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Lucy Rebecca Buck diary

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-0159

Scope and Contents

The diary (1861-1865) of Lucy Rebecca Buck which forms this collection is a mimeographed copy of the material used for publishing. The diary was first published in 1940 as Diary of Lucy Rebecca Buck. In 1973, it was published under the title of Sad Earth, Sweet Heaven, and the volume is part of the holdings of the library at Temple University. A comparison between the published version and Ms. 159 showed some variation in the entries. The location of the original manuscript is unknown.

Lucy Rebecca Buck's entries in the diary begin December 25, 1861. The diary is a record of a Southern family in Front Royal, Virginia during the period of the Civil War. Lucy Rebecca Buck was an elder daughter (19 years of age) in the Buck family when she began the diary. The entries describe the daily life at Bel Air, the family farm, with an extended family including parents, a grandmother, aunts, cousins, younger siblings, and visitors. Two brothers, Alvin and Irving, are serving with the Confederate army and their absence is often noted. The diary is unique in that it provides a personal perspective on the rapid advances of the Civil War in Virginia. It also provides an insight into the effects of the war on one family. In January 1861, Buck details the occupation of Front Royal by the Union army under the command of General Nathan Kimball. General Kimball established his headquarters at Bel Air, and his troops were quartered in the meadows surrounding the house. When Southern troops regained command of the area, Buck describes a visit of General Robert E. Lee on July 22, 1863.

Three photographs are included in the diary: one of Lucy Rebecca Buck, one of Bel Air, and one of the brass door knocker from Bel Air. At the back of the diary is a map of Front Royal which gives locations for residences of relatives and neighbors. The last entries are for June, 1865 and relate Lucy Rebecca Buck's sorrow as the outcome of the Civil War becomes known.


  • Creation: 1861-1865


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.

This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

Lucy Rebecca Buck was born in 1842. She was an elder daughter of William Mason Buck (1809-1895) and Elizabeth Ann (Ashby) Buck (1821-1904). William Mason Buck was a merchant and leading citizen in Front Royal, Virginia. The family resided at their farm, Bel Air. Lucy Rebecca Buck's life was centered on the domestic routines of a large household which included parents, a grandmother, siblings, and servants. Her daily life was comprised of reading, sewing, visiting, and tutoring her younger brothers. Numerous friends and relatives were received at Bel Air. As the Civil War escalated, servants left Bel Air, and Buck assumed greater responsibility for the more ordinary tasks of the household. As the war moved closer to Front Royal, Buck and her family were exposed to menacing raids by Northern troops. Her writings indicate that she was challenged to maintain the everyday pattern of family life during a difficult period. Lucy Rebecca Buck was a fervent supporter of the Confederacy and was grieved by the final defeat of the Southern army in 1865. She died in 1918.


0.167 Cubic Feet (1 volume)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of a copy of a diary (1861-1865) of Lucy Rebecca Buck written during the American Civil War. In 1973, the diary was published under the title of Sad Earth, Sweet Heaven. Lucy Rebecca Buck was born in 1842 and resided near Front Royal, Virginia.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The diary was given as a gift to the University by Mr. W. W. Buck in 1956.

Existence and Location of Originals

The original diary is part of the holdings of the library at Temple University.


"Sad Earth, Sweet Heaven; The Diary of Lucy Rebecca Buck during the War Between the States, Front Royal Virginia."--Birmingham, Ala.--Cornerstone [1973]. Published in 1940 under title: "Diary of Lucy Rebecca Buck."

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Joan Grattan in 1989.

Lucy Rebecca Buck diary
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA