Primary materials related to American religious history in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, July, 1992:




Sermons in the Manuscripts Division are to be found among family papers, in individual collections, in scrapbooks and among General Manuscripts (Miscellaneous). Most original material is by Princeton University affiliated clergymen.

The Stewart M. Robinson Collection of Colonial Sermons contains copies of published and unpublished material dating back to 1615. Several collections of family papers, including William Tennent (1740-1777) of New Jersey and South Carolina, and Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933), pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, also provide examples. Sermons dating from the 19th century are to be found among the papers of Princeton graduates such as Charles Woodruff Shields (1825-1904) and Eli Field Cooley (1781-1860), and of John T. Duffield, Princeton math professor from 1849-1898. The scrapbooks of David Laurence Pierson (1865-1938) also contain examples. Sermons from the 20th century are in the papers of Walter Lowrie (1868-1959) and Paul Martin (1862-1956).


Diaries and Journals


There are over 100 collections containing diaries and journals in the Manuscripts Division, many of them with religious content. Some of the most important are to be found in family papers of the Howells of Morris County, N.J. (1715-1958), and Martines and Dyckmans of Westchester and Dutchess Counties, N.Y. (1782-1906). A small number of journals kept by local women are to be found among General Manuscripts (Bound). Many record the chapter and verse of lessons and accompanying sermons from church services attended. The collections also include two journals of English evangelical minister John Newton (1725-1807), author of the words to "Amazing Grace."


Religion at Princeton


The earliest documentation is to be found in holdings in the Manuscripts Division. There are several Gilbert


Tennent sermons in General Manuscripts (Bound), documenting the schism in the Presbyterian Church under the impact of the Great Awakening and the influence of the "Log College" on the founding of the university. Holdings for Presidents Aaron Burr (1716-1757), Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and John Witherspoon (1723-1794) further document these developments. The papers of Samuel Miller (1782-1848) and Charles Hodge (1797-1878), who both taught at the Princeton Theological Seminary and served on the university's board of trustees, document relations between the two institutions. The Princeton faculty, scientists as well as humanists, embraced the notion of theistic evolution during the Darwinist controversy of the late 19th century (1875 and after). The Manuscripts Division has papers of representative figures in this debate such as biologist George Macloskie (1834-1920) and philosopher Charles Woodruff Shields (1823-1904). It also contains the papers of Lucius Hopkins Miller (1876-1949), the university's first English Bible professor, and George F. Thomas (1899- ), hired as the first professor of religious thought in 1940, four years prior to the founding of the Department of Religion. Holdings at Mudd Library and in the Manuscripts Division for presidents James McCosh (1811-1894), Francis Landey Patton (1843-1932), Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) and John Grier Hibben (1861-1933) reflect the changing role of religion in the curriculum. There are also the papers of Walter Lowrie (1868-1959), Episcopal clergyman and principal translator of Soren Kierkegaard, and Paul Martin (1862-1956), who engaged in the fundamentalist controversy of the 1920s. The diaries of Smith Ordway (1880-84) document the role of religion in student life. There are also numerous sermons, lectures, and notes in General Manuscripts (Bound) by Princeton trustees, professors, and their students on the Bible, church history, and theology.

In addition, the University Archives holds records of more than 25 student religious organizations beginning at about the middle of the 19th-century, most notably a large collection of materials on the Philadelphian Society and its successors, the Student-Faculty Association and the Student Christian Association. The Archives also holds the records of the University Chapel (1928- ).


Art and Architecture


Among the Collection of American Architectural Drawings are the drawings of C. Grant La Farge, an American architect, including his plans for the cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington D.C.


Missions and Missionaries


There are copies of illustrations (1857) of early Catholic missions in California in the collection of Sheldon Jackson (1834-1909), a missionary who worked with Indians in the West. The Manuscripts Division also contains journals, notes and letters of 4 Presbyterian missionaries with the Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church. They are Grace Newton (1860-1915), Jonathan Pennington Alward (1812-1841), W. Scott Watson (1862-1944), and William McElwee Miller (1892- ) who went to China, West Africa, Syria and Iran respectively.

The Mudd Library holds the records of United Service to China, an umbrella organization for a number of mission-related societies in China that coordinated Chinese relief efforts during the 1940-1950 period. The University Archives also holds the records of Princeton-in-Asia and its predecessor organizations, the Princeton-Yenching Foundation and Princeton-in-Peking, which began as a missionary effort of the Philadelphia Society.


Mormons and Mormonism


The Mormon Collections at Princeton are among the most comprehensive outside Utah. Manuscript materials range from significant single items (such as a letter of 1846 written in Brigham Young's hand during the trek West) to a collection of modern typescripts of 19th-century manuscripts (created for Herbert Auerbach). Imprints cover the range of Mormon history from 1830 to the present, but the materials in this department are especially rich in ephemeral publications from the first century of Mormonism. The collections are also notable for Utah territorial imprints, 19th-century photographs and other graphic depictions of Utah and the Mormons.


American Indian Religions


The American Indian materials in the Western Americana collections are especially strong and include much on American Indian religions. The archive of the Association of American Indian Affairs documents much activity focused on guaranteeing the freedom of religion among indigenous American tribes. The Papers of Oliver La Farge touch on the same issues. Several manuscript collections document the crusade for the restoration of Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo based on its religious significance (The Papers of Rufus Poole, William Schaab, Corinne Locker and Bobby Kilberg). The Papers of Hildegard Forbes, the Papers of Henry S. Forbes (Special File on Alaska) and the Papers of Alden Stevens all contain material of interest to scholars in this field.


Religion and the First Amendment


The ACLU Archives contain some of the most extensive holdings available on the questions of the free exercise of religion and the separation of church and state. Of note are the Scopes Trial (1925-1927), Jehovah's Witnesses cases (1938-1955), Bible reading and school prayer cases, the Everson case (1947), blue law cases, and scientific creationism cases from the 1980s. Papers of Justice John Marshall Harlan, Roger Baldwin, Arthur Garfield Hays, Edward S. Corwin and Alpheus Mason, the archives of Common Cause and an oral history with William O. Douglas also document the question of the constitutional status of religion in the United States.



For further information, please contact Meg Rich, Reference Librarian / Archivist at Tel: 609-258-3174 or E-Mail: