Skip to main content

James D. McCabe papers

Identifier: MS-0080

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The papers consist of letterbooks, unpublished manuscripts, and photographs dating from 1862 to 1881. The correspondence in McCabe's letterbooks deals chiefly with business and family matters. The letters to his publishers, T.J. Jones, National Publishing, United States Publishing, George H. Blalock, American Publishing, Ziegler, McCurdy and Co., and Hanaford and Co. concern details regarding his works and frequent requests for advances. The family letters focus on the problems of his elderly parents and caring for his younger siblings. Correspondents include Robert E. Lee, George E. Pickett, Shuyler Colfax, James A. August, George S. Boutwell, J.R. Jones, T.J. Jones, T.W. Brown, George A. Rosecrans, E. Bliss, Jr., William G. McAdoo, Horatio Seymour, Robert A. McCabe, William P. McCabe, Daniel T. McCabe, John C. McCabe and J.D. McCabe, Sr.

McCabe's unpublished manuscripts indicate his "Cut and Paste" method that produced his voluminous popular works. Of interest in his History of the War Between the States (1862) written in the midst of that conflict; a play, Arthur Pendragon, adapted from Tennyson's Idyls of the King; a biographical sketch of temperance leader Francis Murphy and anecdotal histories of the Mormons and of the United States.


  • Creation: 1862-1881


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

James Dabney McCabe, Jr. was born in Richmond, Virginia on July 30, 1842, the son of James D. McCabe, an Episcopal clergyman and editor. Educated at Virginia Military Institute, McCabe spent the Civil War period writing plays (The Guerilla); pamphlets ("Fanaticism and Its Results. By a Southerner"); war stories, ("The Aide de Camp"); biographies (Stonewall Jackson [1863]), Robert E. Lee [1867]); poetry ("The Sword of Harry Lee"); history (The Gray Jackets [1867]) and a journal, Magnolia Weekly [1863-64]. He was a Confederate supporter and may have also served in the Confederate War Department for a time.

Following the war McCabe continued his prolific writing in Boston, New York (where for a time he apparently worked for Fithian and Co., Virginia Tobacco Merchants), and finally in Germantown, Pennsylvania, where he died on January 27, 1883.

His later works (some written under a pseudonym, Edward Winslow Martin) include Paris by Sunlight and Gaslight (1869), Great Fortunes and How They Were Made (1871), History of the War Between Germany and France (1871), Lights and Shadows of New York (1872), Behind the Scenes in Washington (1873), History of the Grange Movement (1874), Centennial History of the United States (1875), Pathways of the Holy Land (1877), National Encyclopedia of Business and Social Forms (1879), Our Martyred President (1871) and Our Young Folk in Africa (1882).


1.26 Cubic Feet (3 letter size document boxes, 1 custom box (8 x 5.5 x 2.25 inches), 1 custom box (8 x 5.5 x 2.25 inches))

Language of Materials



James D. McCabe, Jr. (1842-1883) was a Confederate supporter and a popular writer of more than 30 works including histories, biographies, and plays. The collection consists of letterbooks, unpublished manuscripts, and photographs dating from 1862 to 1881.

Custodial History

The McCabe papers were discovered in 1982 among the papers of Herbert Baxter Adams. Not all the McCabe items listed in the Johns Hopkins University Circular of June 1891 were located. Missing were manuscripts on the History of the United States Navy (595 pp.), the History of the War (13 vols.) and the Life of Napoleon (3 vols, 1311 pp.).

The papers appear to have been damaged by fire [perhaps the Library fire of 1908], and there are gaps and unidentified material.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The McCabe papers were part of a major collection of Americana given to the University by J. Thomas Scharf in 1891 (MS.0081). Most of the Scharf collection had been on deposit at the Maryland Historical Society since 1905, but portions remained at Johns Hopkins.

Related Materials

James D. McCabe may have been related (an nephew or a cousin) to Robert A. McCabe whose papers form the collection MS.0216 in Special Collections.

Other McCabe correspondence may be found in the John Thomas Scharf papers (MS.0081) in Special Collections.

Related material can be found in the McCabe Collection Ms. 1527 at the Maryland Historical Society.

Processing Information

Processed by Dr. Ben Primer in July 1982.

Rachel Gattermeyer revised the biographical note and abstract in this finding aid in October 2023 to bring them into compliance with Johns Hopkins guidelines for inclusive and conscientious description (2023). The previous version of the finding aid is available upon request.

James D. McCabe papers
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA