Collection History

Rev. Gideon Hawley was a traveling missionary affiliated with the Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians, under the supervision of Jonathan Edwards. He accepted a position from the Society to establish a mission among the Six Nations on the Susquehanna (near Windsor, NY) in 1754; he served as minister and interpreter there until 1756 when the French and Indian War compelled him to join the army as a chaplain. His service was brief due to illness, and Hawley was then stationed by the SPGI at a Native American plantation in Mashpee, Massachusetts in 1758, where he settled and stayed until his death in 1807.

Rev. Hawley did not intend this manuscript to serve as a public record, nor did he assume it would ever see publication. It is primarily a journal, which lists the labors of himself and other missionaries in the area, drafts accounts of the relations between the Indians and the neighboring whites, provides a few pages of vital statistics, attempts a lexicon of Indian words and place-names, and produces numerous complaints about his loss of financial support (previously supplied by English missionary societies) during the Revolutionary War period.

For more detail about the collection, see the archival finding guide.

Digital Materials

Volume 4, ca. 1781-1806


The fourth volume is also primarily correspondence. The topics range from the fates of indentured Mashpee Indians to friends' legal matters to his own personal finances. Rev. Hawley also recorded local births, deaths, and marriages at the Mashpee plantation for much of the latter half of the 18th century.