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American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Prudential Committee minutes, 1848-1892

49 items

This collection contains handwritten minutes, many with revisions and excisions, for 49 meetings of the Prudential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions between 1848 and 1892. Written by multiple clerks, the minutes contain information on attendance, votes, resolutions, current and future missions, letters received, appointees, offers of service, reports from the field, salaries, grants, funding distribution, and other subjects.

This collection contains handwritten minutes, many with significant revisions and excisions, for 49 meetings of the Prudential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions between 1848 and 1892. Written by multiple clerks, the minutes contain information on attendance, votes, resolutions, current and future missions, letters received, appointees, offers of service, reports from the field, salaries, grants, and funding distribution. Other subjects referenced include Native American tribes, the Dakotas "in the new frontier," the need for missionaries to have wives, death or health concerns related to members, legal or domestic issues with foreign officials, and mission work in Hawaii.

Among the Mission Stations referenced are:

  • Cape Town
  • Constantinople
  • Smyrna
  • Beirut
  • Oroomiah
  • Ahmednuggur
  • Canton
  • Amoy
  • Madras
  • Fuh Chau
  • Mosul
  • Shanghai
  • Aleppo
  • Peking
  • Guadalajara
  • San Sebastian
  • Prague
  • and others

Augusta and Francis R. Holland papers, 1818-1849 (majority within 1840-1849)

55 items

This collection contains correspondence between Augusta Wolle Holland and Reverend Francis Raymond Holland, regarding missionary life in Jamaica in the 1840s.

The Augusta and Francis R. Holland papers are comprised of 55 letters, which focus on Augusta Wolle Holland's and Reverend Francis Raymond Holland's missionary life in Jamaica in the 1840s.

Series I: These 12 letters, some quite lengthy, are between Francis (2) and family friend Mary Steiner Denke (10). Mary's letters provide a diverse and well-written discussion of politics, plants, scenery, and society from her life in a Moravian settlement in Salem, North Carolina, and from travels to Macon, Georgia, in 1840, and to France in 1845. In addition to thoughtful discussions on the treatment and conditions of slaves in North Carolina and Georgia, she wrote of a May 1 celebration at Mr. Napier’s school in Macon, Georgia; stage travel in Georgia (during which the passengers had a political debate between Whigs and Locos); a Cherokee Indian Mission and the building of schools there; trans-Atlantic travel; Protestant versus Catholic churches and doctrine in France; and travel around the French countryside near Montauban. She was also interested in academic and religious teachings.

Series II: The August and Francis Holland Correspondence with Parents series, which comprises the bulk of the collection, contains 33 lengthy letters written between 1842 to 1849 and passed between the Hollands in Jamaica and their parents in the United States. Though Augusta was the more prolific of the writers, both wrote extensively about life as missionaries, thoroughly detailing their surroundings, food, health, gardening, religious education, and interactions with fellow missionaries and Jamaica’s inhabitants. Augusta’s letters focused on home and garden; she expressed great interest in the local flowers and edible plants. She also taught Sunday school classes, cared for her children, and kept up-to-date on current events in the United States. Francis' letters often mention national American politics, including national appointments and the ongoing Mexican War. Letters from their parents concern the family's well being, local events in the town, and religious activities and viewpoints. The Hollands kept servants while in Jamaica, and discussed them in their letters.

Series III: The Miscellaneous Correspondence series contains 10 items, primarily letters addressed to Holland from his colleagues in the church. A few letters were also written to Augusta and one to her father Jacob Wolle. Another item, sent from Bergen, Norway, to Philadelphia, is dated 1818 and is written in German.

This collection includes three illustrations: the letter from September 3, 1842, contains a sketch of a garden plan in Fairfield, Jamaica; the letter from January 31, 1845, has a small paper seal with a black floral image; and the November 26, 1845, item features a rough illustration of a flower.


Carolyn S. Burns papers, 1943-1968

8 linear feet

Files relating to her work with Italian-American organizations, especially the American committee on Italian Migration, the American-Italian Business and Professional Women's Club, and the Piemontese Ladies Social Club; papers concerning her interest in U. S. immigration law and the problems of displaced persons and refugees; files relating to her Catholic faith and work for Catholic missionary organizations, notably the Friends of Sts. Peter and Paul Missionaries; and files concerning Democratic Party politics and her work during the 1966 senatorial campaign of G. Mennen Williams.

The papers of Carolyn Sinelli Burns portray a woman with many interests and talents. Particularly gifted as an organizer and fund raiser, Carolyn Burns involved herself with the problems of displaced persons and refugees, with Catholic missionary societies, with immigration law reform, and with Democratic Party affairs. Unifying her many diverse interests is a belief in the dignity of all mankind, a belief she received as part of her Catholic faith.

The Burns' collection is divided into six broad categories: ethnic organizations; immigration reference file; United Nations material; religious material; the 1966 G. Mennen Williams senatorial campaign; and a miscellaneous file.


Edward W. Blakeman Papers, 1909-1963

3 linear feet

Counselor in religious education at the University of Michigan. Correspondence and biographical material; official reports; radio scripts; articles on the religious education of college students; scrapbook, 1933-1943; preliminary reports of a survey of college religious life published in 1942; materials relating to a survey of University alumni who entered religious vocations; and materials relating to Japanese-Americans in Ann Arbor, Michigan during World War II; also correspondence of several of Blakeman's predecessors as counselor in religious education; materials on the Student Christian Association, the Spring Parley, 1930-1942, the Michigan School of Religion, the Michigan Pastors' Conference, 1940-1947, the Michigan Child Guidance Institute and the Conference on Religion, 1940-1941; and photographs.

First Presbyterian Church (Birmingham, Mich.) records, 1834-1985

6 microfilms

Registers of membership, baptisms, marriages and deaths, session minutes, trustee minutes, treasurer's records, and records of the women's foreign missionary society, ladies church society, and Presbyterian women's union.

The First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham record group includes session minutes; trustee minutes; registers of membership, births, marriages, and deaths; deacons' minutes; treasurer's records; minutes and ledgers from church women's organization; and miscellaneous other materials.


Gridley family papers, [1798]-1885

0.5 linear feet

The Gridley Family papers contain the letters of a highly educated New York family, who were drawn to evangelical religion and progressive causes in the 1820-1830s. The letters are all personal in nature about daily family life and matters of religion, education, and travel.

The Gridley Family papers (212 items) are comprised of 210 letters, 1 legal document, and one speech. The Gridley family of Clinton, New York, maintained regular correspondence with relatives in Rochester, Aurora, Hamilton, and other towns in western New York. The 210 letters, spanning the years 1808-1885, are entirely personal in nature and document a highly educated New York family, who were drawn to evangelical religion in the 1820-1830s. The letters show a family that held abolitionist, temperance, and other progressive views.

The earliest items are a printed notice from 1798 directed to the inhabitants of Connecticut informing them of an upcoming property tax recently enacted by congress, and a deed transferring land in New York State to Orrin Gridley in [1807?].

Ten letters from 1815-1828 are from Orrin to his wife Fanny, written during his travels to Albany, New York, and Baltimore. He speaks of his business dealings and of religious services he attends. In one letter from April 17, 1820, he described a church service that included missionaries who were about to travel west to convert the Osage Indians "on the Arkensaw." Other letters from this period include nine items from Rachel Kellogg Strong, Fanny's younger sister, and a few from her husband S. Strong, addressed to Orrin. As with most of the letters in the collection, these discuss family, health, business, and religion.

Wayne Gridley's earliest letter is from 1825, written when he was 14 years old. His letters from Andover provide a sense of student life at the Seminary and include discussions of his education (such as learning about missionary work and encounters with "heathen Indians" from North America and the Pacific Islands), as well as his evolving thoughts on religion and social issues. In a letter from 1837, he voices anti-slavery sentiments to his parents. Wayne's letter from November 20, 1836, contains a large lithograph letterhead of Andover Theological Seminary; a letter from July 31, 1849, has a colorful letterhead depicting buildings in Hamburg, Germany.

Through 1849, most of the letters are addressed to Fanny and Orrin from their children, including ten items written to Fanny from her youngest son Charles, when he was in Saratoga Springs, New York, and when he traveled in Europe. In a long letter to Albert G. Gridley, a friend in Paris described his brother Charles' illness and death, and enclosed a carte-de-visite, presumably of Charles.

Letters written by Amos Delos Gridley and his wife Ellen, while on a tour of Georgia and Florida in 1851, include extensive commentary on slavery and the South. For instance, the Gridleys mention that rarely does one see anyone from the South being waited upon by a white person. They also discuss the issue concerning the conversion of slaves to Christianity. In one note, they remark about the steamboat Magnolia exploding on the Ohio River. The latter part of the collection contains many letters sent to George Bristol, Harriet E. Bristol, and Cornelia Bristol of Clinton, New York, from Ellen and Amos Delos Gridley.

The collection contains 48 undated family letters. In the last undated folder is an ink illustration of a house drawn by Amos Delos Gridley. This folder also contains an 18-page speech written upon the death of Adelaide G. Smith, the only daughter of Orrin Gridley.


Hemenway family collection, 1819-1927 (majority within 1828-1881)

7 linear feet

The Hemenway family collection is made up of correspondence, documents, books, and other items related to the family of Asa and Lucia Hunt Hemenway, who worked as Christian missionaries to Siam (Thailand) in the mid-19th century. Most items pertain to family members' lives in the United States after their return in 1850. One group of letters pertains to the ancestors of Maria Reed, who married Lewis Hunt Hemenway.

The Hemenway family collection contains correspondence, documents, books, and other items related to the family of Asa and Lucia Hunt Hemenway, who served as Christian missionaries to Siam (Thailand) in the mid-19th century. Most items pertain to family members' lives in the United States after their return in 1850.

The Correspondence series is divided into two subseries. The Cotton Family Correspondence (26 items, 1819-1848) primarily consists of incoming personal letters to Frances Maria Cotton, whose father, siblings, and friends shared news from Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts. Her brother Henry, a member of the United States Navy, wrote about his travels to Cuba and Haiti on the USS St. Louis in the 1830s. The subseries also includes letters to Frances's father, John Cotton, and her husband, Joseph Reed.

The Hemenway Family Correspondence (116 items, 1857-1899) is comprised of letters between members of the Hemenway family. Lucia Hunt Hemenway wrote to her niece, Isabella Birchard, and her son, Lewis Hunt Hemenway, about her life in Ripton, Vermont, in the late 1850s and early 1860s, and corresponded with her sisters, Charlotte Birchard and Amanda Tottingham. Her letters contain occasional references to the Civil War. Other items include a letter from M. R. Rajoday to Asa Hemenway, written in Thai (March 23, 1860), and a letter from S. B. Munger to Asa Hemenway about Munger's experiences as a missionary in India (February 23, 1867).

The bulk of the subseries is comprised of Lewis Hunt Hemenway's letters to Isabella Birchard, his cousin, written between the 1860s and 1880s. He discussed his studies at Middlebury College, his decision to join the Union Army, and his service with the 12th Vermont Infantry Regiment, Company K, in Virginia in 1862 and 1863. He later wrote about his work at the King's County Lunatic Asylum in Brooklyn, New York; his medical practice in Manchester, Vermont; and his brief stint as a partner in an insurance firm in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His letter of February 16, 1877, includes a illustrated view of Saint Paul's city limits. Lewis and his wife, Maria Reed, corresponded with their children. Their daughter Clara also received letters from her grandfather Asa Hemenway.

The first item in the Diaries and Writings series is a diary that Lucia Hunt Hemenway kept while traveling from Boston, Massachusetts, to Thailand with other missionaries onboard the Arno between July 6, 1839, and September 21, 1839 (approximately 50 pages). She described her fellow passengers, discussed the religious meetings they held while at sea, and anticipated her missionary work in Thailand. A second item by Lucia Hemenway is a religious journal in which she recorded around 22 pages of Biblical quotations for her son Lewis from December 1, 1844-February 1, 1846. The final pages contain a poem entitled "Sunday School" and a list of rhymes that her son had learned.

The journals are followed by 15 speeches and essays by Lewis Hunt Hemenway. He composed Latin-language orations and English-language essays about politics, literature, the Civil War, death, and ancient history.

Maria Reed Hemenway kept a diary (39 pages) from November 20, 1875-[1878], primarily about her children's lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, after September 1877. The final item in the series is a 47-page religious sermon or essay attributed to Asa Hemenway (undated)

The Documents and Financial Records series (7 items) includes Asa Hemenway's graduation certificate from Middlebury College (August 10, 1835); a documents certifying his position as a missionary for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (June 29, 1839, and May 26, 1851); and a United States passport for Asa and Lucia Hemenway (December 26, 1838). Two account books belonged to an unidentified owner and contain records of debts and credits, dated December 1, 1830-December 1, 1831 (volume 1) and December 1, 1831-December 1, 1832 (volume 2).

The Photographs and Silhouettes series (9 items) includes silhouettes of Lucia and Asa Hemenway, photograph portraits of two Thai women, a portrait of an unidentified Thai man, and a portrait of King Mongkut. Two photographs show a tree and buildings near the missionary compound where the Hemenway family lived.

The Books series (22 items) includes volumes in English, Sanskrit, and Thai. Subjects include the history of Thailand, Christianity, and missionary work in southeast Asia.

A volume of Genealogy (approximately 40 pages) contains records pertaining to the births, marriages, and deaths of members of the Hunt family and their descendants, as well as a history of the descendants of Ralph Hemenway of Roxbury, Massachusetts. Manuscript notes and letters are laid into the volume.

The Artifacts and Fabrics series includes baskets, textiles from Thailand, coins, and bottles.


Joseph Patterson notebooks, 1786-1803

3 volumes

The Joseph Patterson notebooks document Patterson's education with the Presbyterian minister Joseph Smith in Washington County, Pennsylvania (1786), Patterson's missionary work with the Shawnee Indians in 1802, and Robert Patterson's diary describing his life as an itinerant preacher (1803).

Joseph Patterson's notebooks (3 volumes) concern Patterson's theological education in Western Pennsylvania and his missionary work with the Shawnee Indians. The first two volumes document the curriculum at Reverend Joseph Smith's Presbyterian log school, in Washington County, Pennsylvania (1786), while the third contains mathematical equations, Patterson's journal while a missionary with the Shawnee Indians in 1802, and a brief diary by his son, Robert Patterson, of his life as an itinerant preacher (1803).

The first Volume (232 pages) contains Patterson's 1786 notes kept while studying with Reverend Joseph Smith to become a Presbyterian minister. The notes, all taken at "Reverend Smith's Schoolhouse," primarily concern theoretical questions on theology.

The volume is divided into the following sections, all with individual page numbering systems:
  1. "Questions of Ontology or Metaphysic" (pages 4-42: March 25, 1786)
  2. "Some Examples of Syllogism" (pages 1-4)
  3. "An Extract from Discourse on Death, by Rev. Mr. Bolton" (pages 1-3)
  4. "A Compend of Rhetoric" on invention, disposition, and elocution: elegance, metaphor, allegory, metonymy, synecdoche, irony, and hyperbole (pages 1-7)
  5. "Questions in Ethics of Moral Philosophy" (pages 1-83: February 24, 1786)
  6. "Questions on Pneumatology," interactions between humans and God, and "Natural Theology" (pages 1-30: August 24, 1786)
  7. "Questions on Divinity" (Pages 1-15 and pages 1-48)

Volume 2 (107 pages) consists of 344 questions and answers on metaphysics, followed by 25 pages of unnumbered definitions, questions, and answers. Among the topics covered are the creation of the universe, the concepts of perfection and imperfection, the philosophies of Descartes and Aristotle, the limits of human's knowledge of God, the nature of divinity, and the condition of the body and the soul. A sample question is: "107 Q. Are our ideas of infinite space merely negative? A. No it implies a positive extension; so great in every direction, as to exhaust all possible measures" (page 87).

Volume 3 (94 pages) contains Latin and mathematical exercises and journals kept by Joseph Patterson and his son Robert. The first two pages consist of Latin exercises. These are followed by 19 pages of 52 "Problems In Equations of the First Degree With one Unknown Quantity." These are math questions with calculations and answers. Next are 9 pages of algebraic calculations, possibly referencing an algebraic text by Charles Davies.

The bulk of the volume contains Patterson's 58-page journal, kept from April 29-July 2, 1802, documenting his missionary work teaching the gospel to the Shawnee Indians in Chillicothe, Ohio. Patterson missionary work was commissioned by the Synod of Virginia and he was accompanied by Mr. Matthews, who taught reading and agriculture, and George Bluejacket, a Christian Indian who served as their interpreter. Typically, Patterson recorded his daily activities and observations, his interactions with Indians and other missionaries, travel details, and the topics of his sermons.

Other notable entries:
  • Pages 9-11: Patterson arrived at a Shawnee village and met their chiefs.
  • Pages 17-19: Patterson described the Indians' contempt for associating with white people "especially ministers," and reported on a drunken party in the council house where men, women, and children danced, sang, and played instruments.
  • Pages 35-37: While visiting Detroit, Patterson prayed and interacted with several black men, women, and children.
  • Page 49: Patterson provides an account of child rearing responsibilities and reports on the Potawatomi tribe, which, allegedly, practiced a "barbarous custom of biting off each others noses."
  • Pages 57-58: In his final entry, Patterson reflected on his failure to teach and convert the Indians, and prayed that they learn to read and find salvation.

The "Journal of a Missionary" (6 pages), kept by Robert Patterson from November 5-27, 1803, is the last item in Volume 3. Robert recounted his trips around rural western Pennsylvania and New York State near Lake Erie, and described preaching to crowds at people's homes. He often recorded distances traveled, sights and people encountered on each trip, sleeping conditions, and the content of his sermons.


Ladies' Gleaning Circle of Newburyport records, 1801-1854 (majority within 1828-1854)

39 items

The Ladies' Gleaning Circle of Newburyport, Mass., was a missionary aid society with close ties to the Massachusetts Missionary Society, one of the earliest and most influential of the nineteenth-century home missionary societies. The bulk of the Ladies' Gleaning Society Records consists of receipts for donations made by the Circle, mostly to the Massachusetts Missionary Society, and letters from grateful missionaries who have received parcels of clothing, books, or other supplies.

The bulk of the Ladies' Gleaning Society Records consists of receipts for donations made by the Circle, mostly to the Massachusetts Missionary Society, and letters from grateful missionaries who have received parcels of clothing, books, or other supplies. The latter letters are especially fascinating because many of the missionaries freely discuss the tribulations and successes of their daily lives and evangelical work. Interestingly, the missionaries seem most appreciative of the books sent them. The collection also includes several lists enumerating the articles sent to missionaries.

Of special interest is a letter of Frederick Ayer (January 1854), which details his work among Indians in the Minnesota Territory, and that of Gordon S. Johnson (14 January 1846), which gives an account of religious conditions and attitudes in Swanton, Ohio. A receipt (15 December 1852) from noted missionary George Henry Atkinson (1819-1889) for a donation to his female seminary in Oregon is also included among the Circle's papers.


Letters, Documents, & Sermons, Blandina Diedrich collection, 1652-1967 (majority within 1726-1886)

1.25 linear feet

The Blandina Diedrich Collection is a selection of manuscript items compiled by her son Duane Norman Diedrich and dedicated to her memory. The content of these letters, sermons, documents, and other materials reflect the life and interests of Blandina Diedrich (1903-1996), most prominently subjects pertinent to Christianity, home, and the family.

The Blandina Diedrich Collection is a selection of manuscript items compiled by her son Duane Norman Diedrich and dedicated to her memory. The manuscripts reflect the life and interests of Blandina Diedrich, most prominently Christianity, home, and the family. Items include sermons from prominent ministers or preachers of different Protestant denominations, documents related to church operations and discipline, letters by prominent and everyday persons respecting their faith and beliefs, correspondence of missionaries, and reflections on religion's role in all manner of human endeavor.

The collection is comprised of over 260 letters, manuscript sermons and hymns, documents, and other items. For a comprehensive inventory and details about each item in the collection, please see the box and folder listing below.