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Mears Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-4294

Scope and Contents

The collection contains one travel diary that Virginia Mears kept while she and her husband were on a trip from Philadelphia to New Orleans in February and March 1861, just before the outbreak of the Civil War. The first portion of their trip was by train through Pittsburgh and Chicago to Cairo, Illinois, where they boarded a boat on the Mississippi River. Mears describes the cities and towns they visited on the Mississippi on their journey to New Orleans, including Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez, and Baton Rouge. The conservative Mears did not enjoy their evening at a New Orleans opera house where she “must have been the only lady in the place with a high necked dress on . . .” While in the South she mentions seeing plantations and enslaved persons, both at work and at rest on Sundays. She suffered from an illness while on the journey,

In addition to the Virginia Mears travel diary, the collection contains family marriage licenses, Mears children education records, family history materials, and funeral records. There are fifty-three photographs, most of which are unidentified cartes des visite (CDV).


  • 1850-1919

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. 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. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections.

For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

Emma Virginia Henry Mears was born March 31, 1832, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Henry Daniel Mears was born on April 29, 1830, also in Philadelphia. They married in 1850 and had five children. She gave birth to their last child, Douglas, on October 21, 1861, and died of bronchitis on January 16, 1862. Baby Douglas died on February 11, 1862. Henry Mears died in 1870. Henry Mears’s exact profession is unknown, but in her travel diary, Virginia Mears mentions his conducting business at least once while on their trip down the Mississippi River. At one point on the trip they sail on a ship named the H D Mears.


1.23 Linear Feet (3 containers)

Language of Materials



Contains diary kept by Virginia Henry Mears while on a journey with her husband from Philadelphia to New Orleans shortly before the Civil War, along with other family materials and photographs.
Guide to the Mears Family Papers
Donnelly Walton
March 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266