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Almon Underwood journal, 1832-1859 (majority within 1832-1850)

1 volume

Congregationalist preacher Almon Underwood kept this journal from 1832-1850. Underwood wrote about his faith, religious work, and life in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. The volume also contains an autobiography entitled "My Life Work," 2 sermons, and 15 pages of financial records, some of which concern John Underwood's estate.

Congregationalist preacher Almon Underwood kept this journal (630 pages) from June 1832 to 1850. He began writing in Troy, New York, and discussed his religious life, the state of the church, sermons, Sabbath schools, and other religious institutions; one entry contains "rules for sermonizing" (p. 58). Underwood sometimes reported on his travels to towns such as Brunswick and East Nassau, New York. A few entries pertain to current events, such as riots (p. 13) and cholera epidemics (pp. 35, 38). Prompted by harsh reactions to his opposition to slavery, Underwood moved to Newark, New Jersey, in 1844, where he continued to write about religion. The volume also contains an autobiography entitled "My Life Work" (pp. 307-403), 2 sermons, and 15 pages of financial records, some of which concern John Underwood's estate.


David Ogden notebooks, 1812-1848

5 volumes

This collection is made up of five notebooks and diaries that Reverend David Longworth Ogden kept between 1812 and 1848. They concern intellectual debates, political and religious topics, and Ogden's life as a preacher in Whitesboro, New York, and Marlborough, Massachusetts.

This collection is made up of 5 notebooks and diaries that Reverend David Longworth Ogden kept between 1812 and 1848. They concern his intellectual life, such as his time at Yale University and his thoughts on numerous religious, political, and historical subjects, and his experiences in Whitesboro, New York, and Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Volume 1 ("Disputes") contains 87 pages of notes about debates held by members of Yale College's class of 1814 between February 23, 1814, and April 6, 1814. The debates are numbered 25-37. Ogden recorded each question and the often lengthy discussions that followed, sometimes days after the question was initially posed.

Debate topics:
  • Benefits of theaters
  • Benefits of lawyers
  • Whether a monarchy or republican government is more beneficial to literature
  • The possibility of establishing a permanent United States navy
  • The possibility of establishing a national university in the United States
  • Whether persons can expatriate themselves unilaterally
  • Benefits of studying dead languages
  • Benefits of an independent judiciary
  • Appearance of "spectres"
  • Whether temptation lessens the severity of a crime
  • Encouragement of domestic manufactures in the United States
  • Profitability of privateering
  • Legal regulation of interest on monetary loans

Volume 2 (approximately 300 pages, August 2, 1837-April 17, 1841), Volume 3 (approximately 285 pages, August 20, 1841-September 4, 1845), and Volume 4 (approximately 190 pages, July 8, 1848-November 10, 1850) are the second, third, and fifth installments of Ogden's diary, "Thoughts on Men and Things." Ogden composed diary entries and essays on numerous topics, often related to his daily experiences. Volumes 2 and 3 were primarily written at Whitesboro, New York, and Volume 4 was primarily written in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Ogden commented on current political issues, such as abolition and sectionalism; historical topics; and religious subjects, such as Baptists, Presbyterians, Christian life, missionaries, and his ministerial career. The entry dated September 30, 1844, has a copy of Ogden's letter to his congregation in Whitesboro about his desire to resign.

Volume 5 has around 60 pages of undated "Miscellaneous Observations and Extracts from various authors" compiled by David Ogden. These concern numerous religious topics, such as the Gospels and apostles, universal salvation, the divinity of Christ, the Holy Trinity, church personnel, and Church history. Some extracts are attributed to John Milton. One entry is dated at New Haven on September 29, 1812.


George Coles collection, 1821-1851

23 items

The George Coles collection contains 23 items written to the Methodist minister by acquaintances throughout the state of New York. Many of his correspondents discussed religious life in New York between 1821 and 1851.

The George Coles collection contains 23 items written to the Methodist minister by acquaintances throughout the state of New York in the early 1800s. Most of his correspondents offered updates on their daily lives and acquaintances and requested news of his family, and some wished him luck in his clerical career. Others commented on their financial affairs. One correspondent, I. Holdich, wrote about a copyright dispute (February 15, 1840), and another, John Wilson, described the trial of a lawsuit in which he was involved (February 4, 1851Several letters concern the state of the Christian religion and Methodist communities throughout the region, including a pair of 1833 letters about a visiting English minister, George Marsden. Others pertain more directly to religious topics, such as prayer, or contain opinions about the church. For example, Alexander Farrill of Rochester, New York, complained about local Methodist preachers, whom he believed did "not even aim to be Methodist Men" (October 27, 1842), and H. Humphreys shared his thoughts on the area around Hudson, New York, which he believed to be too full of atheists and Quakers to allow for the flourishing of Methodism (January 24, 1849). Additionally, the collection holds one letter written to the editors of the Christian Advocate & Journal, in which Joseph Emes offered a memorial of Eliza Pelton of Middlefield, Massachusetts (April 21, 1838).


James Dickerson letters, 1845-1846

4 items

This collection contains 4 letters that James Stokes Dickerson wrote to his brother, John S. Dickerson, while studying at Madison University (now Colgate University) in Hamilton, New York. He provided details of his life at the college, reminisced about his childhood, and discussed his health and finances.

This collection contains 4 letters that James Stokes Dickerson wrote to his brother, John S. Dickerson, while studying at Madison University (now Colgate University) in Hamilton, New York. He discussed many aspects of his life at school, such as his social activities and the boarding hall where he lived (May 23, 1846), and lamented his poverty and poor financial situation, which prevented him from taking full advantage of vacation periods. Dickerson expressed his joy at a recent religious revival in Hamilton and his hope that John would convert to Christianity (March 28, 1846), and some of his early letters concern his family and his childhood.


Montgomery (N.Y.) Female Evangelical Society record book, 1822-1841

1 volume

The Female Evangelical Society of Montgomery, New York, kept annual meeting minutes in this volume from 1822, the year of its establishment, to 1841. Its members raised funds for missionary societies and educational establishments.

The Female Evangelical Society of Montgomery, New York, kept annual meeting minutes in this volume (39 pp.) from 1822, the year of its establishment, to 1841. The group, whose mission was "extending the knowledge of divine truth," adopted a constitution on May 6, 1822 (pages 1-2), and kept minutes of its annual meetings, held on the first Monday in May, from 1822-1841 (pages 3-39); the minutes from 1835 and 1839 are missing. Each set of minutes has a report from the treasurer, who collected dues and other income, and the names of the society's presidents, treasurers, secretaries, and managers. Every year, the society donated money to religious groups, occasionally to purchase life memberships in various societies for the pastors of Goodwill Church. Three undated newspaper clippings with poetry composed for The Philadelphia Saturday Courier (2 items) and a list of names (1 item) are laid into the book, and the minutes are also followed by a 9-page list of the society's members to 1828.


Nathaniel Stacy papers, 1803-1867

Approximately 462 items (2.5 linear feet)

The Nathaniel Stacy papers include correspondence, documents, sermons, and other materials which relate to the personal and professional life of Mr. Stacy, a Universalist preacher.

The Nathaniel Stacy papers include eight boxes of material relating to every aspect of the personal and professional life of a Universalist preacher operating in the hot bed of the Second Great Awakening, the Burnt-Over District of New York. Boxes 1 through 4 contain correspondence arranged chronologically, 1803-1867, followed by undated correspondence arranged alphabetically by author. Box 5 contains Stacy's preaching log, listing date, place and text taken for sermons given between 1803 and 1864, sometimes with additional notes concerning funerals or other special occasions. Box 6 contains 30 numbered lectures given by Stacy in Ann Arbor in 1837 and 1838. Only the first of these is specifically dated. They are filed in numerical order with text taken noted on the folder. Boxes 7 and 8 contain material arranged topically, filed alphabetically by folder title. The Box-Folder listing provides detail. Included in these boxes are Stacy's diaries, with an unbroken run from 1835 through 1868 and scattered earlier and undated fragments, and 18 folders of sermons arranged by text. The bulk of the collection centers around Stacy and the members of his immediate family, and includes some materials generated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by his grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the Smiths of Corry, Pa. The unidentified photographs are probably of these family members.

The Stacy collection is a rich resource for historians of the Universalist Church. Stacy was part of what might be called a second generation of American Universalist preachers, taught by Hosea Ballou and influenced by other members of the General Convention of Universalists of the New England States and Others. He was among the first to preach the doctrine of universal salvation in New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, and in each state he founded a number of local societies and regional associations. Stacy's papers vividly document the hardships involved in the life of an itinerant preacher of an unpopular doctrine. The financial difficulties inherent in such a career are reflected in his appeals to various Societies for whom he preached to honor their subscriptions or allow him to leave, and in letters from other struggling preachers bemoaning their meager earnings or looking for a better place; they are implicit in all his financial juggling and in schemes for supplementing his income, ranging from the disastrous reprinting of Marie Hubers's The State of Souls Separated From Their Bodies (1:46) to an ill-fated speculation in cheese (3:91). The individual societies for whom Stacy preached are variously documented in 8:35-39. For example, materials concerning the Society in Hamilton are unfortunately sparse, consisting of one letter of appeal from Stacy and a draft report to the Western Association of Universalists. The Society in Columbus is better documented, with a constitution and list of members dated 1834 and a record of church proceedings from 1834 to 1847 as well as a number of Stacy's accounts and subscription lists. The run of undated sermons (8:18-35) is useful for study of Universalist doctrine, as are the dated occasional sermons which may be found in the card catalog under Stacy's name. Running throughout the correspondence is a considerable debate on the subject of universal salvation versus endless misery, and these debates are echoed and extended in Stacy's diaries and Memoirs.

Stacy's ministry in New York occurred during one of the most volatile periods in the state's history. The collection documents the intense interest in religion in general and the willingness to question established doctrine which characterized the Burnt-Over District during this period. Letters such as one dated January 1, 1819 (1:37) offer moving descriptions of the spiritual hunger and emotional turmoil which stirred many, although a counterbalance is offered in such letters as the one dated January 20, 1828 (2:9) which offers a rationalistic discussion of the illogical nature of such biblical imagery as that of armies of angels in heaven. A number of Stacy's correspondents describe protracted religious meetings and local revivals (indexed under Revivals; and Enthusiasm). Universalist ministers generally disapproved of the techniques of the evangelical churches, and Stacy avidly collected stories of people driven to madness, infanticide, and suicide by Calvinism (1:59; 3:78,92). Yet it is also clear, as one fellow minister pointed out to Stacy, that the Universalist Church benefited both by the interest in religion stirred up by the revivals and by the renewed commitment of the enlightened who found such meeting objectionable (3:11) A letter from a niece turned Mormon requests Stacy to "give me the Names of your Anchestors as far back as you can gain eny knowledge and also give me the Names of your Children that are dead that I may have them to be handed down from generation to generation after me" (4:38). In another interesting series of letters, Stacy acts as advocate for an elderly neighbor, a former Shaker who had been expelled from their community, and who was seeking their support (see subject index under Shakers).

In Michigan and Ann Arbor, Stacy experienced the region's transition from territory to state and the hard times following the Panic of 1837. His correspondence from this period, and in particular his diaries, which he began to keep regularly upon his removal to Michigan, offer a window onto life in a frontier town. Although his daily entries are seldom lengthy, the cumulative effect of the diaries is to provide a rich picture of Stacy's social and economic setting and, as a side benefit, of his very appealing personality.

Those interested in Freemasonry and the Antimasonic excitement which played such an important role in determining Stacy's actions will find materials of interest in the collection. Two examples of Antimasonic rhetoric are found in letters dating from 1829, written by a kinswoman who exhorted Stacy to divest himself of the "vile robes" of the "base ferternity," while listing the ghastly crimes committed by Masons (2:15,17). Clippings concerning his Masonic affiliation and two speeches delivered in lodges are included in 8:14. Also of interest are two series of legal materials: one concerning the estate of David Curtis, founder of Columbus, Pa., for which Stacy acted as executor (7:1), and one concerning the legal separation of Stacy's niece, Rhoda Porter Thompson from her second husband (8:41). Each set of documents includes an inventory of the principal's household goods. Stacy's register of marriages (8:13) and his log of sermons, which often gives some detail about those at whose funerals he preached (5), include useful material for genealogists. The subject index includes topics covered in less detail in the papers, such as Stacy's chaplaincy during the second campaign at Sackett's Harbor in the War of 1812, and his involvement in various Temperance groups.


Sewell P. Barker journal, 1843-1845

1 volume

The Sewell P. Barker journal concerns Barker's daily activities in northern New York between January 1843 and September 1845. Barker taught school in several towns near Rochester, New York, and frequently attended religious meetings and church services.

The Sewell P. Barker journal (336 pages) concerns Barker's daily activities in northern New York between January 1, 1843, and September 21, 1845. Barker taught school in several towns near Rochester, New York, and frequently attended religious meetings and church services.

Barker dedicated his journal on January 3, 1843, by copying five "Rules of Life" attributed to Thomas Jefferson. Originally from Sweden, New York, Barker frequently traveled to and taught in towns such as Greece, Riga, Brockport, Churchville, Spencerport, and Chili, New York. He reported the subjects of sermons and other religious gatherings he attended, noted the days on which he taught school, and recorded the names of those with whom he boarded while traveling. Several entries from early 1843 refer to courses he attended at "the Institute" in Brockport, New York. On September 20, 1843, Barker went to Rochester, where he heard a speech by Martin Van Buren (p. 91). From April 1844-June 1844, he lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked for the firm Churchill & Co. He described his travels by stagecoach and steamboat and reflected on his separation from his wife, whom he had married on Thanksgiving Day 1843 (December 14, 1843, p. 124). While in Cincinnati, Barker attended services at several Methodist churches. Some entries include religious poetry. The final page (p. 336) has a note on the drowning death of Daniel Foster of Strattanville, Pennsylvania, on May 11, 1844.