unc logo

Collection Number: 04530

Collection Title: Caroline Brooks Lilly Diary and Account Book, 1835-1849

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

This collection has use 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 FAQ section for more information.


expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 7 items)
Abstract Caroline Brooks Lilly (1803-1846) was a teacher and homemaker on a farm in Montgomery County, N.C. The collection consists of the diary, 1835-1849, and account book, 1838-1848, of Caroline Brooks Lilly. The diaries document Lilly's life as a teacher in small, rural schools, including her philosophy of teaching, her attempts to balance her teaching career and domestic duties after her marriage in 1839, and her religious life. The account book consists chiefly of records of students' accounts. After Lilly's death in 1846, a few entries were made in both the diary and the account book by her husband, James Marshall Lilly.
Creator Lilly, Caroline Brooks, 1803-1846.
Language English
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
Microfilm may not be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan.
Restrictions to Use
No copying or extensive quotation without written permission from the donors.
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 Caroline Brooks Lilly Diary and Account Book #4530, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy (filmed August 1989) available.
  • Reel 1: entire collection
This microfilm may not be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan.
Alternate Form of Material
A typed transcription of volumes 1 through 6 is available.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Al Baldwin of Chapel Hill, Jane R. Baldwin, and Barbara B. Highfill in March 1989 (89018) and from Al Baldwn in July 2005 (Acc. 100136).
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.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Related Collections

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Caroline Brooks Lilly was born in Chatham County, N.C., on 17 July 1803. It is not clear where she spent her childhood, although Moore County seems likely. She received a small amount of formal schooling, which was supplemented by self teaching. In March 1836, Caroline arrived in Concord, Cabarrus County, N.C., to take charge of a female school, which soon after opened its doors to both boys and girls. In the spring of 1838, Caroline established a new school in Montgomery County, N.C., where she was to spend the rest of her life. In January 1845, she was running a day school at Scuppleton School House, about a mile from her home.

Caroline married James Marshall Lilly, a farmer with holdings on the banks of the Pee Dee River, in 1839, after a short courtship. Caroline and James had six children together before she died in September 1846.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The diary of Caroline Brooks Lilly (1803-1846), a teacher and homemaker on a farm in Montgomery County, N.C., opens in 1835 with a short biographical sketch. In March 1836, Caroline arrived in Concord, Cabarrus County, N.C., to take charge of a female school, which soon after opened its doors to both boys and girls. She took her teaching responsibilities very seriously, and her diary contains frequent expositions on her philosophy of education and teaching. For example, on 4 April 1836, she wrote: "Nothing deserves more attention than the education of the rising generation and that instructor who does not carefully watch over & cultivate the intellect of those immortal beings entrusted to his care is guilty of a crime of no ordinary magnitude."

Diary entries also reflect her interest in religion. She often described the camp meetings she attended and evaluated the sermons of preachers she traveled many miles to hear. In addition, the diary was a forum for self chastisement, with many lamentations on her lack of religious fortitude and other failings.

In the spring of 1838, Caroline established a new school in Montgomery County, N.C., where she was to spend the rest of her life. On 1 January 1839, after a short courtship, she married James Marshall Lilly, a farmer with holdings on the banks of the Pee Dee River. In February 1839, diary entries indicate, the Lilly household numbered around 20 people, including about ten boarding students of both sexes and perhaps eight slaves, some of whom were children. James planted wheat, corn, and a small amount of cotton; Caroline, besides maintaining her school, raised turkeys and chickens and supervised a large kitchen garden.

By 1840, James seems to have been spending almost as much time in the classroom as his wife, who was kept busy tending twin girls born 29 September 1839. Increasingly, the diary reflects Caroline's disenchantment with the life of the school mistress and growing fascination with the domestic scene. Throughout the early 1840s, she expressed regret at her inability to abandon teaching because of the financial strife that would ensue. Diary entries after 1840 tend to focus on the activities of Caroline's children rather than those of the scholars in her care. She also continued to use the diary to document religious gatherings she attended and to enumerate her failings on religious and other fronts; among the entries are several diatribes on her inability to quit smoking tobacco.

There are no diary entries for the period May 1841 through December 1844 (perhaps one or more volumes have been lost). In January 1845, the Lillys had two daughters and two sons (one of the twins died in 1844) and Caroline Lilly was running a day school at Scuppleton School House, about a mile from her home. On 22 July 1845, however, Caroline wrote: "... scarcity of water and delicate health induce me to dismiss my school," and the subject of teaching is never mentioned again.

Another son was born 27 October 1845. In August 1846, Caroline's writing leaves off. Entries for 1 through 13 September 1846, written by James Lilly, describe Caroline's death, and end with his lament: "O God help me to manage aright my dear little children, five in number, the oldest not quite seven years of age & the youngest not eleven months old. O what a task!"

The account book covers the period 1838 to 1848. It chiefly lists accounts of students (tuition paid, supplies purchased, etc.). The sparse entries after 1845 relate to domestic accounts.

Both the diary and the account book were, at some point, turned over to the Lilly children to use as scrap paper. There are many pages with entries all but obscured by children's writing and drawing. In addition, Caroline sometimes purposely obscured portions of diary entries that contain derogatory remarks about friends or relatives. Notes generated in an attempt to decipher the crossed out passages (probably by Elizabeth Young Banner, a friend of the Lilly family who was interested in editing the diary for publication in the early 1970s) are filed in the volumes at appropriate places.

Back to Top

Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Diary and Account Book, 1835-1849.

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, December 1989

Encoded by: Nancy Kaiser, December 2005

Back to Top