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Erastus C. McAlpine papers

Identifier: MS0346

Scope and Contents

Erastus McAlpine, who lived in the Charlotte area from 1849 to 1921, recorded a diary, written in pencil, in two thin ledger books concerning the events in his daily life. The editions that we have today span from 1915 to 1922, beginning when McAlpine was sixty-six years old. For the most part, he recorded the weather on a daily basis, routine activities of his family and friends, as well as more noteworthy activities in his community. Such news included the deaths of friends and neighbors, as well as more prominent people that he did not know personally (such as Mrs. Stonewall Jackson, who died on March 24, 1915). McAlpine occasionally marked important anniversaries, such as his wedding, Civil War Battles and the assassination of President Lincoln.

He attended lectures of prohibitionists and recorded the ways in which actions in far flung regions of the world were impacting the Charlotte community. During that span of time, such things as the sinking of the Lusitania, hostilities with Mexico (and a military incursion there), and World War I took place—and McAlpine made references to all of these events. When troops from the Charlotte area were sent off to apprehend Poncho Villa, McAlpine mentioned both their departure, as well as their return and mustering out. Later, on April 2, 1917 McAlpine wrote, “Congress met today at noon in extra session and will declare a state of war exists between the U.S. and Germany. The President made a notable speech to Congress and asked for 500,000 soldiers.” Later that month, he mentioned that the citizens of Charlotte had adopted the commission form of government and provided a brief elaboration about it.

Though the diary entries were regular and faithful at the beginning, by November 1917, they had become spotty and irregular. He made no entries for the months of December 1917 or January 1918, and only one for February. From March, he skipped to October 1919 before resuming. Also, there are no entries for 1920; and only one in 1921—for August 2—almost four months after his death. This entry, as well as a few others, were actually recorded by one of McAlpine’s daughters, Marvie.


  • Creation: 1915 - 1922


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Erastus C. McAlpine (1849-1921) lived in the Charlotte area, worked in the Louise Textile Mill and recorded a diary during the latter part of his life, from 1915 to 1921. From the evidence he left behind, we can tell that McAlpine was a devoutly religious man, attending church services and Sunday school faithfully. At first he was an adherent to the Presbyterian faith, but by 1916, he began attending Baptist church services. Though he was not an especially prominent member of his community, McAlpine was by no means at the bottom of it either. In terms of the demographic description of the community in which he lived, he frequently mentioned the different textile mills in the Charlotte area (especially the Louise mill), and that some of his family members and friends worked there. McAlpine came from humble origins. Even so, he was literate, well-informed on issues that affected him, his family and friends; and the regularity of his diary recording seems to imply that he possessed a rather keen intellect. He was active in his community and along with his wife, Jane, had nine or ten children (Emina Gertrude; John W.; Early Roscoe [Ross]; Zora Gertrude; Lillie Marvie; Flossie May; Ada; Cassie P.; and Lester Roy). His diary implies that he enjoyed a healthy and fulfilling family life. In addition, he was a strong supporter of President Woodrow Wilson and the Democratic Party and he was elated when Wilson was re-elected in 1916. McAlpine died on March 21, 1921.


0.3 Linear Feet (1 document box (shared))

Language of Materials



Diaries of a worker in Charlotte’s Louise Cotton Mill. Topics mentioned include textile mills, religion, the weather, activities of family and friends and public events from local to the international.


In addition to this two-volume set of diaries, this collection also includes a scanned copy of a photograph of Erastus and Jane McAlpine (undated).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Mrs. Connie Lowder, April 2004.

Processing Information

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, 2006.

Erastus C. McAlpine papers
Robert A. McInnes
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

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