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Louis Mahaffey Letters

Identifier: MSS-4240

Scope and Contents

This collection contains two notebooks with sixty-five transcribed letters from Louis Mahaffey, a US soldier in the Philippine-American War, to his family in Baltimore, Maryland. The letters span from November 24, 1899, when Mahaffey was sailing to the Philippines aboard the Logan; to April 16, 1901. Both notebooks bear the inscription “Harriet V. Mahaffey.”

Most of the letters were written from Santa Ana, Philippines. They describe battles, local culture, activities in Mahaffey’s military camp, and other aspects of the wartime atmosphere, including the derogatory terms for Filipinos and African American soldiers that were used among US military ranks at the time. The letters also mention US soldiers fighting on the Philippine side of the war, such as African American soldier David Fagen, whose defection was well-publicized in the American press.


  • 1899-1901

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections.

For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

The Philippine-American War began on February 4, 1899, in the wake of the Spanish-American War (April-August 1898). As a result of that war, Spain terminated its centuries-long colonial rule of the Philippines and ceded control of the islands to the United States in the December 1898 Treaty of Paris. Philippine forces, led by Emilio Aguinaldo, had declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. They did not recognize the treaty, and revolted against the new US regime. Troops were deployed from the United States to fight what Americans termed the “Philippine Insurrection.” US President Theodore Roosevelt declared an end to the war on July 4, 1902. The Philippines gained its independence from the United States on July 4, 1946.

Louis H. Mahaffey was born on August 4, 1876. He grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and had at least four siblings, Maggie, Harriet, Laura, and Charles. Louis Mahaffey enlisted in Company F of the US Volunteer Infantry, 41st Regiment, on November 13, 1899. He was sent overseas that month to fight in the Philippine-American War. His regiment was stationed in Mangalang and Santa Ana, Philippines. Mahaffey was given an honorable discharge on July 3, 1901. He married Helen E. Foreman around 1902. They had a son, Ronald. Louis Mahaffey died on January 11, 1952, and is buried in Baltimore National Cemetery (sources: internment, directory, military, and US Census records accessed through


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Language of Materials



Louis Mahaffey was a US soldier during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). This collection contains two notebooks of letters he wrote home to his family in Baltimore, Maryland, during his service overseas.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The University of Alabama Libraries acquired the Louis Mahaffey Letters in 2018.

Related Materials

Spanish-American War Photographs Collection, Org. Lot 254, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Wade Hall Spanish American War Photograph Collection, The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections

Wade Hall Stereo Cards, The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections

Processing Information

Processed by Erin Ryan, October 2018.
Guide to the Louis Mahaffey Letters
Erin Ryan
October 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266