The Digital John D. Wagg Papers

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Virginia Tech


John D. Wagg was a native of Ashe County, North Carolina and a Southern Methodist circuit minister active immediately before and during the Civil War. His surviving journal, sermons, and received letters allow us to employ him as a window into a particular time, place, and set of conditions. To facilitate this, selections from the Wagg documents have been transcribed, edited, and presented as a Web-based digital edition, the Digital John D. Wagg Papers. This edition is designed to work with many other editions of similarly narrow historical and geographical scope as one historical witness in a network of witnesses.

We must draw from several varieties of documents in the John Wagg collection and from contextualizing historical scholarship to construct a history of Wagg as a product of and participant in his times. Born 8 July 1835, Wagg began keeping a journal in 1854 as he worked toward a degree in medicine at Jefferson, North Carolina, the Wagg family hometown. As a diarist he often explored the place of humanity in a God-made world, a theme that foreshadows his turn from medicine and entry into the itinerant ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in October 1858. Wagg spent the Civil War years preaching throughout western North Carolina and southwest Virginia, generally striving to keep his heavily Confederate-leaning politics from the pulpit. This lifestyle allows the Wagg Papers to bring an alternate point of view to any archive of Civil War documents consisting primarily of the letters of combatants.



digital edition, Civil War, Methodism, nineteenth century, Appalachia