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Helen Dortch Longstreet papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS136

Scope and Contents

The Helen Dortch Longstreet papers include biographical materials, correspondence, speeches, manuscripts, newsclippings, and subject files, primarily documenting Longstreet's attempts to exonerate her husband from blame for the Confederacy's loss at the Battle of Gettysburg. The bulk of the collection is correspondence, including Sears Wilson Cabell, who served as treasurer of the Longstreet Memorial Association; her stepdaughter Lula Whelchel; Jessie P. Rothrock, North Carolina state chair of the Longstreet Memorial Association; and Joseph Rosensteel, park ranger at Gettysburg. Helen Dortch Longstreet's earlier papers are housed at the Georgia Historical Soceity in Savanah.


  • 1904-1963


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Biographical / Historical

Helen Dortch Longstreet (1863-1962) was born on April 20, 1863 in Franklin County, Georgia, to James Speed Dortch (?-1891) and Mary Pulliam (?-1927). She was an editor for local newspapers, including the Carnesville Tribune and the Milledgeville Chronicle. She attended the Notre Dame Convent in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1884, she earned a Bachelor of Arts at Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia, where she befriended Maria Louisa Longstreet (1872-1957), the daughter of American Confederate General James Longstreet. On September 8, 1897, she and James Longstreet (1821-1904) were married at the Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1894, Governor William Yates Atkinson appointed Helen Longstreet as Assistant State Librarian, the first woman to serve in that capacity. In 1904, she was appointed postmaster in Gainesville, a position she held until 1913. She founded the Longstreet Memorial Association in 1938, the purpose of which was to restore General Longstreet's reputation after he had been held responsible for Confederate losses during the Civil War. The association also raised funds for a statue of General Longstreet on the Gettysburg Battlefield. Her other activities included spearheading an effort to regain Tallulah Falls from the Georgia Power Company and lobbying for the establishment of Georgia Woman’s College in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Before World War II, Longstreet advocated non-intervention, but once the United States entered the war, she joined the war effort, working at the Bell Aircraft Plant in Marietta, Georgia. She launched an unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign against Herman Talmadge in 1950. In 1957, her family admitted her to Milledgeville State Hospital, where she remained until her death in May 1962. She is buried in Westview Cemetery.


1.4 linear ft. (three document cases and one half-sized document case)




This collection is arranged alphabetically by titles supplied by staff.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 1968

Separated Materials

Photographs have been separated to the Visual Culture Collections. Artifacts have been separated to the Museum Collection.

Bias in Description

As archivists, we acknowledge our role as stewards of information. We choose how individuals and organizations are represented and described in our archives. We are not neutral, and bias is reflected in our descriptions, which may not accurately convey the racist or offensive aspects of collection materials. Archivists make mistakes and might use poor judgment. In working with this collection, we often re-use language used by the former owners of the material. This language provides context but often includes bias and prejudices reflective of the time in which it was created. The Kenan Research Center’s work is ongoing to implement reparative language where Library of Congress subject terms are inaccurate and obsolete.

Kenan Research Center welcomes feedback and questions regarding our archival descriptions. If you encounter harmful, offensive, or insensitive terminology or descriptions, please let us know by emailing Your comments are essential to our work to create inclusive and thoughtful description.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in 2000.

Helen Dortch Longstreet papers
Laura V. Northrop
September 9, 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305