Latest News

09 Jun

Private Voices has been updated with more than a thousand letters from four Northern states: Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, an

10 Oct

Private Voices has been featured in Slate after the discovery of the phrase "kick ass" in one its featured letters.

13 Sep

Private Voices has launched! Here is the official press release:

10 Apr

Michael Ellis gave a "state-of-the-project" address on CACWL at the 82n

About Common Tongues

The Corpus of American Civil War Letters Project (CACWL), which we also call "Common Tongues," is a collection of thousands of letters written by Civil War soldiers who wrote "by ear." Instead of writing grammatically-correct English, these "transitionally literate" men used the alphabet to capture the sounds words made when they spoke them. The letters have been painstakingly collected by Professor Michael Ellis of Missouri State University, and the result is a linguistic bonanza: a body of evidence that captures the dialect and pronunciation of the under-educated classes of the Civil War generation. The CACWL is a bonanza for historians as well. Almost all of these men were army privates, and their letters reveal a great deal about the lives and motivations of the Civil War's common soldiers. Ellis has also produced a new book devoted to the collection's North Carolina soldiers and their usage of English.

Get in touch

  • Department of History

    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street

    University of Georgia

    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • admin@ehistory.org

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

Learn More about eHistory