 (bulk 1864)
Stephanie Hall
August 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States