One of the great benefits of having scholars actually USE your collections is that they teach you about them. It is impossible (and in most cases irresponsible) to be a specialist as a librarian. For the most part, our collections are so broad that to specialize in one area is to ignore another.
A researcher is working diligently on a history of Battery G, First regiment, Rhode Island Light Infantry Volunteers (a group of about 150 men), the only Rhode Island unit that still lacks a published history.
One of the men in the battery was Captain James A. Barber (1841-1925), of Westerly, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on June 16, 1866, “for gallant and meritorious conduct in action at Petersburg, Va., April 2, 1865, he being one of a number of picked artillerymen who voluntarily accompanied an infantry assaulting party and turned upon the enemy the guns captured in the assault.”
The diary in our collection is a field diary (dated January 1, 1861 to December 14, 1862), written at the time Barber was serving, rather than a fair copy made later (the John Hay Library at Brown University has two fair copy diaries that Barber kept, dated 1863 & 1864). It also contains the photo shown here and his obituary from the Westerly Sun (June 26, 1925). Here is a scan of the leather cover with its little protective flap, as well as one opening, showing 2 of over 100 written pages of the diary.