Meigs family papers
Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library
PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
Finding aid prepared by Jason Sylvestre, June 2007
This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2014-07-16T11:06-0400
Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Cite items for this collection in the following format:
Gift of Albert S. Cooke Library, Towson University, Maryland.
Consist of materials collected by Cornelia Meigs.
Montgomery C. Meigs (1816-1892), was a career army officer who graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1836. Meigs spent the majority of his career in the Army Corps of Engineers, directing engineering projects from 1852 to 1882. He is most famous for his superb service as Quartermaster General of the Union Army during the Civil War. Montgomery C. Meigs married Louisa Rodgers (1817-1879), daughter of Commodore John Rodgers and Minerva Denison Rodgers (1784-1877).
Three children of Montgomery's and Louisa Rodger Meigs are represented in the papers, Mary Meigs Taylor (1843-1930), John Rodgers Meigs (1842-1864), and Montgomery (Mont) Meigs (1847-1931). Mary Meigs Taylor married an Army Colonel, Joseph Hancock Taylor. John Rodgers Meigs served in the Union Army and was killed in 1864 by Confederate guerillas. Montgomery C. Meigs believed that his son was killed because of Montgomery's position of Quartermaster General.
Montgomery Meigs followed his father and pursued the career of a civil engineer in the Army Corps of Engineers, working on navigation and flood control dams on the Mississippi River. Most of Montgomery's working life was spent on the northern parts of the river near Keokuk, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois. Montgomery Meigs married Grace Lynde (1859-1925). Montgomery and Grace had six daughters, of whom five are represented in the papers: Mary Meigs Atwater, Grace ("Dick," "Richard") Meigs Crowder, Emily ("Tim," "Timmy") Meigs Fales, Louisa ("Spidge," "Weesy") Meigs Green, Cornelia Meigs, and Alice ("Po," "Posey") Meigs Orr.
Cornelia Meigs (1884-1973), is the most notable of the Meigs children. Cornelia, the fifth of six sisters, was born in Rock Island, Ill. Like several of her older sisters she attended Bryn Mawr College, where she received her A.B. degree in 1908. In 1915 she published her first book, The Kingdom of the Winding Road, and followed it with more than twenty-five other children's books. Later in life she wrote several books for adults, among them The Violent Men, in 1949, and in 1953 she was part author and editor of a comprehensive critique of children's books, A Critical History of Children's Literature.
Montgomery and Grace's other daughters are also featured in the papers. The other children wrote voluminous letters describing their experiences both at home and abroad. Daughter Mary married Max Atwater, a mining engineer, whose work took them to South America in 1908. Another daughter, Grace, studied medicine in Austria and Germany in 1911-1912. Alice, married Arthur Orr, a young diplomat, and was in Paris during World War I.
The Meigs family papers consist of correspondence between three generations of the family. It represents a portion of the family's papers that passed into the possession of Cornelia Meigs and was left in the ancestral family summer home at Havre-de-Grace, Maryland. The papers are primarily family-centered correspondence, including letters, postcards, and ephemera and deal with family affairs, including illnesses, deaths and condolences, travel, education, and to a lesser extent, business and civic affairs. Taken as a whole, the papers give a picture of the private, everyday life of a notable family with elite military traditions.
Among the papers of Montgomery C. Meigs is a copy of the letter from President Lincoln to Gen. Winfield Scott appointing Meigs to the post of Quartermaster General. However, the bulk of these papers are family-oriented, including correspondence with his children and his brothers William and (Samuel) Emlen Meigs. Most correspondence is with his son, Montgomery, covering the latter's time at West Point and his early engineering career.
The papers of Montgomery Meigs include some description of his engineering work on the upper Mississippi and his life in Keokuk, including his involvement with the Army Corps of Engineers and the local arm of the "good roads movement." A large number of letters deal with the illness and death of his wife Grace Lynde Meigs. There is extensive correspondence with his children. The husbands of Alice Meigs Orr and Mary Meigs Atwater spent much of their professional lives abroad, and both daughters regularly sent letters and postcards from foreign countries, particularly, in the case of Alice, from Japan. Alice's papers include a large Japanese woodcut of samurai and a program of the annual festival of the Great Temple of Nikko.
The papers of Cornelia Meigs include yearbooks and other material relating to her life at Bryn Mawr College in the early 1900s, with an emphasis on extra-curricular activities. Her later letters discuss family affairs and travel, and her treatment for nervous disorders at Cook County Hospital and at Devereaux Mansion in Marblehead, Mass. At Devereaux, Cornelia befriended Dr. Herbert J. Hall, a pioneer in the "work cure" method of occupational therapy. Hall also wrote children's poetry, and he and Cornelia exchanged poems, criticisms and suggestions. Cornelia collected Hall's poems and letters into a bound volume after his death in 1923.
There are smaller amounts of correspondence for members of the Rodgers family line.
Atwater, Mary Meigs
Bryn Mawr College.
Ferdinand Herold (Steamship).
Good roads movement.
Green, Louisa M.
Hall, Herbert J. (Herbert James), 1870-1923
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
Lynde, Francis, 1856-1930
Macomb, Anne Minerva Rodgers, 1824-1916
Meigs, Charles D. (Charles Dulecena), 1792-1869
Meigs, Cornelia, 1884-1973
Meigs, John Rodgers , 1842-1864
Meigs, Louisa Rodgers
Meigs, Montgomery C. (Montgomery Cunningham), 1816-1892
Meigs, Montgomery, 1847-1941
Middle class families.
Orr, Alice Meigs
Rodgers, Henry, d. 1854
Rodgers, John, 1773-1838
Rodgers, John, 1812-1882
Rodgers, Minerva Denison, 1784-1877
Taylor, Mary Montgomery Meigs, 1843-1885
United States. Army Corps of Engineers.
Women authors--United States.