The collection consists of a diary, a photograph, and two letters, mainly documenting the Civil War service of Jonathan A. Catlin in the Illinois Volunteer Infantry.
Jonathan A. Catlin joined Company G of the 52nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry in 1861. The 52nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry was engaged in the Battle of Shiloh, the Siege of Corinth, operations against Vicksburg, the Atlanta Campaign, and the March to the Sea. Throughout the war, Catlin recorded his experiences in his diary, periodically commenting on battles and skirmishes in the Western theater of the war.
The collection contains Catlin's diary, an undated photograph of Catlin taken in Quincy, Illinois, and two letters. Catlin's diary contains a few entries on his life before and after the Civil War, but mainly documents his experience in the war. Catlin wrote one of the letters from Corinth, Mississippi, on August 7, 1863, describing the execution of a Confederate spy. The collection also contains a letter dated January 14, 1883 from Jane Van Horn of Churchville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to her cousins in Illinois.
The collection was bought by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1997, and placed in the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections in 2004.