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G. W. F. Harper Family Diary transcriptions

Identifier: AC-168

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of photocopies of typewritten transcriptions of the diaries of Major G. W. F. Harper, his wife Ella Rankin Harper and her sister Emma L. Rankin. The transcriptions were completed by George Harper Bernhardt, whose brother, John Bernhardt, donated the original diaries to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. In addition to the transcriptions, the collection includes a key to abbreviations used in the diaries. Although Harper kept diaries from 1841 to 1921, the majority of the diaries date from 1881 to 1921. There are references in his diaries to his Confederate Army service and his wife's diaries date to the Civil War era.


  • 1846-1921


The materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

No Interlibrary loan.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for use in the Dougherty Reading Room. An appointment for research is recommended. The Dougherty Reading Room is located on the 4th floor of Belk Library in Special Collections.

Biographical note

George Washington Finley Harper (1834-1921) was born at Fairfield Plantation in Wilkes County, North Carolina to James and Caroline Finley Harper. After graduating from Davidson College, he entered the general merchandise business with his father, a founder of the town of Lenoir. In 1859, Harper married Ella A. Rankin (1836-1909), daughter of Reverend Jessie and Ann Delight Rankin and sister of Emma L. Rankin (1838-1908). They had two children, George Finley Harper and Ellen D. Harper Bernhardt. In 1862, Harper enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private in Company H, 58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. He was promoted to first lieutenant in July 1862, to captain the following September, and to major in the fall of 1863. After the war, Harper rejoined his father in business in the firm of H. Harper & Son. He was also involved in railroad expansion, becoming chair of the Chester and Lenoir Narrow Gauge Railroad Company in 1884. Harper founded the Bank of Lenoir in 1893 and served as its president until his death in 1921.

Additional biographical information is available in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography.


2 Linear Feet (4 boxes)


The G. W. F. Harper Family Diary Transcriptions are photocopies of typewritten transcriptions of the diaries of Major G. W. F. Harper of Caldwell County, North Carolina, his wife Ella Rankin Harper and her sister Emma Rankin. Harper kept diaries from 1841 to 1921 and writes about his Confederate Army service, however, the majority of the diaries date from 1881 to 1921.


This collection is arranged by diarist, then chronologically by year.

Acquisitions Information

It is unclear how the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection acquired these photocopies of diary transcriptions, however they were accessioned in or around 1994 as MHD. This collection was opened to the public on 2 October 2002.

Location of Originals

The original diaries and transcriptions are located in the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill's Southern Historical Collection in the G. W. F. Harper Papers, 1838-1921 (Collection Number 00313).

General note

Collection was formerly titled the John Bernhardt Papers and was renamed in 2011 to better reflect the contents of the materials.

Processing Information

Originally processed by Deborah Bell, circa 1994; Reprocessed by Kathryn Staley, October 2002; Encoded by Kathryn Staley, January 2005; Reprocessed with duplicate copies added by Kelly Grimm, 2011; Finding aid revised by Cynthia Harbeson, 2011.
AC.168: G. W. F. Harper Family Diary Transcriptions, 1846-1921
Finding aid originally created by Kathryn Staley, October 2002. Revised and updated by Cynthia Harbeson, October 2011.
October 2002
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Appalachian State University Special Collections Repository

218 College Street
Boone U.S.A. - North Carolina 28608-2026 United States
8282624975 (Fax)