Scope and arrangement
The collection contains letters to and from Van Lew together with letters relating to her (1862-1901, undated). The more substantial portion of the collection is in the form of her personal narrative of the war in Richmond, touching on such issues as the treatment of federal prisoners, treachery and espionage among the citizenry, and the Southern attitude towards the war. There are notes on her ancestry and spying; photographs of herself and the Van Lew mansion; artifacts such as rings and studs carved out of animal bone by the federal prisoners in Libby Prison and presented to her in gratitude for the services she rendered in their aid. The cipher that she used to send coded messages to Union commanders is also present. Finally, there are newspaper clippings about her death (1900).