Skip to main content

Cordie Meanley Diaries

Identifier: MS 00139

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Content Description

Cordelia (Cordie) Meanley’s diary consists of two bound books. The smaller one consists of 184 pages, covering the period from August 1862 to November 1863 (Book 1). The larger one has about 220 pages, running from November 1863 to November 1871 (Book 2).

In both books, there are some gaps between dates, despite Cordie Meanley’s declared intent on the first page “to keep a diary of my life.” Some pages reflect subsequent revisions or deletions.

Generally, her diary (written in a neat, legible hand, but with different inks) reflects the concerns of a young, single woman of the South living in a time of war and its aftermath. She often begins her diary entry with a comment about “the weather,” but then moves to that day’s particular concern(s): a pleasant visit with family or friends; an inability to see family or friends (or even to get news of them); the day’s good war news or bad war news (including the deaths of persons she knew); and - for a mid-19th century, single woman - matters of the heart.

As the war continues, her diary increasingly reflects the changing nature of warfare and the suffering experienced in her part of Virginia. She mourns the death of men like Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart. She struggles continually with the call of her Christian faith (“to love one another”) and her antipathy of Yankee soldiers.


  • Creation: 1862-1871


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers. 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, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical / Historical

According to her marker at Williamsburg’s Cedar Grove Cemetery, Cordie Meanley was born in 1836 and died in 1912. She was the wife of James A. Banks, whom she married in 1877. At the time she started Book 1, she was 26 years old, single, and living at “Marl Hill,” a place in New Kent County on Virginia’s Peninsula. Marl Hill is about 25 miles east of Richmond. She also lived in Richmond during the war years, apparently working as a clerk in one of the government offices.


0.25 Linear Feet




One book approximately 6 3/8" X 7 5/8" (16.5 cm X 19.5 cm) in size and the other about 8" X 10" (20.5 cm X 25.5 cm) in size.

Processing Information

Enhanced description by Robert Browne in July 2019.

Guide to the Cordie Meanley Diaries
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository