Williams, Edward Franklin. Papers, 1859-1904.

Collection Information

Edward Franklin Williams papers, 1859-1904.


Williams, Edward F. (Edward Franklin), 1832-1919.


1859-1904; bulk 1870-1903


4 container cases and 1 document case (1.87 linear feet)

Collection ID #:

MS 4981

Conditions Governing Access:

This collection is open for research.

Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the Edward Franklin Williams papers, MS 4981. The Congregational Library and Archive, Boston, MA.


Collection is predominantly in English; one pamphlet of Hebrew Syntax and Greek alphabet.

Processing information:

Collection processed by Mary Guinan using DACS in April 2013.


Edward Franklin Williams (1832-1919) was a Congregational minister, field agent for the Christian Commission during the Civil War, and a prolific writer, lecturer, and speaker. This collection is comprised of materials relating to Edwards throughout his ministry. The material consists predominantly of sermons, notes, lectures, and other writings.

Acquisition Information:

This collection was donated to the Congregational Library in 2011.

Biographical History

Edward Franklin Williams (1832-1919) was born in Uxbridge, Massachusetts on July 22, 1832. He graduated from Yale in 1856 after which he spent three years teaching in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He continued on to the Princeton Theological Seminary where he graduated in 1861. He was licensed by the Presbytery of New Brunswick in 1861. When the Civil War broke out, Williams joined the Christian Commission where he distributed religious literature, medical aid, and various supplies to Union troops. It is probable that he began his ministerial work at this time. The Congregational ministry at Whitinsville, Massachusetts ordained Williams on October 17, 1866. He took charge of the Lookout Mountain Institute in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1866 where he educated young missionaries. After a brief time as a teacher in the Normal Department of Howard University in Washington, D.C., he moved west and began preaching in St. Charles, Illinois in 1869. From 1869-1873, Williams was the pastor of Tabernacle Congregational Church in Chicago Illinois. He then moved on to a pastorate at the South Congregational Church in Chicago, Illinois from 1873-1891. After 1891, Williams was a delegate to the International Congregational Council in London, England. He spent several years abroad and studied at the University of Berlin after which he published "Christian Life in Germany" in 1896. Williams served as the editor of The Congregationalist, Director of the Chicago Missionary Society, and president of the Chicago Tract Society which published and distributed Christian literature. Additionally, Williams lectured at the Chicago Theological Seminary in 1894 and Beloit College in 1903. From 1901-1911, Williams was the pastor of the First Congregational Church of Evanston in Evanston, Illinois where he died on May 26, 1919.


Scope of Collection

This collection consists of the personal papers of Edward F. Williams that were presumably collected by Williams himself. The material focuses primarily on Williams's career as a minister and lecturer. The collection includes sermons, notes, writings, and lectures given at various institutions. Of particular note are his sermons, which are labeled with the various dates, and locations he gave them as well as marked with edits and changes he made to them over the years. His writings include notes and research on a variety of topics ranging from the early years of American history to the study of electricity. It is possible that these notes were for pieces published in The Congregationalist, or other publications during the course of Williams's time devoted to writing. Also included are the lectures he gave at the Chicago Theological Seminary and Beloit College on systemic theology and the history of philosophy. The collection is lacking in materials from Williams's early years and education as well as from the years before his death.



The Edward Franklin Williams personal papers are arranged in five series:

  Series I: Diary
  Series II: Sermons
  Series III: Lectures
  Series IV: Writings and Notes
  Series V: James T Graves


Related Material

By Edward Franklin Williams:


Related to churches he worked at:


Other collections:


Access Terms

Williams, Edward F. (Edward Franklin), 1832-1919.

Congregational churches - United States - History.

Congregational churches - Illinois - Chicago.

Congregational churches - Illinois - Evanston.

Congregational churches - Illinois - Rockford.

Congregational churches - Illinois - Saint Charles.

Tabernacle Congregational Church (Chicago, Ill.)

South Congregational Church (Chicago, Ill.)

Princeton Theological Seminary.

United States Christian Commission.

Sermons, Congregationalist.


Detailed Description and Container List

Series I: Diary

This series contains diary materials written by Edward Franklin Williams. The majority of the diary seems to have been written while Williams was attending Princeton Theological Seminary and living in the area. The materials are arranged according to original order as a number of the loose pages are undated.
Box 1
  Folder 1 Diary 1859-1865

Series II: Sermons

This series contains sermons written by and used by Edward Franklin Williams. As he gave most of his sermons numerous times and in numerous locations, the materials are arranged alphabetically according to the location he first gave them and then chronologically. Williams noted the numerous locations and dates on which he gave each sermon on the cover of most. Please note that the South Church is located on 47th Street. As there is no definite evidence that these are the same church, they are listed separately according to the notations Williams made on the covers.
Box 1
  Folder 1 47th Street 1875
  Folder 2 First Congregational Church of Evanston 1904
  Folder 3 Oakland 1875
  Folder 4 Rockdale Congregational Church 1862
  Folder 5 St. Charles 1868
  Folder 6 South Congregational Church undated
  Folder 7 Tabernacle Congregational Church 1869
  Folder 8 Tabernacle Congregational Church 1870
Box 2
  Folder 1 Tabernacle Congregational Church 1870-1873
  Folder 2 Tabernacle Congregational Church 1873, undated
  Folder 3 Unknown 1875, undated

Series III: Lectures

This series contains lectures written by and given by Edward Franklin Williams. The materials are arranged chronologically. Please note that the lecture in Folder 2 is undated. As it appears to be a final draft of a dated sermon in Folder 1, the two lectures were kept together.
Box 3
  Folder 1 Rockford Female Seminary 1870, 1871
  Folder 2 Rockford Female Seminary undated
Box 4
  Folder 1 Chicago Theological Seminary 1894
  Folder 2 Chicago Theological Seminary 1894
  Folder 3 Beloit College 1903
  Folder 4 Beloit College 1903
  Folder 5 Beloit College 1903

Series IV: Writings/Notes

This series contains a variety of materials written by Edward Franklin Williams as well as others. The materials are arranged alphabetically by subject or topic. He wrote on a number of topics. Some of these writings are published while others the intent is unknown. He also took extensive notes on a range of topics from the history of Holland to a number of sciences. The purpose of these notes is unclear as there is no finished product utilizing these materials. This series also contains one work written by another individual. As it was written by someone at the University of Berlin, it is assumed that it is an acquaintance of Williams's.
Box 5
  Folder 1 Materials relating to Congregational House 1870
  Folder 2 Materials written by Edward F. Williams undated
  Folder 3 Materials written by Edward F. Williams undated
  Folder 4 Notes undated
  Folder 5 Notes undated
  Folder 6 Written by other persons 1915

Series V: James T. Graves

This series contains a scrapbook of Yale memorabilia. Though Williams attended Yale, the dates of the materials are ten years after Williams graduated. There are also a number of materials addressed to "James T. Graves". It was discovered that Graves also became a minister in the Chicago area and could possibly have been an acquaintance of Williams's. For this reason, the materials were included in the collection.
Box 5
  Folder 1 Yale memorabilia 1864-1866


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