Barton, William Eleazar (1861-1930). Papers, 1888-1930, 1952-1953

Collection Information

William Eleazar Barton Papers


Barton, William Eleazar, 1861-1930


1888-1953, bulk: 1888-1930


5 linear feet. 3 cartons and 8 lantern slide boxes.

Collection ID #:


Conditions Governing Access:


Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the William Eleazar Barton papers, MS0016. The Congregational Library and Archive, Boston, MA.



Processing information:

Collection processed 1991.

Revision History:

Revised by April Johnson, 2011.


This collection contains the papers of William Eleazar Barton and family from 1888-1953 (bulk: 1888-1930).  Papers include correspondence; writings such as sermons, lectures, articles and outlines for books; photographs, scrapbooks, and printed materials; and materials created and related to Barton's son and author of, "History of Business", Bruce Barton.

Acquisition Information:

Acquisition information is unknown.

Biographical History

William Eleazar Barton was born in Sublett, IL on 28 June 1861 and died in Brooklyn, NY on 30 December 1930. He graduated from Berea College in 1885, received his MA from Oberlin Graduate School of Theology in 1890 and was ordained in 1885.

He married Esther Treat Bushnell of Johnsonville, Ohio in 1885 and they had 5 children: Bruce Fairchild, Charles William, Helen Elizabeth Mary (later Stilwell), Frederick Bushnell, and Robert Shawmut Barton. Over the years he was a pastor at churches in Robbins and Helenwood, TN (1855-1887), Litchfield, OH (1887-1890), Wellington, OH (1890-1893), Boston, MA Shawmut Church (1893-1899), and Oak Park, IL First Church (1899-1924).

In addition to his role as pastor he also engaged in a variety of Congregational activities including: Chairman of the Commission on Congregational Polity, International Council in 1889, 1908, and 1920; Secretary of the Commission of Nineteen, 1910-1913; Moderator of the National Council of Congregational Churches from 1921-1923; Associate Editor of Bibliotheca Sacra from 1913-1917; Editor of The Advance (Pastor's Department) from 1904-1912; Editor and Chief The Advance from 1917-1930; and last but not least he was a lecturer and author on Ecclesiastical Law, including Pocket Congregational Manual  (1910); Rules of Order for Religious Assemblies (1910); The Law of Congregational Usage (1915) and Congregational Creeds and Covenants (1917), as well as various books (parables) of Safed the Sage and various stories concerning Abraham Lincoln.


Scope of Collection

This collection consists of the papers of Congregational minister, author, and editor William Eleazar Barton and various Barton family members, including his son, writer and editor, Bruce Barton. The papers range from 1888-1953, however the bulk of the papers were created between 1888-1930. The papers consist of personal and professional correspondence of Barton and his family; writing of both Barton and his son Bruce, memorabilia and Barton's lantern slide collection. Of particular interest is the correspondence between Barton and his son Bruce.



The William Eleazar Barton papers are arranged into five series:

Series I. Correspondence, 1890-1930, 1952-1953
  Subseries A. Professional, 1890-1930
  Subseries B. Family, 1908-1914
  Subseries C. William Barton and Bruce Barton, 1909-1952
Series II. Writings of William Eleazar Barton, 1888, 1903-1930
Series III. Printed and Photographic Memorabilia, no date
Series IV. Items of Bruce Barton, 1926-1928
Series V. Barton Lantern Slide Collection, no date


Related Material

The Autobiography of William E. Barton, by William E. Barton, with an introduction by Bruce Barton. (1932).

Thomas Hart Benton papers, 1826.

Most of William Barton's publications are accessible via the online catalog.


Access Terms

Barton, William Eleazar, 1861-1930

Barton, Bruce, 1886-1967

Barton Family

Authors, American - 20th Century

Boston (Mass.) - Church History

Church Polity.

Commission of Nineteen

Congregationalism - History

Congregational Churches - Massachusetts - Boston

Congregational Churches - Illinois - Oak Park

Ecclesiastical Law

International Congregational Council - Boston, 1920

International Congregational Council - Bournemouth, England.

Oak Park (IL) - Church History

Oak Park, Illinois - First Congregational Church

National Council of Congregational Churches - Kansas City

North Brookfield, Mass - Union Congregational Church

The Kansas City Statement of Faith, 1913

World Conference on Faith and Order - Lausanne, 1927


Detailed Description and Container List


Series I. Correspondence, 1890-1930, 1952-1953

This series consists of both professional and personal correspondence of William Barton and family and pertains to their daily lives, Barton's careers as a pastor and all of his additional professional and personal activities. Of particular interest is the correspondence between Barton and his son Bruce who was an editor and write and who wrote the famous book, "The Man Nobody Knows," in 1925.
  Subseries A -- Professional, 1890-1930 -- Arranged by date.
Box 1
  Folder 1 1890-1907  
  Folder 2 1908-1914  
  Folder 3 1917-1930 (includes resignation from Oak Park, IL)
  Subseries B -- Family, 1880-1953 (bulk: 1906-1924) -- Arranged by date.
  Folder 4 1906-1907  
  Folder 5 Undated, ca. 1907-1908  
  Folder 6 1908-1911  
  Folder 7 1921, 1924  
  Folder 8 1953, includes early manuscript Poems from 1880-1883
  Subseries C -- Correspondence between WEB and Bruce Barton, 1909-1952 -- Arranged by date.
  Folder 9 Concerning Billy Sunday 1909, 1920
  Folder 10 Concerning Christianity and politics 1909
  Folder 11 Concerning WEB publications 1926-1930, 1952
return to series list

Series II -- Writings of William E. Barton, 1888, 1903-1930

Writings of William Barton include sermons and lectures, addresses to the National Council and International Congregational Council meetings. There are several folders relating to Barton's participation at the World Conference on Faith and Order in Lausanne, 1927, plus various essays on church union and notes on ecclesiastical law.
  Folders 12-15 Ecclesiastical Law ca. 1912
  Folder 16 "The Council Creed: Its Origin and Purpose"
includes photos of Commission of Nineteen and printing of Kansas City Statement of Faith
no date
  Folder 17 "Newer Congregationalism", National Council Address 1913
  Folder 18 "The Origin of the Council Creed", Advance 1915
  Folder 19 "Three Centuries of Pilgrim History", National Council Address 1917
  Folder 20 "Two Boston Councils Compared", Advance 1920
  Folder 21 "The Unity of the Church", "Congregationalism: Continental and Catholic", National Council Address 1923
  Folder 22 "Report of the Committee on the Report and Proposal of the Committee of the Relations of our National Benevolent Societies to the Churches" no date,
later than 1913
  Folder 23 International Congregational Council, Boston;
Commission on Congregationalism and its Polity
  Folder 24 International Congregational Council, Bournemouth, England 1930
  Folders 25-26 Church Union 1918-1927
  Folder 27 World Conference on Faith and Order Plans. Correspondence 1912-1914
  Folder 28 World Conference on Faith and Order, Lausanne;
  Folder 29 "The World Conference in Retrospect" 1927
   Folder 30 World Conference / Church Union 1927
  Folder 31 World Conference on Faith and Order / Tour of Europe notes and clippings 1927
  Folder 32 Episcopal Church and Lausanne Controversy, Christian Century articles 1929-1930
  Folder 33 World Conference on Faith and Order. Verbatim Reports nos. 1-4, 7  
  Folder 34 "Brief History of Congregationalism", Advance 1917
  Folder 35 "Men and the Christian Centuries: A series of Twenty Studies Arranged for Bible Class" ca. 1930
  Folders 36-37 "History of the Christian Church in Twenty Lessons" no date
  Folders 38-39 "Twenty Christian Centuries: A Series of Twenty Studies Arranged for Bible Class" ca. 1930
  Folder 40 Ministers, ministry, preaching  
Box 2
  Folder 41 Evangelism, evangelists, Billy Sunday ca. 1916
  Folder 42 Conversion, ministry  
  Folders 43-47 Pilgrim / Forefathers Day Addresses. Churches and Congregational Clubs.  
  Folder 48 "Congregationalism as a Factor in the Making of Illinois";
Chicago City Missionary Society
  Folder 49 "300th Anniversary of Signing of Mayflower Compact";
Misc. writings on Paul Revere, Henry Ward Beecher
  Folders 50-52 "New Testament Lectures / How the New Testament Came to be Written" 1915-1916
  Folder 53 Misc. concerning divorce, witchcraft, card playing, mouse-trap quotation  
  Folder 54 Archaeology lectures ca. 1905
  Folder 55 "Sermons, including, “Morality Before Moses";
articles published in "The Jewish Era"
  Folder 56 Christian doctrine sermons ca. 1910-1911
  Folder 57 Sermons on education ca. 1920
  Folder 58 Sermons, including "Why I Believe the Bible";
"A Baccalaureate Sermon to the Human Race";
Christmas Sermon
  Folder 59 "The Hand of God in History: A Series of Lectures on the Contribution of Various Nations to the Gospel of Christ" ca. 1920/1930
  Folder 60 "Lenten Meditations on Confession of Faith", Advance 1914
  Folder 61 Sermons published in Farmers Review 1915-1916
  Folder 62 Sermons published in Farmers Review 1917-1918
  Folder 63 Notes on Original Sin no date
Box 3
  Folder 64 "The Atonement in History and in Scripture" 1888
  Folders 65-67 Parable of the Prodigal Son, sermons and notes ca. 1910
  Folders 68-69 "A Prophet in His Own County", unpublished fiction ca. 1923
  Folders 70-71 Sermons  
  Folder 72 Criticism of Bishop Potter and the Subway Saloon, NYC  
  Folder 73 North Brookfield, MA. Union Congregational Church Concerning Church which became part of Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts 1905
return to series list

Series III -- Memorabilia -- Printed and Photographic, no date

This series includes memorabilia, including published copies of sermons, lectures, scrapbooks, photographs, and biographical materials, arranged by type.
  Folder 74 Abroad with the Mayflower Party 1908
  Folder 75 Announcements for Lectures of WEB  
  Folders 76-77 Published Copies of Addresses  
  Folder 78 Scrapbook of Prominent Individuals  
  Folder 79 Clippings of articles by WEB  
  Folder 80 Biographical materials, obituaries  
  Folder 81 Memorials. Barton Chapel; Barton's Pinnacle  
  Folders 82-83 Photographs, including family  
  Folder 84 Notes from lecture by Prof. Park, with proof texts  
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Series IV -- Items of Bruce Barton, 1926-1928

This series includes items belonging to Bruce Barton, son of William Barton, who was an editor and a writer. Included are miscellaneous clippings, correspondence and typescript copies of some of his work, arranged by type.
  Folder 85 Correspondence, re: "History of Business" typescript 1926-1927
  Folder 86 "History of Business" typescript  
  Folder 87 Clippings  
  Folder 88 Clippings and pamphlets  
  Folder 89 Articles for Good Housekeeping;
"150th Anniversary of Foxboro, Mass.";
Typescript of "Outline of Religion"
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Series V -- Barton Lantern Slides, no date

This series contains lantern slides collected by William Barton.  While some of the collections are labeled, there is a large section of miscellaneous slides. Most of the individual slides are labeled and consist of images and text pertaining to religious artifacts and art and colonial American history and art.
Box 4 Miscellaneous  
Box 5 "Good Samaritans"  
    "Pilgrims Progress"  
Box 6 "Hymns"  
    "Religious Masterpieces"  
Box 7 "Religious Masterpieces"  
    "Christmas Vespers"  
    "Chapel of Ascension"  
Box 8 "Chapel of Ascension"  
    Miscellaneous (Art)  
Box 9 "Colonial"  
Box 10 Miscellaneous  
Box 11 Miscellaneous  
return to series list