Guide to the John Grammar Brodnax Papers, 1830-1929


Collection contains personal, professional and family correspondence of three generations of the Brodnax family, centering around John G. Brodnax. Pre-Civil War letters refer to the sale of slaves; wartime correspondence reflects the fear of the advancing Union forces. Postwar papers include Brodnax's appointment as assistant surgeon general of a North Carolina hospital at Petersburg, Va., overseeing the discharge of disabled Confederate soldiers, and his oath of allegiance to the United States. Also includes letters to his wife during her summer visits with relatives. Many papers concern Mrs. Brodnax's activities in the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy; others relate to attendance of family members at various North Carolina and Virginia schools and colleges. There are also letters from Germany and Europe in the 1870s and 1880s and Mexico in 1910.

Collection Details

Collection Number
John Grammar Brodnax papers
Brodnax, John Grammar
2 Linear Feet, 4 boxes, 1,389 items.
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Materials in English

Collection Overview

This collection contains family correspondence of three generations of the Brodnax family centering chiefly around John G. Brodnax (1829-1907), a Confederate surgeon and practicing physician.

Letters from 1857 to 1867, generally from Lynchburg, Virginia, refer to the sale of slaves and, during the war years, are concerned with the question of fleeing or remaining to face the advancing Federals. Included also are Brodnax's appointment as assistant surgeon general of the North Carolina Hospital at Petersburg, Virginia, and his oath of allegiance to the United States. Other items pertaining to Dr. Brodnax are letters to his wife, beginning in 1881, while she visited her relatives in summer, a speech against railroad taxation in 1879, a group of petitions in 1877 requesting that Brodnax be made superintendent of the North Carolina State Insane Asylum, and an undated article on optical surgery. Included also is genealogical material as well as other materials connected with the activities of Brodnax's wife in the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

A number of letters were written from schools and colleges attended by members of the family, including Salem Female Academy, Salem, North Carolina, and St. Mary's College, Raleigh, North Carolina, during 1912; N. I. Smith's School in Leaksville during 1879 and 1880; Bingham School in Orange County during 1883; Bingham School in Asheville, and Old Point Comfort College, Virginia, after 1909.

Also included in the collectoon are letters from Mrs. Barr, an aunt of Mrs. Brodnax, and her children from 1877 to 1884 while traveling in Europe and studying music in Germany. There are letters from Mary (Brodnax) Glenn and her family while in Mexico, where her husband worked for a railroad company, a mining firm, and as secretary to the American consul general; letters of this period are filled with references to conditions in Mexico, especially concerning political upheavals around 1910. Included also are papers relative to the settlement of the estate of John Brodnax, Jr., after 1909, and a group of sermons delivered by James Kerr Burch, a Presbyterian minister and father-in-law of Dr. John G. Brodnax.

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], John Grammar Brodnax papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Correspondence and papers, 1844-1903
Box 1
Correspondence and papers, 1904-1910 July
Box 2
Correspondence and papers, 1909 August-1919
Box 3
Correspondence and papers, 1920-1929 and undated
Box 4
Printed material, sermons, undated
Box 4
Papers, misc., undated
Box 4

Historical Note

John Grammar Brodnax (1829-1907) was a physician and Confederate surgeon from Greensboro (Guilford Co.), N.C.

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The John Grammar Brodnax Papers were acquired by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in 1942 and 1949.