The Diary of Dolly Lunt Burge, 1848–1879

Edited by Christine Jacobson Carter

A transplanted northerner records her life in the South during peace and war


"Carter's edition is distinguished by a solid introduction that places the diary entries into context and, more important, fills in the gaps in Dolly's story. She has also provided notes that clarify many of the references in the diary, a tribute to careful archival work. Readers will appreciate her efforts to make Dolly's ordinary experiences easily accessible."
Journal of American History

"Nicely edited by Carter, Burge's diary is a fine resource for examining the way in which many elite white women of the South lived. . . . The diary itself, particularly the early years, is evidence of the ritual of the ordinary that made up the bulk of women's lives. It provides students of southern women, the Civil War, and domestic history with a useful and well-documented primary source."
Georgia Historical Quarterly

The Diary of Dolly Lunt Burge is the compelling story of an ordinary woman rising to meet extraordinary challenges in nineteenth-century Georgia. Dolly Lunt Burge's full life was remarkable for the range of roles she filled and the variety of her experiences. That her life coincided with critical transformations in America and that she recorded her experiences within this historical context make her diary all the more noteworthy.

Burge moved from Maine to Georgia with her physician husband in the 1840s. By the time she began her diary at age thirty, Dolly had lost her husband and her only living child to illness. A devout and self-sufficient schoolteacher, she soon married again, to Thomas Burge, a planter and widowed father of four. Upon her second husband's death in 1858, Dolly independently ran the plantation, located in Mansfield. She remained there during the Civil War, witnessing Sherman's famous march through the area. Dolly married a third and final time, in 1866, to Rev. William Parks, a prominent Methodist minister. Through it all, Dolly recorded the changes in her life and her country, describing her surroundings, friends, family, and feelings in thoughtful, moving language.

Originally published in part as A Woman's Wartime Journal: An Account of Sherman's Devastation of a Southern Plantation (1918), this journal was published in its entirety in 1962. This full version, first published in 1997 and based on a new transcription from the original manuscript, incorporates the relevant scholarship of the intervening decades. It also draws on extensive census and probate records, includes additional family photographs, and offers expanded genealogical information on the African Americans from the Burge plantation.

Page count: 316 pp.

Read more about Civil War diaries at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


List price: $30.95

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Christine Jacobson Carter is a visiting lecturer in the department of history at Georgia State University. She is the author of Southern Single Blessedness.