The Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library is a place of discovery. All are welcome to visit and explore our unique holdings, whether as a researcher or an observer. The breadth and depth of our collections are vast, and it is nearly impossible to investigate every nook and cranny. We invite you this year, through our blog, to tour some of those places you didn’t know existed, and get acquainted with collections you might not have previously explored. Check back in with us weekly over the course of 2013 as we offer you a delightful look into some of the favorite, but perhaps lesser-known, corners of our collections. These pieces are visually interesting, come attached with fascinating stories, and are often 3D objects you might not have realized are part of what makes up The Extraordinary World of MARBL.
William Sydnor Thomson (1843-1913) was born in Jefferson County, Virginia (later West Virginia), the son of a farmer and slaveholder. Thomson was a school master in Tennessee until the outbreak of the Civil War when he joined the Confederate Army and served in Stonewall Jackson’s brigade. Following the war, he moved to Atlanta and became a lawyer. He practiced law and served on various political bodies until his death in 1913. Included in his papers at MARBL are two solid shot cannonballs, weighing approximately twenty pounds each. This type of ammunition contained no explosive charge and was used primarily for its battering effect.