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Beecher family papers, 1822-1903 (Bulk: 1822-1865)
2 boxes (5 linear in.)
Collection number: MS 0509 (LD 7093.37 B43)

Abstract:
Beecher Family. Lyman Beecher and children: Catharine E. (1800-1878), William (1802-1889), Edward (1803-1895), Mary (1805-1900), George (1809-1843), Henry Ward (1813-1887), Charles (1815-1900), and Thomas Kinnicut (1824-1900); daughter-in-law, Katherine Edes Beecher (d. 1870), and grandson, Frederick W. Beecher. Papers consist of correspondence, sermons, lecture notes, funeral sermons, a poem and biographical information relating to members of the Beecher family; principally pertaining to family matters, women's education and theological issues; includes letters written to Mary Lyon and Zilpah Grant Banister.

Terms of Access and Use:

Unrestricted.

Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Lyman Beecher was born on October 12, 1775 in New Haven, Connecticut to David Beecher, a blacksmith, and Esther Hawley Lyman. After graduating from Yale University, he was ordained as a minister at the Presbyterian Church in East Hampton, New York. He became the president of Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1832. In 1799 he married Roxana Foote, the daughter of Eli and Roxana (Ward) Foote. They had nine children: Catharine E., William, Edward, Mary, Harriet, George, Harriet Elizabeth, Henry Ward, and Charles. Roxana Beecher died on September 13, 1816. In 1817, Lyman married Harriet Porter and they had four children: Frederick C., Isabella Holmes, Thomas Kinnicut, and James Chaplin. After Harriet Beecher died on July 7, 1835, he married Lydia Beals Jackson (1789-1869) in 1836. He died on July 10, 1863. Catharine Esther Beecher was born on September 6, 1800 in East Hampton, New York. She attended private school as a young girl. After her mother died in 1816, she took over care of the house and her younger siblings. In 1821 she began teaching piano lessons in New London, Connecticut. In 1823 her fiancé Alexander Metcalf Fisher died, and in the same year she began the Hartford Female Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1832 she began the Western Female Institute and sent teachers from the eastern United States to the west to start schools. She wrote many essays and textbooks. She died on May 12, 1878 in Elmira, New York. William Beecher was born on January 15, 1802 in East Hampton, New York. He studied at Andover Academy and became a pastor, working in Newport, Rhode Island and Cincinnati. Marrying in 1832, he had six children with his wife Katharine Edes, who died in 1870. He died in Chicago, Illinois on June 23, 1889. Edward was born on August 27, 1803 in East Hampton, New York. He graduated from Yale College in 1822 and became pastor of the Park Street Church in Boston in 1826. He was a close friend of Elijah P. Lovejoy and helped to organize Illinois' first anti-slavery society. In 1824 he returned to Boston as pastor of the Salem Street Church. In 1829, he married Isabella Jones (1807-1895), and together they had eleven children, including Frederick W. Beecher. In 1855 Edward took charge of the First Congregational Church of Galesburg, Illinois. In 1871 he moved to Brooklyn, New York and died on July 28, 1895 in Brooklyn, New York. Mary Beecher was born in 1805 in East Hampton, New York She assisted her sister Catharine at her school in Hartford and married Thomas Clapp Perkins (1798-1870) in 1827. They had four children. She died on March 14, 1900. George Beecher was born on May 6, 1809 in East Hampton, New York. He graduated from Yale University in 1828 and married Sarah Buckingham on July 13, 1837, in Ohio. They had two children. He died on July 1, 1843 in Clark, Ohio. Henry Ward Beecher was born in Litchfield, Connecticut on June 24, 1813. He attended Amherst College from 1830-1834. In 1837 he began preaching in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. In August of that same year, he married Eunice White Bullard (1812-1897). They had nine children. In 1844 a series of his public addresses was published under the title "Seven lectures to young men." In 1847 he became the pastor of at the Plymouth Church of Brooklyn. In 1863 he went to England and delivered speeches to heighten awareness of the United States Civil War and to heighten Northern support. He died on March 8, 1887 in Brooklyn, New York. Charles Beecher was born on October 7, 1815 in Litchfield, Connecticut. He attended Boston Latin School and Lawrence Academy. In 1834 he graduated from Bowdoin College and studied at Lane Theological Seminary. He married Sarah Leland Coffin (1815-1897) in 1840 and they had six children. In 1844 he became pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. From 1851-1881 he worked at various churches. In 1870 he moved to Florida and was the Superintendent of Public Schools for the state until 1877. He died in Georgetown, Massachusetts on April 21, 1900. Thomas Kinnicut Beecher was born on February 10, 1824 in Litchfield, Connecticut. He graduated from Illinois College in 1843 and became the principal of the North East Grammar School in Philadelphia. He then became principal of a high school in Connecticut. In 1851 he became pastor of the Congregational Church in Williamsburg, New York and continued to work at various churches. He married Olivia Day (1826-1853) in 1851 and Frances Juliana Jones (1826-1905) in 1857. He adopted four children. He died on March 14, 1900, in Elmira, New York.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Beecher Family papers contain material relating to Lyman Beecher; seven of his thirteen children: Catharine E., William, Edward, Mary, Henry Ward, Charles, Thomas Kinnicut; a daughter-in-law, Katherine Edes Beecher; and a grandson, Frederick W. Beecher. Included in the collection are correspondence, sermons, lecture notes, funeral sermons, a poem and biographical information relating to members of the Beecher family. Much of the collection consists of correspondence from 1822-1836 between members of the Beecher family, including Lyman, Catharine, Edward, Mary, William and George. These letters discuss Edward's position at Yale College, his ordination and his future career as a minister, theological issues, Catharine's Hartford Female Seminary, and family matters, such as the Beecher family's move from Litchfield to Hartford, Connecticut. In a letter to George dated April 25, 1826 Catharine writes, "the interest of brothers and sisters in each others employment and concerns should be suffered to decay, by neglecting" letter writing. Catharine's letters to Mary Lyon, dated 1828-1836 and to Zilpah Grant Banister, dated 1844-1859, discuss Catharine's Hartford Female Seminary, plans to advance the cause of women's education, plans to publish textbooks, the need for more teachers, and objections to Lyon's plans to open Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. The sermons in the collection are dated circa 1870 and were written by Edward Beecher. Topics include "Is dancing a proper amusement for Christians?" and "Has more evil than good been accomplished by fictitious writing?" There are also lecture notes taken by Frederick W. Beecher on sermons by his father Edward Beecher and others. The biographical information includes a memorial article for William Beecher; a memorial volume for Henry Ward Beecher; and an address delivered at the funeral of Charles Beecher.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Beecher family papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, MA

History of the Collection


Additional Information
Contact Information
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075

Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370

Email Reference Form: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/forms/areq.htm
URL: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/
Language
English.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
Jan.-Dec. 1826
2 folders

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

The Lyman Beecher material consists of correspondence written to his son Edward Beecher from Jan.-Dec. 1826 while Edward was at Yale College. In his letters he often gives family news, discusses his health and dispenses advice regarding Edward's future career as a minister. The collection also contains a letter from 1829 written to Zilpah Grant Banister arguing that she should unite with his daughter Catharine Beecher in an educational endeavor in Hartford.

1822-1878
5 folders

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

The Catharine E. Beecher material dates from 1822-1878 and consists of correspondence by her and a manuscript sketch of her life by an unknown author. Her correspondence dates from 1822-1860 and mainly consists of letters to her brother Edward Beecher, Mary Lyon, and Zilpah Grant Banister. In her letters to her brother, 1822-1828, she frequently gives advice regarding his career as a minister and his religious views. In a letter dated March 26, 1825 she also expresses her desire that he have "a 'cronie dear' of your sex and not look to ours alone." Her letters to Edward, which also contain letters to her brother George in two instances, illustrate her sentiment, expressed in a letter dated April 25, 1826, that "the interest of brothers and sisters in each others employment and concerns should not be suffered to decay, by neglecting" letter writing. The topic she discusses most often in her letters is the Hartford Female Seminary. In a letter dated June 1, 1826 she discusses the religious state of the school and in a letter dated August 23, 1828 she bemoans the lack of proper textbooks available: "there is not a single book upon earth made as it ought to be and one of the best things in the millennium will be schoolbooks that will not tire the patience of Job to read them." In two letters dated March 8 and April 25, 1826 she mentions the need to find "a young man of colour who is pious to be educated for a physician" for the colony of Liberia. Her letters to Lyon and Banister discuss her writings, the publication of her textbooks, objections to Lyon's plan to open Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, the need for more teachers, and her ideas on women's education. Of note is the letter written to Banister circa 1849 from the Northampton Water Cure run by David Ruggles urging Banister to come see Dr. Ruggles. A broadside describing the establishment forms the first page of this letter. The Catharine E. Beecher material also includes photocopies of a letter written to Mary Lyon in 1843 and of a manuscript stating the need for more teachers. The originals of these documents can be found in the Henry Barnard Collection, Fales Library, New York University.

1827, 1889
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

The William Beecher material consists of a letter dated July 8, 1827 to his brother Edward Beecher in which he discusses his future plans, and a copy of a memorial article from June 1889 which provides some biographical information about him.

1839
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

The material relating to Katherine Edes Beecher, wife of William Beecher, consists of a letter written in 1839 to Zilpah Grant Banister requesting her help in finding a suitable head for an unnamed seminary.

1826-1836, circa 1870
3 folders

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

The Edward Beecher material consists of correspondence, 1826-1836, and sermons, circa 1870. The bulk of the letters are written to his father, Lyman Beecher, but also include a letter written to his maternal grandmother, Roxana Foote. In these letters he discusses his job as a tutor at Yale College, family news, various professional opportunities or job offers received from churches and colleges, and his physical, mental and spiritual health. In a letter dated December 4, 1826 he requests that his father preach the sermon at his upcoming ordination service. The collection also includes handwritten copies of four of his sermons and fragments of two others, circa 1870. Topics of the sermons include "Is dancing a proper amusement for Christians?", "Has more evil than good been accomplished by fictitious writing?", "Suffering not necessarily an evil," and women's suffrage. The material also includes an undated letter written by Anna Jones to her sister, Edward's wife Isabella Jones Beecher.

1826
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

The Mary Beecher material consists of two letters written to her brother Edward Beecher dated February and April 5, 1826. Her first letter discusses her struggles with the Christian life, which she says "tho' a life of trial and conflict is also one of great happiness." She also discusses the family's upcoming move from Litchfield, Connecticut, a place she describes with great fondness. Her second letter is written from Hartford, Connecticut and discusses her sister Catharine's school there, the Hartford Female Seminary. She describes the school's new building (rent was $65) and also discusses her spiritual life.

1887-1903
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

The Henry Ward Beecher material consists of three memorial items dating from 1887-1903. The collection includes a copy of the program for the Henry Ward Beecher Memorial dated March 8, 1903. It also includes a copy of "The Boyhood of Henry Ward Beecher," printed on July 19, 1887 at the request of friends. The volume contains descriptions of Beecher's formative years and includes some of Beecher's own recollections. The collection also includes a memorial volume compiled by the Plymouth Church in 1887 which documents the death and funeral of Henry Ward Beecher. This volume contains a formal photograph.

1894, 1900
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

The Charles Beecher material consists of a letter written to Charles' nephew Frederick W. Beecher (son of his brother Edward Beecher) by Charles and his wife Sarah Coffin Beecher dated November 20, 1894. In it she writes of fond family memories and intimates some change in Frederick's parents Edward and Isabella Beecher (perhaps sickness - both died in 1895). Charles writes of the book Frederick sent him, which he is reading "with interest". The collection also includes a pamphlet dated May 1, 1900 containing the address given at Charles Beecher's funeral service.

1845, 1865
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

Scope and content:

The Thomas Kinnicut Beecher material consists of correspondence written to his brother Edward Beecher and Beecher's son Frederick W. Beecher. In a letter dated November 22, 1845 Thomas writes to Edward for his father Lyman, who was recovering from an illness. The letter discusses a recent article written by Edward, entitled "Organic Sins," and Lyman's misgivings about that phrase. His letter to his nephew Frederick is dated May 20, 1865. In it he consoles his nephew on a recent loss (probably the death of his child from diphtheria), and mentions that "Grandpa [Lyman] Beecher buried his Freddie," referring to the 1820 death of Lyman's son Frederick. His letter also mentions his grief at the death of President Abraham Lincoln.

1858-1859, 1865
1 folder

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted

The Frederick W. Beecher material consists of a letter dated June 9, 1865, written by Richard Henry Stoddard sympathizing with Frederick on the recent loss of his young son. The letter is accompanied by a copy of a poem written by Stoddard's wife, Elizabeth Drew Barrett Stoddard, published in "Harper's Magazine," written after the death of their infant son circa 1861. The material also contains notes taken on sermons and lectures by his father, Edward Beecher, and others, dated 1858-1859.

Contents List
Lyman Beecher material,
Jan.-Dec. 1826
2 folders

Correspondence: 1826-1829


Box 1: folder 1
Photocopies: 1826-1829


Box 1: folder 2
Catharine E. Beecher material,
1822-1878
5 folders

Correspondence: 1822-1836


Box 1: folder 3
Correspondence: 1844-1859


Box 1: folder 4
Photocopies: 1822-1836


Box 1: folder 5
Photocopies: 1844-1859


Box 1: folder 6
Extracts, Manuscript Sketch: 1844-1878


Box 1: folder 7
William Beecher material,
1827, 1889
1 folder

Correspondence: 1827; Memorial Article: 1889


Box 2: folder 1
Katherine Edes Beecher material,
1839
1 folder

Correspondence: 1839


Box 2: folder 2
Edward Beecher material,
1826-1836, circa 1870
3 folders

Correspondence: 1826-1836


Box 2: folder 3
Photocopies: 1826-1836


Box 2: folder 4
Sermons: circa 1870


Box 2: folder 5
Mary Beecher material,
1826
1 folder

Correspondence: 1826


Box 2: folder 6
Henry Ward Beecher material,
1887-1903
1 folder

Biographical Information: 1887-1903


Box 2: folder 7
Charles Beecher material,
1894, 1900
1 folder

Correspondence: 1894; Funeral Address


Box 2: folder 8
Thomas Kinnicut Beecher material,
1845, 1865
1 folder

Correspondence: 1845, 1865


Box 2: folder 9
Frederick W. Beecher material,
1858-1859, 1865
1 folder

Lecture notes: 1858-1859; Correspondence: 1865


Box 2: folder 10

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Beecher, Catharine Esther, 1800-1878.
  • Beecher, Charles, 1815-1900.
  • Beecher, Edward, 1803-1895.
  • Beecher, Frederick W.
  • Beecher, George, 1809-1943.
  • Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887.
  • Beecher, Katherine Edes, d. 1870.
  • Beecher, Lyman, 1775-1863.
  • Beecher, Mary, 1805-1900.
  • Beecher, Thomas Kinnicut, 1824-1900.
  • Beecher, William, 1802-1889.
  • Lyon, Mary, 1797-1849.
  • Ruggles, David, 1810-1849.
  • Books and reading.
  • Christianity - 19th century - Philosophy.
  • Clergy - United States - Correspondence.
  • College students - Connecticut.
  • Dance.
  • Education - United States - History - Sources
  • Educators - United States - Correspondence.
  • Family - United States - History - Sources.
  • Hartford Female Seminary (Hartford, Conn.) - History - Sources.
  • Health - United States - History - Sources.
  • Lane Theological Seminary - History - Sources.
  • Religion - Study and teaching (Higher) - Massachusetts.
  • Suffrage - United States.
  • Teachers.
  • Women - Education - United States - History - Sources.
  • Yale University - History - Sources.

Contributors
  • Banister, Zilpah P. Grant (Zilpah Polly Grant), 1794-1874.
  • Beecher, Catharine Esther, 1800-1878.
  • Beecher, Charles, 1815-1900.
  • Beecher, Edward, 1803-1895.
  • Beecher, Katherine Edes, d.1870.
  • Beecher, Lyman, 1775-1863.
  • Beecher, Mary, 1805-1900.
  • Beecher, Sarah Coffin, 1815-1897.
  • Beecher, Thomas Kinnicut, 1825-1900.
  • Beecher, William, 1802-1900.
  • Stoddard, Henry Richard.

Genre terms
  • Funeral sermons.
  • Letters.
  • Sermons, American


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