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Diary of a Prisoner of War: A New Campaign and Challenge for Veterans' Day

“Today is the holy sabbath: but there is no sabbath here; Oh Liberty; Law & Order! Thou canst not be appreciated till thou art once lost.” -Samuel J. Gibson, diary entry for Sunday June 12, 1864

So wrote Union soldier Samuel J. Gibson in the depths of his agony while held as a prisoner of war at the notorious Andersonville prison camp in Georgia. Gibson’s diary of 1864-1865 documents part of his military service, prisoner of war experience, and ultimate release. Today we launch this new campaign and challenge you, the By the People community, to completely transcribe and review his 200 page diary, and a letter Gibson sent to his wife Rachel, by the end of Veterans' Day, November 11th. Once all of the pages have been reviewed we can publish the transcriptions back on where they’ll make these important documents fully searchable.

Documents such as Gibson's diary and letter connect each and every one of us to the past, but for some people this connection is personal. Several of Samuel Gibson’s descendants are alive today, including his great-great-granddaughter, Peggy. Read about what the diary means to her in a special blog post published today on the Library of Congress blog. 

This week we invite you to engage deeply with Gibson’s writings, and to treat your volunteer service as a chance to think about the veterans in your own life and your own history. Visit us on History Hub to keep track of progress on the Challenge, and stay tuned to your email for updates.


-Victoria and the By the People team

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