McDonald, Cornelia Peake

Life Span
to
Full name
Cornelia Peake McDonald
Place of Birth
Birth Date Certainty
Exact
Death Date Certainty
Exact
Gender
Female
Race
White
Sectional choice
South
Origins
Slave State
No. of Spouses
1
No. of Children
9
Family
Humphrey Peake (father), Anne Linton Lane (mother), Angus W. McDonald III (husband), Harry McDonald (son)
Occupation
Writer or Artist
Relation to Slavery
Slaveholder

Cornelia Peake McDonald, Civil War Diary (Gwin, 2003)

Scholarship
For McDonald, history is what happens “inside the house.” Her story is, in fact, about the trauma that occurs when the domestic sphere, traditionally a safe place, is disrupted and destroyed by the forces of history – when women and children are put out of their houses and have nowhere to go. At the same time, McDonald’s ingenuity and tenacity in the face of that trauma reflect women’s capacity to recreate for themselves and their children safe places, albeit temporary ones, in the face of danger and despair. Reading McDonald’s writings about her own experience in the Civil War therefore leads us to consider the gendered nature of autobiography and the ways in which women’s life-writings can transform our understanding of history.
Cornelia Peake McDonald, A Woman's Civil War: A Diary, with Reminiscences of the War, from March 1862, ed. Minrose C. Gwin (New York: Gramercy Books, 2003), 3-4.

Cornelia Peake McDonald, Early Life (Gwin, 2003)

Scholarship
Because her father, a medical doctor, had cosigned loans for friends who later defaulted on payments, the family moved several times in Cornelia’s early years, first to a plantation in Prince William County, Virginia, and later to Front Royal in the Shenandoah Valley. In 1835, on a long, arduous journey, her father moved the family and their slaves to Palmyra, Missouri, where many of the slaves and some family members died of consumption…. Early in life Cornelia was called upon to nurse her sick mother, who, unaccustomed to a pioneer life, was frequently ill. Young Cornelia began to read extensively during this period. While her mother slept, she would sit behind the bed curtains and read from Bryon’s works and other books from her father’s library.
Cornelia Peake McDonald, A Woman's Civil War: A Diary, with Reminiscences of the War, from March 1862, ed. Minrose C. Gwin (New York: Gramercy Books, 2003), 5.
Chicago Style Entry Link
McDonald, Cornelia Peake. A Woman's Civil War: A Diary, with Reminiscences of the War, from March 1862. Edited by Minrose C. Gwin. New York: Gramercy Books, 2003.
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How to Cite This Page: "McDonald, Cornelia Peake ," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/34651.