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Collection Number: 00169-z

Collection Title: Laura Beecher Comer Papers, 1862-1899

This collection has access restrictions. For details, please see the restrictions.

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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Size 9 items
Abstract Laura Beecher Comer was a native of Connecticut and niece of Henry Ward Beecher who married James Comer (1797-1864) of Georgia. The collection includes diaries, 1862-1863, 1866-1868. and 1872-1873, of Laura (Beecher) Comer, recording daily life at Columbus, Ga., her religious sentiments, and, in the later volumes, her trips to the North and to Europe. Also, six letters, 1896-1899, from Laura Comer to a cousin in Savannah, Ga., discussing family matters.
Creator Comer, Laura Beecher, 1817-1900.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
This collection contains additional materials that are not processed and are currently not available to researchers. For information about access to these materials, contact Research and Instructional Services staff. Please be advised that preparing unprocessed materials for access can be a lengthy process.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Laura Beecher Comer Papers #169-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All or part of this collection is available on microfilm from University Publications of America as part of Southern women and their families in the 19th century, Series A.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mrs. E. T. Comer of Savannah, Ga., before 1940 and in 1944 and from Mrs. Howard J. Morrison of Savannah, Ga., in August 1984.
Sensitive Materials Statement
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, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Laura Beecher Comer was born in New Haven, Conn., in 1817, the daughter of Lysias Beecher and Lucy Tolles Beecher, and the niece of prominent clergyman Henry Ward Beecher. Following her first marriage to a Mr. Hayes, she moved south to open a school for girls. In 1848, she married James Comer (1797-1864), a cotton planter in Alabama. She and her husband purchased a house in Columbus, Ga., in 1853, where Laura lived until her death on 5 January 1900.

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Three diaries of Laura Beecher Comer; six letters from Laura to her Comer relatives in Alabama; and a newspaper clipping about Windsor Castle in England. The diaries document Laura's everyday activities in Columbus, Ga., and her thoughts and emotions on a variety of topics, including religion and family relationships, her unhappy marriage and distrust of humanity, and her problems with family servants, both slaves and freedmen. Other diary entries describe Laura's travels in Alabama, the northeast United States and Europe, and the settlement of her husband's estate and the sale of his cotton plantations. The letters are chiefly concerned with news about the activities of Comer family members in Alabama.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Diaries, 1862-1873.

3 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Folder 1

Volume 1: January 1862-April 1863 #00169-z, Series: "1. Diaries, 1862-1873." Folder 1

Laura Beecher Comer's diary, with almost daily entries recording her everyday life, household management, and finances; her thoughts on a variety of topics, including religious sentiments; her often cantankerous comments on human nature; complaints about her unhappy marriage and her relationships with various friends and relatives; and her troubles with family slaves. There are also a few scattered entries on national politics and the Civil War and descriptions of travel in Alabama. 133 p.

Folder 2

Volume 2: September 1866-July 1868 #00169-z, Series: "1. Diaries, 1862-1873." Folder 2

Laura Beecher Comer's diary after the Civil War and her husband's death in 1864. Many of the themes of the first volume are continued in the diary entries, including her thoughts on religion and family relationships and activities, her general depression and mistrust of humanity, and her continuing problems with servants--now freedmen. The diary also contains descriptions of Laura's travels in Virginia, Washington, D.C., New York, and Connecticut, and of her visits to her husband's cotton plantations in Alabama, as she attempted to settle his estate and sell the plantations. 134 p.

Folder 3

Volume 3: June 1872-December 1873 #00169-z, Series: "1. Diaries, 1862-1873." Folder 3

Laura Beecher Comer's diary entries for 1872 to 1873. As in the previous volumes, topics include news of friends and family, descriptions of daily life, and comments on religion. A great portion of the volume consists of accounts of Laura's travels to visit her family in New York and Connecticut and a voyage by ship to Europe, including detailed descriptions of her encounters with natives and her visits to tourist attractions in London, Paris, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Edinburgh. 145 p.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Correspondence and Other Items, 1892-1899.

7 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Six letters, 1896-1899, from Laura Beecher Comer to her "Cousin Lilla," wife of Hugh Moss Comer, in Alabama, on social news and family concerns, and a newspaper clipping, 11 September 1892, about Windsor Castle in Windsor, England.

Folder 4

Correspondence and other items #00169-z, Series: "2. Correspondence and Other Items, 1892-1899." Folder 4

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Processing Information

Processed by: Elizabeth Pauk, September 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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