Get Connected

New archival collection - Ozora Stearns Davis

We here at the Congregational Library are happy to announce the availability of yet another new archival collection (we seem to be on quite a roll)! This particular collection came to us from Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) and contains materials by and about Ozora Stearns Davis (1866-1931).

Ozora Stearns Davis was born in White River Junction, Vermont, in July of 1866. As a child he helped his father, a baggage handler for the railroad, by sweeping out baggage rooms, delivering telegrams, and running errands all while also attending school at St. Johnsbury Academy. []He graduated from Dartmouth College and went on to attend Hartford Theological Seminary before receiving a fellowship that allowed him to attend school in Germany where he received both his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Leipzig in 1896.

Davis then returned to the United States where he was ordained in Springfield, Vermont. He went on to serve several churches in New England before becoming president of CTS in 1909. He served as President until 1929 when his health began to fail and doctors informed him that he only had six months to live. Sobered by the news but in no way fearing death, Davis resigned his position as President and took up the task of writing the biography of his close friend journalist Victor Freemont Lawson (1850-1925), the manuscript of which is included in this collection.

In March of 1931 while on a trip to California with his wife Grace, Davis became very ill. On the advice of a doctor he stopped treatment for his diabetes as it seemed he was reacting negatively to the insulin and, deciding he would rather die in Chicago than in California, boarded a train homeward. On March 15th while still onboard the train, he took a turn for the worse and passed away just outside of Kansas City, Missouri.

The Davis collection is an interesting one in that it is what archivist's term an "intentional collection" — that is, the materials in it were intentionally gathered into one place by a person or institution. In this case, they were gathered into one place by Chicago Theological Seminary. It contains materials written and owned by Davis as well as material concerning him that he didn't necessarily own himself. The two things of note in this collection are the manuscripts and scholarship produced by Davis (oftentimes in his hand) and the extensive correspondence between him and CTS's business manager, Robert Cashman.

We invite you to take a look at the finding guide for this collection, to contact an archivist with any questions you may have regarding this collection, and to come in and take a look at it, if you are so inclined.