Series 2: Personal Papers and Documents

This series contains personal papers and documents created by individuals and ecclesiastical councils that are not part of a larger church records collection. The collections in this series document early Congregational thought and attitude towards topics such as theology, preaching, and mission work. They speak to a larger cultural context and to a more personal and private context, offering additional perspectives on the time period addressed by New England's Hidden Histories.

In this series you will find the personal diaries of ministers and missionaries, as well as examples of manuscript sermons and sermon notes. As the collection grows, personal correspondence and the minutes of ecclesiastical councils will be added.

Click on the name of the collection to go to its collection page on our digital archive and explore the digitized materials.

 

The Collections

Avery, David. The Case of the Pastor in Wrentham (1794)

Rev. David Avery was born in Franklin, Connecticut, in 1746. He graduated from Yale in 1769, studied theology at Dartmouth College, and was ordained as a missionary to the Native Americans in 1771. In 1783 he became the minister of the First Church in Wrentham, Massachusetts. Due to theological differences over church discipline, he was dismissed in 1794. He died in 1817. This collection contains a manuscript volume prepared by Rev. David Avery about the strife that had grown between Avery and his congregation in Wrentham.

Barnard, Edward. Sermons (1739-1774)

Rev. Edward Barnard (1720-1774) was the son of Rev. John Barnard of Andover. A classical scholar, he graduated at Harvard in 1736 and was ordained in 1743, ministering to the First Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Rev. Barnard's personal theology tended toward the doctrine known as Arminianism, which emphasized the importance of free will in personal salvation. This caused controversy within the Haverhill church, and a portion of the congregation consequently ceded and became Baptist. This collection contains manuscript sermons written by Rev. Barnard.

Bidwell, Adonijah. Sermon Booklets (circa 1754-1781)

Adonijah Bidwell (1716-1784) was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1716 to Thomas and Prudence Bidwell. He attended Yale, graduating in 1740. In 1750, he settled in Tyringham (now Monterey), Massachusetts, as the first pastor. Adonijah Bidwell died in 1784. The collection contains sermon notes and scriptural references for sermons preached by Bidwell at Tyringham.

Cleaveland, John. Papers (1741-1810)

Rev. John Cleaveland (1722-1799) was an early leader in the "Separatist" Christian movement. He served as minister at a Separatist church in Ipswich, also known as the Fourth Church in Ipswich, at which he was ordained in 1747. In 1774, both the Second and Fourth Churches in Ipswich voted to reunite as the Second Parish Church in Ipswich. Cleaveland also served as a military chaplain between 1758 and 1759 at Ticonderoga and Louisburg during the French and Indian War. This collection includes both church records and personal records. Among the person records are extensive runs of correspondence with both clergy and family. The collection also contains the diary of Cleaveland's first wife, Mary Dodge.

Cleaveland, John. Sermons (1752-1799)

Rev. John Cleaveland (1722-1799) was an early leader in the "Separatist" Christian movement. He served as minister at a Separatist church in Ipswich, also known as the Fourth Church in Ipswich, at which he was ordained in 1747. In 1774 both the Second and Fourth Churches in Ipswich voted to reunite as the Second Parish Church in Ipswich. Cleaveland also served as a military chaplain in 1758-59 at Ticonderoga and Louisburg during the French and Indian War. This collection includes manuscript sermons by Rev. Cleaveland.

Collins, Zaccheus. Diary (1726-1769)

The diary of Zaccheus Collins details a 43-year period of daily life in Lynn, Massachusetts. The diary contains details about agricultural concerns, notations on attendance at religious meetings, visits from his friends, and observations about the weather.

Cotton Family. Sermons (1682-1782)

Three generations of Cottons were Puritan ministers and leaders in early New England theological and political affairs. John Cotton (1585-1652) was born and educated in England. In 1633, he came to New England, was ordained at the First Church of Boston, and remained in Boston until his death. His son, John Cotton (1640-1699), graduated from Harvard in 1657 and was missionary to the Indians at Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, 1664-1667. He then settled in Plymouth where he was ordained and served as minister until 1697. Josiah Cotton (1680-1756) was the son of John Cotton (1640-1699) and graduated from Harvard in 1698. He was a school teacher in Marblehead and Plymouth, and Indian missionary, 1707-1744. Two volumes, dating to 1710 and 1711, contain five sermons by Josiah Cotton for delivery to local Native populations. The sermons are written in both English and Algonquian languages. The third volume includes a partial list of sermons attributed to the Cotton family, possibly penned by John Cotton Sr.

Cotton, Ward. Correspondence (1811-1814)

A flurry of correspondence, kept and recorded by Ward Cotton, was incited by the suspension of Boylston parishioner Betsy Flagg over her vocal criticism of the church's minister, Rev. Ward Cotton. Flagg sought support from Rev. Samuel Austin, minister of the nearby Church of Christ in Worcester. Rev. Austin began a correspondence with Rev. Cotton, which quickly escalated into mutual accusations. Ultimately an ecclesiastical council was formed which ruled in favor of Rev. Cotton.

Curwen, George. Papers (1699-1737)

Rev. George Curwen was born in 1683 in Salem, Massachusetts. He attended Harvard College. While working toward his second degree, he also became a guest preacher at various churches. Upon completion of his second degree he married Mehitable Parkman. Rev. Nicholas Noyes accepted Curwen as an assistant at the First Church in Salem and he was ordained in 1714. Curwen died in 1717, followed soon after by his wife. This collection contains the personal papers of George Curwen and includes correspondence, financial and estate records, and two notebooks of manuscript sermons.

Davenport, John. Sermons (1649-1652)

John Davenport was born on April 9, 1597, to a wealthy family in England. After becoming an associate of John Preston, Davenport joined the Puritan movement. In 1637, he acquired a patent for a colony in Massachusetts and in 1638 he co-founded the colony of New Haven. In 1668, Davenport became the minister at the First Church in Boston. He died on March 15, 1670. This collection contains a single bound volume of manuscript sermons.

Edwards, Jonathan. Letter to Esther Burr (1757)

Rev. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, on October 5, 1703 to Rev. Timothy and Esther Edwards. In 1727, he married Sarah Pierpont and together the couple raised 10 children. Their daughter Esther was born February 13, 1732. Esther married Rev. Aaron Burr Sr. (1715/6-1757), a Presbyterian pastor in Newark, New Jersey in 1752. This collection contains a single letter written by Rev. Jonathan Edwards that was sent from Stockbridge, Massachusetts, on November 20, 1757 to his daughter, Esther Burr.

Eells, Nathaniel. Sermon (1740)

Nathaniel Eells was the son of Rev. Nathaniel Eells, Sr. of Scituate, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard in 1728. He was ordained as the pastor of the East Congregational Church in Stonington, Connecticut, in 1733. He continued to serve as pastor at the East Congregational Church until his death in 1786. This collection contains a sermon written and preached by Rev. Eells.

Fisk, Samuel. Correspondence (1731-1755)

Samuel Fisk, the son of Rev. Moses Fisk of Braintree, graduated from Harvard in 1708. He was ordained as minister of the First Church in Salem in 1718. A dispute began between Fisk and the congregation over his refusal to deliver a traditional annual lecture and his tampering with the church meeting records. Fisk received ecclesiastical censure and was dismissed in 1735. After Fisk's dismissal, he led a group of parishioners in building a new meetinghouse, also named First Church. The name of the church was compelled to change to the Third Church of Christ in Salem in 1762. Rev. Fisk resigned from his pastorate on July 30, 1745, but continued to reside in Salem until he died in 1770. This collection contains numerous items of correspondence to and from Rev. Fisk. These relate almost entirely to the dispute between the minister and his congregation, specifically the breakaway group referred to as the "aggrieved brethren".

Green, Joseph. Diary (1700-1715)

Rev. Joseph Green graduated from Harvard in 1695 and was ordained in 1698. He became minister of the Salem Village church, replacing the controversial Rev. Samuel Parris who had left in 1696. Rev. Green also presided over the congregation’s votes to rescind charges of witchcraft against those accused. The collection contains a diary kept by Rev. Green between 1700 and 1715.

Green, Joshua. Memoranda (1768-1775)

Joshua Green (1731-1806) was a Boston merchant, the son of Joseph and Anna Pierce Green. In the notebooks within his collection Green summarizes local sermons he attended. It's not definite, but most likely Green regularly attended the Brattle Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts.

Hawley, Gideon. Missionary Journal and Letterbook (1754-1807)

Rev. Gideon Hawley was born at Stratfield (Bridgeport), Connecticut. Hawley graduated from Yale College in 1749 and was licensed to preach by the Fairfield East Association May in 1750. Hawley accepted a position from the Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians to establish a mission among the Six Nations on the Susquehanna in 1754. In 1757, Hawley was sent on a temporary mission to the Mashpee and following a formal request by the Mashpee Hawley took up a permanent post among them on April 8, 1758. Hawley died in Mashpee in 1807. This collection contains four consecutive volumes spanning which include correspondence, journal entries, accounts, lists of births and deaths, a table of Indian statistics, and a map by Hawley of Onohoguage villages in New York.

Homes, William. Diary (1715-1747)

Rev. William Homes was a Scotch-Irishman who first traveled to New England from Ulster in 1686. He taught school in Chilmark, Massachusetts, for three years, returning temporarily to Ireland in 1689, where he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in Strabane. In 1714, he came again to America and was invited to be the first minister of the Congregational Church in Chilmark, where he served until his death in 1746. This collection contains Rev. Homes’ diary which covers the entirety of his tenure as minister of the Chilmark Congregational Church.

Hooker, John. Sermons (1753-1777)

Rev. John Hooker (1728-1777) was born in Farmington, Connecticut, and graduated from Yale in 1751. He was ordained as the minister of the First Congregational Church of Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1753. He married Sarah Worthington in 1755, and continued as minister at Northampton until he died of smallpox in 1777. The materials in this collection consist of Rev. Hooker's sermons and sermon fragments spanning his entire career at Northampton.

Hopkins, Samuel. Correspondence (1766-1803)

Rev. Samuel Hopkins (1721-1803) was a Congregational minister in the New England area. Hopkins preached in Sheffield (now Great Barrington), Massachusetts, from 1743 until 1769 and then preached at the First Congregational Church in Newport, Rhode Island, from 1770 until his death in 1803. He is best known for his theological work that formed part of the theology known as New Divinity, or Hopkinsianism. This collection contains three letters written by Samuel Hopkins; two thank a family friend for their hospitality while Hopkins travelled and the third includes some of Hopkins’ theological arguments.

Hovey, Ivory. Papers (1731-1803)

Rev. Ivory Hovey (1714-1803) was born in Topsfield, Massachusetts, the son of Captain Ivory Hovey and Anne Pingree. He graduated from Harvard College in 1735. He was ordained as the minister at the Second (West) Parish of Rochester, later known as the First Congregational Church of Mattapoisett, in 1740. He served there for nearly three decades, but left in 1769 after theological disputes over his ministry formed. He then became minister at the Second Church of Plymouth at Manomet in 1770, and remained there until his death. He married Olive Jordan in 1739. The items in this collection include correspondence, sermons, ecclesiastical council decisions, church records, vital records, and other papers relating to family affairs and Rev. Hovey's congregations.

Josselyn, Thomas. Diary (1743-1775)

Thomas Josselyn (1702-1782) of Hanover and Hingham, Massachusetts was a deacon of the First Church of Hingham and the proprietor of a forge. This collection contains a diary kept by Josselyn between 1743 and 1775.

Lake, John. Memoranda (1687-1688)

This collection contains a single notebook kept by John Lake of Boston, Massachusetts. Lake’s notes include records of sermons which were delivered by various ministers in Boston.

Leavitt, Dudley. Sermons (1740-1751)

Rev. Dudley Leavitt was the minister of the Tabernacle Church in Salem, Massachusetts, from 1745 until 1762. He succeeded the controversial minister Rev. Samuel Fisk who established the church. The collection consists of two volumes of Rev. Leavitt's sermons, delivered between 1740 and 1751.

Marsh, John. Sermons (1774-1776)

John Marsh was born on November 2, 1742 in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard in 1761. On January 12, 1774, John Marsh was ordained as the minister of the First Church of Christ in Wethersfield, Connecticut. He remained the minister there until his death on September 13, 1821. This collection contains two sermons written and preached by Rev. Marsh.

Mather Family. Papers (1648-1651)

This collection comprises papers of the Mather family, beginning with the family patriarch, Rev. Richard Mather (1596-1669), the first to emigrate from England to North America. Materials include both records created by members of the family, as well as associated materials formerly in their keeping. They include an early draft of the "Cambridge Platform" and a defense of the platform's tenants entitled “An Answere of the Elders to certayne doubts” (circa 1651), both authored by the Rev. Richard Mather. There are also writings by his contemporaries, including Ralph Partridge's (1579-1658) "Modell of Church Discipline" and an essay by John Wilson (1588-1667).

Mather, Cotton. Diary and Personal Documents (1716)

Rev. Cotton Mather (1663-1728), was born on February 12, 1663 in the city of Boston. He graduated from Harvard in 1678 and was ordained May 13, 1684 at the Second Church in Boston, also known as "Old North" Church, where he served with his father, Increase (1639-1723). He was a prolific author, publishing some 280 distinct items. He endorsed inoculation as a means of preventing smallpox. He was involved in the Salem witchcraft trials as both a prosecutor and an advisor. This collection includes a portion of Rev. Mather's diary entries from 1716, an essay directed at his son Samuel with advice on attending college, and a listing of marriages which Rev. Mather performed, dated 1717.

Morse, Ebenezer. Account book (1718-1859)

The Second Parish Church of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, was established in 1742, and Rev. Ebenezer Morse was ordained as its first pastor in 1743. This parish remained a part of Shrewsbury until 1786, when it was established as the town of Boylston and its church became the First Congregational Church of Boylston, which is still active today. Rev. Morse was dismissed from the Second Parish in 1775 because he refused to halt public prayers for the British government. This collection contains records of church admissions, baptisms, and marriages.

Parkman, Ebenezer. Papers (1717-1782)

Rev. Ebenezer Parkman (1703-1782) of Boston and Westborough, Massachusetts, is most historically notable for the detailed diaries which he kept throughout his life. He graduated from Harvard in 1721 and received a master’s degree in 1724, going on to become the first minister of the Congregational Church in Westborough. Rev. Parkman continued his ministry in Westborough until his death in 1782. He was a moderate New Light, associating with Rev. George Whitefield during the famous evangelist's first missionary journey to New England. Rev. Parkman was initially skeptical of American independence and characterized the Stamp Act riots of 1765 as "a melancholy occurrence." After the Battle of Lexington and Concord he signed a manifesto "for peace sake and to avoid a rupture among us." However, he increasingly warmed to the idea of independence, especially when his eldest son, Ebenezer Jr., joined the Continental Army. This collection contains both church records and personal papers and includes sermons, financial records, and a medical notebook kept by Rev. Parkman.

Parkman family. Papers (1712-1779)

Rev. Ebenezer Parkman, son of William Parkman, a shipwright, was born in Boston on September 5, 1703. Soon after graduating from Harvard College in 1721, he became the first settled minister in the town of Westborough, in central Massachusetts, serving the community from the day of his ordination, October 28, 1724, until his death on December 9, 1782. Parkman married Mary Champney (1699-1735/6), daughter of Samuel and Hannah Champney of Cambridge, in 1724, and Hannah Breck (1717-1801), daughter of the Rev. Robert Breck of Marlborough, in 1737. Through his own marriages, those of his numerous brothers and sisters in the area, and those of his sixteen children who were married, Parkman's family relations extended throughout much of New England. The collection consists primarily of the diaries, sermons, essays, ecclesiastical papers, and correspondence of the Rev. Parkman.

Parsons, Jonathan. Sermons (1735-1770)

Rev. Jonathan Parsons (1705-1776) graduated from Yale in 1729, and was the minister at the First Church in Lyme, Connecticut, from 1729/30 to 1745. He took up ministry at the Presbyterian Church of Newburyport, Massachusetts, from January 1745/6 until the end of his life. The volumes in this collection consist of notes for sermons delivered by Rev. Parsons. These include a variety of handwritten notes for sermons preached in his home parish of Newbury and a published print copy of a sermon originally delivered at the funeral of Rev. Whitefield, who died suddenly "of a fit of asthma" in Newburyport in 1770.

Parsons, Moses. Sermon (1746)

Rev. Moses Parsons of Gloucester graduated from Harvard in 1736. He was ordained in 1744 as the minister of the Byfield Parish Church in what is now Newbury, Massachusetts. He served as the minister there until his death in 1783. This collection contains Rev. Parsons's handwritten notes for a sermon on Galatians 6:3, dated July 27, 1746.

Perley, Samuel. Papers (1744-1800)

Samuel Perley (1742-1831) was a Presbyterian and Congregational minister, representative of the General Court, Justice of the Peace, doctor, and school teacher. Rev. Perley settled in Gray, Maine, on September 8, 1784. During his pastorate at Gray, the church changed from Congregational to Presbyterian, and he was dismissed by the town in 1791. This collection contains 4 volumes of Rev. Perley's papers. These consist of personal, ministerial, and legal records, marriage, birth, and death records, depositions charging Rev. Perley with adultery, and an account book reflecting fees charged for preaching, teaching, legal, and medical services.

Phillips, Samuel. Papers (1670-1746)

Rev. Samuel Phillips (1625-1696) was born in England and accompanied his father, Rev. George Phillips of Watertown, to America at the age of five. He graduated from Harvard in 1650 and was ordained the following year as the minister of the Congregational Church of Rowley. He served as the minister there until his death in 1696. This collection contains Rev. Phillips’ manuscript sermons, sermon notes, church membership records, and the proceedings of a 1723 ecclesiastical council.

Pomeroy, Benjamin. Relations (1735-1739)

Rev. Benjamin Pomeroy (1704-1784), originally of Suffield, Connecticut, graduated from Yale in 1733. He was ordained in 1735 and installed at the First Congregational Church in Hebron, Connecticut. He became an admirer of the revivalist preacher George Whitefield. He encouraged revivalist movements without seeking permission from other pastors as mandated by state law, and was consequently deprived of his salary for 7 years. He married Abigail Sheelock of Windham with whom he had 7 children. He died in 1784. This collection contains relations of faith, disciplinary records, and other church records from Rev. Pomeroy’s time as minister of the First Congregational Church in Hebron.

Putnam, Aaron. Papers (1754-1765)

Rev. Aaron Putnam (1733-1813) graduated from Harvard in 1752 and was settled as the minister in Pomfret, Connecticut, in 1756, where he also served as an educator to the young townsmen. Putnam was forced to resign as minister in 1802 when he lost his ability to speak. He turned to publishing sermons and essays afterwards. This collection contains a commonplace book kept by Rev. Putnam, a small undated booklet of biblical notations, and a confession of faith.

Pynchon, John. Notes on sermons by George Moxon (1640)
TRANSCRIPTION AVAILABLE

Rev. George Moxon (1602-1687) was born in Yorkshire, England. He came to New England in 1637, settled first in Dorchester, and then went to Springfield where he became the new settlement's pastor. John Pynchon (1625?-1703), the son of Springfield founder, William Pynchon, was fourteen or fifteen when he recorded Moxon's sermons in 1640. This collection contains notes on Rev. Moxon's sermons, recorded by John Pynchon in "short writing".

Rand, William. Sermons (1746-1778)

Rev. William Rand was the minister at Sunderland, Massachusetts, from 1722 until 1745, when he was dismissed due to his opposition to the Great Awakening. He subsequently replaced the Rev. Thaddeus McCarty as minister at Kingston, Massachusetts, when the latter was dismissed for inviting the evangelist George Whitefield to preach there. Rev. Rand remained at Kingston from 1745 until his death in 1779. The volumes in this collection contain Rev. Rand's sermons, preached after his move to Kingston.

Richardson, John. Sermon notes (1692-1693)

Rev. John Richardson (1647-1696) graduated Harvard in 1666 and subsequently became a tutor, or Resident Fellow, of the College. In 1675, he was ordained as minister of the First Church of Newbury, Massachusetts, where he remained for twenty-one years. He married Mary Pierson of Woburn, with whom he had five children. He preached the Artillery Election Sermon at Boston in 1675 and 1681. This collection contains Rev. Richardson’s notes on sermons which he wrote and preached.

Rogers, Daniel. Sermons (1740-1799)

Rev. Daniel Rogers (1707-1785) was ordained as an evangelist at York, Maine, in 1742. He was installed as the pastor of the Second Parish Church in Exeter, New Hampshire (established 1744) on August 31, 1748. He continued in office there until he died in 1785. He was converted to evangelism by the preaching of Rev. George Whitefield and was one of the pall bearers at Rev. Whitefield's funeral in 1770. This collection contains Rev. Rogers's sermons, encompassing his time at both York and Exeter, dating from 1741 to 1799.

Rogers, John. Papers (1693-1714)

Rev. John Rogers (1666-1745) was born in 1666 in Ipswich, Massachusetts, to John Rogers (1630-1684), President of Harvard University. Rev. Rogers graduated from Harvard in 1684. From 1686 until 1689 Rogers assisted his uncle, William Hubbard, the minister at Ipswich. Ordained in October of 1692, Rev. Rogers took over for his sickly uncle in 1702 as minister. Rogers remained the pastor in Ipswich until his death from paralysis in 1745. The collection contains the personal papers of Rev. Rogers and includes manuscript sermons, a marriage proposal, and his final will.

Stockman, John. Testimony (early 1700s)

In the early 1700s, Caleb Moody (b. 1666), the son of Sargent Caleb Moody Sr. of Newbury, Mass. was assaulted on the King's Highway by the soldier John Stockman (1681-1744), the son of Mr. John Stockman Sr. of Salisbury, Mass. The Moodys and Stockmans were both prominent families in the region. This collection contains testimony given by John Stockman for his assault on Caleb Moody.

Stone, Samuel. Whole Body of Divinity (1656)
TRANSCRIPTION AVAILABLE

Samuel Stone (1602-1663) was born in Hertford, England. A graduate of Emmanuel College (B.A. 1624, M.A. 1627), he served as curate in Stisted and then lecturer in Towcester. Arriving in Boston along with John Cotton and Thomas Hooker, Stone was made “Teacher” to the Newtown (soon to become Cambridge) congregation, in which Hooker served as “Pastor”, on October 11, 1633. In 1636, that congregation relocated to a settlement along the Connecticut River which became known as Hartford, named after Stone’s birthplace. Probably not completed until after Hooker’s death, and never published, Stone’s Whole Body of Divinity was the first comprehensive theology produced in the American colonies. Arranged as a catechism with questions and answers, it proceeds through all the major topics of Christian theology.

Storer, Ebenezer. Diary (1749-1764)

Ebenezer Storer (1729-1807) graduated from Harvard with a bachelor's degree in 1747 and a master’s in 1750, along with an ad eundem degree from Yale in the same year. He married Elizabeth Green in 1751, was a merchant in Boston, and became the Treasurer of Harvard College in 1777. Storer was a member and deacon of the Church in Brattle Square, Cambridge, as well as an early member of the Society for Propagating the Gospel in North America, the American Academy of Arts and Science, and several other organizations. He kept a sporadic diary, found in this collection, consisting of long form entries detailing deaths in his family and providing meditations on death and other spiritual matters.

Tilden, Mary. Disciplinary case records (1732-1733)

Mary Tilden (née Fowler) and her husband Stephen Tilden were members of the First Church in Lebanon, Connecticut. Their marriage was evidently not a happy one, and by 1732 Mary had separated herself along with her child and was staying with relatives in the area. Her perceived neglect of her marriage vows generated a public enquiry by the church and its minister Rev. Solomon Williams. This collection contains records and testimony related to Mary Tilden’s disciplinary case.

Turell, Ebenezer. Account of a witchcraft case (1728)

Rev. Ebenezer Turell (1701-1778) graduated from Harvard in 1721 and was subsequently ordained as the minister of the First Parish in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1724. He remained in Medford until his death. This collection contains Rev. Turell’s handwritten account and commentary on a witchcraft case at Littleton in 1720.

Unknown Author. Boston Massacre sermon (1770)

The author of the manuscript sermon in this collection is unknown and there is no provenance information associated with the collection. The instigating incident behind the writing of the sermon was the Boston Massacre, also known as the Incident on King Street, which occurred on March 5, 1770. The event was widely reported on and further increased tensions between the Thirteen Colonies and Great Britain. This collection consists of a single manuscript sermon written and includes a historical account of the Massachusetts Bay Colony as well as a discussion on the cause of colonial strife.

Unknown Author. Legacy of a Dying Father (1694)

This document, dated 1694, was written by an unknown author and inserted into a repurposed manuscript volume. Addressed to his surviving sons, the manuscript consists of religious, moral, and general life advice.

Unknown Author. Memoranda book (1723)

This volume consists of handwritten notes on sermons by an unidentified individual in Boston, Massachusetts during 1723. Their notes include the names of the preachers, date of delivery, the sermon's verse text, and a detailed summary of each sermon. The sermons were likely delivered at the Old South Church, due to the predominance of those preached by resident ministers Rev. Joseph Sewall and Rev. Thomas Prince.

Unknown Author. Sermon notes (1679-1681)

This collection comprises notes on sermons preached at the First Church of Cambridge between 1679 and 1681, by an unidentified author. Detailed notes on the sermons are recorded in a combination of English text and shorthand. The sermons were delivered by notable ministers of the time, including resident Cambridge First ministers Rev. Urian Oakes and Rev. Nathaniel Gookin, as well as a variety of guest preachers.

Unknown Authors. Sermon notes (1660-1694)

This manuscript volume, penned by at least one anonymous author, contains notes on sermons preached mainly at the First Church in Cambridge between 1660 and 1694. Most of the initial sermons were delivered by the Church’s resident minister Rev. Nathaniel Gookin, whose untimely illness and death in the summer of 1692 necessitated supply preaching by numerous others. These included some of the most well-known ministers in New England at the time, such as Reverends Samuel Angier, Samuel Moody, Benjamin Wadsworth, Samuel Willard, William Brattle, and Increase Mather.

Wadsworth, Benjamin. Sermons (1707-1712)

Rev. Benjamin Wadsworth (1670–1737) graduated from Harvard in 1690 and began to preach at the First Church in Boston in 1693. He was ordained as minister of the First Church on September 8, 1696. He remained pastor of the First Church until 1725, when he was elected to be the eighth president of Harvard College. He died in 1737 at the age of 67. During his life he was known for his unusual powers of recollection, often delivering sermons by memory. A large number of his sermons and treatises were published, including one of the first explicitly anti-abortion tracts in North America. This collection contains essay-style sermons on chapters from the Old Testament.

Weld, Thomas. Commonplace book (1723)

Rev. Thomas Weld was born in November, 1702, in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1723. Weld first became a teacher at the Roxbury Latin School before moving to Southborough to preach. In 1735 he was invited to preach at the newly gathered Congregational Church in Upton, Massachusetts, and he was ordained as the first minister of the church on January 4, 1738. In 1744, Weld was called to preach in Middleboro, Massachusetts. During Rev. Weld’s ministry, the congregation shrank significantly and he was dismissed. In the following years Ward likely became an itinerant preacher before joining the British Army as a chaplain during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). He died during the war, probably between 1756 and 1758. This collection contains a commonplace book, kept by Rev. Weld, that was created during his time at Harvard University.

White, John. Sermons (1702-1760)

Rev. John White (1677-1760) originally of Watertown, Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard in 1698. He was ordained in 1703 and served as the minister to the First Church of Gloucester, Massachusetts, until his death. This collection contains Rev. White’s notes on sermons preached during his time at Gloucester.

Wigglesworth Family. Papers (1649-1794)

Rev. Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705) was born in Lincolnshire, England, and moved with his family to New Haven, Connecticut, in 1638. He graduated from Harvard College in 1651 and subsequently worked there as a tutor for several years. He became a minister at Malden in 1654, was ordained in 1656, and remained in the parish until his death. Michael's son Edward Wigglesworth, Sr. (ca. 1693-1765) also became a Congregational minister. Edward Wigglesworth, Jr. (1732-1794) was a merchant in Boston. Both Edwards were professors of divinity at Harvard College. This collection contains personal papers and legal documents kept by Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, Rev. Edward Wigglesworth, Sr., and Edward Wigglesworth, Jr.

Williams, Stephen. Diary (1716-1782)

Rev. Stephen Williams grew up in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and was captured by French and Indigenous allies during their raid on the town in 1704. He was liberated after almost two years in captivity, and both he and his father, Rev. John Williams, wrote accounts of their experiences. Stephen Williams went on to graduate from Yale College in 1713 and subsequently ministered to the Congregational Church of Longmeadow, Massachusetts. This collection contains a diary, kept by Rev. Williams, which focuses heavily on ecclesiastical matters.