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Meigs family papers

1848-1958 Majority of material found within 1875-1910
Accession: 2162


The papers document the lives and careers of three generations of the immediate and extended family that began with famed Civil War officer Montgomery C. Meigs (1816-1892). The most notable members include his son, engineer Montgomery Meigs (1847-1931) and granddaughter and author Cornelia Meigs (1884-1973). The materials are about equally divided between professional activities and domestic family concerns.


  • 1848-1958
  • Majority of material found within 1875-1910



3 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

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 (1836-1885). 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 Meig'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). They had six daughters, of whom five are represented in the papers: Mary Meigs Atwater (1878-1956), Louisa Meigs Green (1879-1944), Grace Meigs Crowder (1881-1925), Cornelia Meigs (1884-1973), Emily Frances Meigs Fales (1888-1970), and Alice Meigs Orr (1888-1967).

Cornelia Meigs is the most notable of the Meigs children. She was born in Rock Island, Illinois. 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.

Cornelia Meigs sister's are also featured in the papers. They wrote voluminous letters describing their experiences both at home and abroad. Mary Meigs Atwater married Max Atwater (1878–1919), a mining engineer, whose work took them to South America in 1908. Grace Meigs Crowder studied medicine in Austria and Germany in 1911 to 1912. Alice Meigs Orr married Arthur Orr (1884–1955), a young diplomat, and was in Paris during World War I.

Scope and Content

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 General 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 "Mont" Meigs, 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 Orr, from Japan. Orr'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, Massachusetts. 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.

Related Material

Montgomery C. Meigs papers (MSS 32540), Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Rodgers Family papers (MSS 38125), Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Papers of Cornelia Meigs (ML 41), Dartmouth College Library, Hanover, New Hampshire

Meigs/Rodgers Family papers, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia

Rodgers Family papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Language of Materials


Additional Information

Additional Description


Gift of Albert S. Cooke Library, Towson University, Maryland.

Consist of materials collected by Cornelia Meigs.

Related Names


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Meigs family papers
Jason Sylvestre
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA