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Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Henry Ward Beecher collection

Call Number



1819-1980, inclusive
; 1847-1887, bulk


Beecher, Henry Ward
King, Horatio C. (Horatio Collins)
Ellinwood, T. J. (Truman Jeremiah)
Plymouth Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
Church of the Pilgrims (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)


48.5 Cubic Feet
in 75 boxes: 32 manuscript boxes, 38 flat boxes, and 6 small boxes

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.


The Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Henry Ward Beecher collection traces the career of the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, the well known 19th century preacher, and the history of Plymouth Congregational Church, of which Beecher was the first pastor. Plymouth Church was a major institution in 19th century Brooklyn, first gaining recognition on national and international levels as Beecher's pulpit. Beecher was well known for his oratorical ability and for his vocal opposition to slavery and support of the Northern cause during the Civil War. He also spoke out on subjects ranging from women's suffrage and evolution to organized labor and temperance. Beecher was a popular figure despite controversy that surrounded his activities, including a charge of adultery that resulted in a widely reported trial in 1875. The collection relates principally to Beecher's pastorate at Plymouth Church from 1847 until his death in 1887. Other materials, ranging through 1980, concern the church's other pastors and the history of Plymouth Church itself, which consolidated with the Church of the Pilgrims in 1934. The papers provide insight into the church congregation's various activities, illustrate the history of Beecher's influence on his congregation and on 19th century congregationalism, and shed light on both the public and private life of a major American personality of the 19th century.

Biographical / Historical

Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims Chronology

1844 Church of the Pilgrims established
1847 Plymouth Church established; Henry Ward Beecher installed as pastor
1849 Fire destroys Plymouth Church (January)
1850 New church completed (June)
1872 Henry Ward Beecher's Silver Anniversary at Plymouth Church (October)
1887 Death of Beecher; Beecher's funeral at Plymouth Church (March)
1888 Lyman Abbott installed as pastor
1898 Lyman Abbott's resignation announced (Fall)
1899 Newell Dwight Hillis installed as pastor
1902 Henry Ward Beecher Memorial plan instituted
1914 Arbuckle Institute dedicated
1918 Arbuckle Institute renamed Plymouth Institute (December)
1920 Plymouth Church damaged by fire (November)
1922 Death of Lyman Abbott (October 22)
1924 Newell Dwight Hillis disabled by cerebral hemorrhage; resignation announced
1927 James Stanley Durkee installed at Plymouth Church (January 27)
1927 Rose Ward Hunt returns to Plymouth Church on occasion of 80th anniversary of Beecher's first sermon at Plymouth Church (May 15)
1929 Death of Newell Dwight Hillis (February 25)
1934 Consolidation of Plymouth Church and Church of the Pilgrims (Spring)
1939 Plymouth Institute renamed Plymouth Church House (May)
1940 J. Stanley Durkee's resignation announced (October)
1940 Plymouth Rock Celebration (December 21-23)
1942 L. Wendell Fifield installed at Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims (May 22)
1951 Death of J. Stanley Durkee (September)
1954 L. Wendell Fifield's resignation announced (October)
1955 L. Wendell Fifield leaves Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims (July)
1961 Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims designated Historic Landmark
1964 Death of L. Wendell Fifield (July)

Beecher Chronology

1813 Born, Litchfield, Connecticut; youngest child of Lyman and Roxana Beecher (June 24)
1830 Entered Amherst College
1834 Graduated Amherst College
1834 Began theological studies at Lane Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio (July)
1837 Graduated Lane Seminary. Began first pastorate at First Presbyterian Church, Lawrenceberg, Indiana
1837 Married Eunice White Bullard of Massachusetts
1838 First daughter, Harriet Eliza, born (May 16)
1838 Ordained at First Presbyterian Church, Lawrenceberg, Indiana (November 9)
1839 Installed at Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana (July 31)
1841 Son, Henry Barton Beecher, born
1847 Resigned from Indianapolis pastorate (August 15)
1847 Accepted call to Plymouth Church, Brooklyn (August 19)
1847 Installed at Plymouth Church (November 11)
1848 First mock enslaved persons auction at the Broadway Tabernacle, New York City (December 7)
1849 Plymouth Church destroyed by fire (January 13)
1850 Departed on first trip to Europe (July 9)
1850 New church completed according to Beecher's design (January)
1856 Sarah, an enslaved girl, sold for her freedom at Plymouth Church (June 1)
1856 Leave of absence taken from Plymouth to campaign for the election of John C. Fremont as President
1858 Great Revival at Plymouth Church
1859 Farm purchased in Peekskill, New York
1860 Enslaved girl Rose Ward Hunt auctioned for freedom (February)
1861 Appointed editor of the New York Independent (December 19; until 1864)
1863 Death of Lyman Beecher in Brooklyn (January 10)
1863 Departed on second trip to Europe; delivered speeches in England in support of the Northern cause (June)
1864 Campaigned for Abraham Lincoln
1865 Delivered address at raising of flag over Fort Sumter at close ofCivil War (April 14)
1865 Fall lecture tour on Reconstruction issues
1866 Published Cleveland Letters on Reconstruction (September)
1867 Novel Norwood published
1869 Elected president of the newly formed American Woman Suffrage Association
1870 Became editor of the Christian Union (October, until 1881)
1872 Week long ''Silver Wedding'' celebration at Plymouth for Beecher's twenty-fifth anniversary as pastor (October)
1875 Beecher-Tilton trial in Brooklyn (January-June)
1876 Summer/Fall Lecture tour
1877 Rutherford B. Hayes elected; Beecher's former defense lawyer,William Maxwell Evarts, appointed United States' Secretary of State
1878 Appointed Chaplain of 13th New York Regiment
1878 Completed construction of summer home, "Boscobel," Peekskill, N.Y.
1880 Cooper Institute speech for James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur presidential ticket (October)
1882 Resigned membership in New York Congregational MinisterialAssociation over position in support of the theory of evolution (October)
1883 Summer lecture tour on topic of evolution and religion
1883 Plymouth Church celebration of Beecher's 70th birthday (June)
1884 Speech in support of Grover Cleveland at the Brooklyn Rink (October 22)
1885 Delivered eulogy on death of Ulysses S. Grant (October 22)
1886 Sailed on the "Etruria" with Mrs. Beecher and agent, J.B. Pond, on last trip to Britain (June 19)
1886 Returned to New York (October 24)
1887 Preached last sermon, "I am Resolved What to Do" (February 27)
1887 Death of Henry Ward Beecher (March 8)
1887 Funeral Service at Plymouth Church (March 11)
1887 Buried at Green-Wood Cemetery (March 12)

Plymouth Church and Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims:

The Church of the Pilgrims, the first Congregational Church in Brooklyn, New York, was established in 1844 at Henry and Remsen Streets. Richard Salter Storrs was installed as its first pastor in 1846. As the population of Brooklyn grew and the number of congregants at Church of the Pilgrims increased, three of its members, John T. Howard, Seth B. Hunt, and Henry C. Bowen, with the assistance of David Hale from the Broadway Tabernacle Church, New York City, saw the occasion to establish a second Congregational Church in Brooklyn Heights. In 1847, nine additional members of the Church of the Pilgrims asked to be dismissed to help found this second church. By June of that year, a religious society with the name "Plymouth Church" had been formed. A certificate of incorporation was recorded in the clerk's office of Kings County on September 27, 1847.

Plymouth Church's first building had been that of Brooklyn's First Presbyterian Church. Plymouth Church purchased in 1846 this property, bordered by Orange, Cranberry, and Hicks Streets, when First Presbyterian relocated to Henry and Clark Streets. This property was initially purchased by John T. Howard, Seth B. Hunt, Henry C. Bowen and David Hale, and in June 1848 the property was transferred to the Trustees of Plymouth Church. The original Plymouth Church building was destroyed by fire in January 1849. The cornerstone for the structure of the new Plymouth Church was laid in May 1849, with the church opening its doors in January 1850.

The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher had been invited to speak at Plymouth Church prior to the church's incorporation. Members of the church, impressed with the young preacher, extended him a call to lead their congregation. Beecher accepted the call and was installed as the first pastor of Plymouth Church on November 11, 1847. Under Beecher's leadership, Plymouth Church expanded its role within the community; the church adopted missions, notably the Bethel Mission, at 15 Hicks Street, in 1866, and Navy Mission, located near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in 1871. Both of these institutions existed prior to their formal association with Plymouth, but prospered under Plymouth's support and expanded the influence of the church to a more diverse population. The church and several of its affiliated organizations sponsored concerts, plays, and other social events that were not limited to members of the church. The anti-slavery position of the church was exemplified by its participation in enslaved persons auctions, which purchased the freedom of several enslaved persons. The church further expressed its anti-slavery militance by sending boxes of rifles marked "Bibles" to Kansas in 1854. These rifles, referred to as "Beecher's Bibles," were sent to support free soil settlers of Kansas, who were engaged in violent altercations with pro-slavery settlers regarding the status of slavery in the Nebraska and Kansas Territories.

Under the pastorates of Beecher and his successor Lyman Abbott, the number of congregants continued to increase with little change to the church's physical plant. During the pastorate of Newell Dwight Hillis (1899-1924), Plymouth Church underwent a great stage of physical growth that was seen most notably in the 1902 Henry Ward Beecher Memorial Plan. The major goals for this project included the installation of stained glass windows in the church that demonstrated the influence of Puritanism on the people of the United States and the nation itself, an endowment fund of $100,000, and the construction of a building to house an institute which would sponsor programs and activities organized by the church.

Additionally, this plan included developing property adjoining the church into a small park and arcade which connected the new building to Plymouth Church. The building was first named the Arbuckle Institute after Plymouth Church benefactor and member John Arbuckle, and was later renamed Plymouth Institute and then Plymouth Church House. The Institute provided many services and activities for the residents of Brooklyn Heights, such as classes in foreign languages and accounting, athletic activities, and social events.

As the population of Brooklyn Heights changed in the early 20th century, the number of members of both Plymouth Church and Church of the Pilgrims declined. Many families of the middle and upper classes, which had previously been the main source of membership at both churches, left Brooklyn Heights. Their single family homes were divided into multiple units as Brooklyn Heights changed from a community of families and homeowners to a community of apartment dwellers, many of whom felt that the Congregational Church was not relevant to their lives. Both congregations were forced to reassess their positions within the community and their future economic stability.

In the spring of 1934, the congregations of Plymouth Church and Church of the Pilgrims consolidated, creating Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims. The Reverend J. Stanley Durkee of Plymouth Church and the Reverend John Curry Walker of Church of the Pilgrims led the new congregation as co-pastors. Services alternated between the two churches at first, but following the resignation of Reverend Walker in 1935, an increasing number of church activities were held at Plymouth Church. It became further evident that Plymouth Church was to be the congregation's primary place of worship with the Plymouth Rock Celebration in 1940. During this event a piece of Plymouth Rock was transferred from the Church of the Pilgrims to the Plymouth Church House. By 1944, the Church of the Pilgrims building at Henry and Remsen Streets was purchased by a Maronite Roman Catholic congregation, becoming Our Lady of Lebanon Church. At that time, all activities officially moved to the Plymouth Church site at Orange and Hicks Streets.

Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims was designated a National Historic Landmark in July 1961 by the United States Department of the Interior. Although the number of congregrants in the church does not compare to Beecher's time, the church continues to be an active member of the Brooklyn Heights community.

Henry Ward Beecher:

Henry Ward Beecher exercised his influence on many of the major social issues of the mid to late 19th century from his pulpit at Plymouth Church. Later eulogized as "the greatest preacher of his time," Beecher preached against slavery, for political candidates, women's rights, evolution, and his own idea of romantic Christianity that recognized "God's love for man and the availability of salvation for all." (Chadwick, 246; Clark, 4)

Beecher was born on June 24, 1813 in Litchfield, Connecticut, the youngest son of Lyman and Roxana Beecher. His father, a minister in the Presbyterian Church, was well known within the theological community for his advocacy of the "new religion," which endorsed personal salvation through conversion, an important emendation to traditional Calvinist theology. The younger Beecher studied at Amherst College, graduating in 1834, at which point he began his training at Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, where his father had become president. Beecher married Eunice White Bullard, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Artemas Bullard of Sutton, Massachusetts, upon his graduation from Lane in 1837. The young couple moved to Lawrenceberg, Indiana, soon after, where Beecher began his first pastorate at First Presbyterian Church. Beecher was called in 1839 to the larger Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, where he began to make a name for himself as a gifted orator and preacher. The Beecher family left Indiana in 1847 when the newly formed Plymouth Church in Brooklyn called on Beecher to become its first pastor.

Beecher quickly imposed his energetic preaching style upon Plymouth Church and the congregation grew in number as the young minister became known for his dynamic and affective style, which appealed not just to local Brooklynites, but to ferry-loads of Manhattan residents and tourists from throughout the country. Beecher's articles and sermons were soon being published both nationally and internationally. He initiated the tactic of "auctioning" enslaved persons to purchase their freedom in 1848, a technique that won him both criticism and praise from the nation. His position as a member of a famous family of thinkers, including his father and sisters, writer Harriet Beecher Stowe and educator Catharine Beecher, increased his notoriety and popularity. Beecher's influence and wide interests led to his association and identification with major New York figures of the day, a group that included abolitionists, writers, and social theorists, as well as national and international personalities. Following a trip to England during the Civil War, where he spoke on behalf of the Northern cause, some contemporaries even began to credit Beecher with winning British support for the Union through his arguments and oratorical style.

For most of his life, Beecher involved himself in all levels of political campaigns as well as social issues. Using his pulpit as a platform, he supported candidates whom he felt could and would best promote social reform. He was a staunch supporter of Republican candidates John C. Fremont, Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, and Rutherford B. Hayes, and was closely associated with that party. Still, Beecher felt confident enough to critique these major political figures and the party, supporting candidates whose policies best represented his own politics, as seen in his support of Democratic presidential candidate Grover Cleveland and his brief disassociation with, and criticism of, the Republican party in 1884.

Beecher devoted much of his time to literary pursuits as a regular contributor to a number of newspapers. He edited the New York Independent, a well known Congregational publication of the day, and later founded and edited the Christian Union (1870). His many lectures on life, art, literature, moral philosophy, and politics were gathered into volumes. He also authored a novel, Norwood (1867), a romantic depiction of New England life in the nineteenth century.

Beecher's wide scope of interests included history, art, the sciences, phrenology, and literature. He studied horticulture and agriculture. He had an affinity for architecture; he designed both the second Plymouth Church in 1849 and a summer home in Peekskill, N.Y. He was an extensive book collector and amassed a large private library over the years, the bulk of which was auctioned off at his death. These informal and formal pursuits informed his view of the world and the arguments that he espoused in his sermons and lectures.

Beecher's enthusiasms and his natural tendency to speak and act freely gained him many conservative critics, some of whom felt that he discredited his calling. His multiple enterprises, lecture schedule, and product endorsements afforded him a substantial income, which he used to purchase the material comforts he so enjoyed. Although this shared love of "the good life" endeared him to his middle-class congregants, his religious peers often took issue with this lifestyle, which was far from that of the traditional "modest preacher." He also earned criticism for what Clifford Clark reported in 1978 as his "romantic Christianity . . . a religion of the heart, an appeal to the feelings and emotions that replace[d] the cold, formalistic evangelical theology of the previous generation and [which] accepted the new theories of evolution and biblical criticism." (Clark, 3)

After the Civil War, Beecher's name became even more famous and controversial because of accusations of adultery. In October of 1872, sex reform advocate Victoria Woodhull accused Beecher of committing adultery with Elizabeth Tilton, the wife of Beecher's onetime protege, Theodore Tilton. The charge took root, and Tilton, then editor of the Independent, took his former friend to court. The six-month long trial was a worldwide news event, but culminated in the acquittal of Beecher in June of 1875.

Beecher overcame the scandal and his popularity appeared to grow in its aftermath. In 1876, he embarked on a lecture tour, traveling throughout the United States. In 1880, he endorsed the Republican presidential ticket of James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur in a speech at the Cooper Institute in New York City. He resigned his membership in the New York Congregational Ministerial Association in 1882 due to his belief in evolution, around which he centered an 1883 lecture tour. Still, his congregation continued to follow their beloved pastor and in 1883 the church celebrated his seventieth birthday.

Throughout the rest of his life, Beecher continued his travels and his lecture tours, continuing to support causes and political candidates. He delivered a famous eulogy for Ulysses S. Grant in 1885 and, only a year prior to his death, made a last trip to Britain. Henry Ward Beecher died on March 8, 1887, at the age of seventy-three. His funeral became an outpouring of loyalty and affection. Memorials and testimonies were published throughout the world and the anniversary of his death was remembered for years to come. Organizations were formed in his name, and no less than twenty biographies have since been written about his life, including one by Social Gospel advocate Lyman Abbott, Beecher's immediate successor at Plymouth Church.

Lyman Abbott:

Lyman Abbott (1835-1922) became the second pastor of Plymouth Church following the death of Henry Ward Beecher. He initially filled the role of temporary pastor while a committee searched for a permanent successor to Beecher. Abbott performed well enough in this capacity that in 1888 he was called upon to officially lead Plymouth Church.

Abbott had not always intended to devote his life to the ministry; instead, he became a partner in a law firm owned by his brothers following his graduation from New York University in 1853. Residing in Brooklyn, Abbott and his wife, Abby Frances Hamlin, daughter of Hannibal Hamlin, Abraham Lincoln's first Vice President, were active members of Plymouth Church. In 1858, during the period of the Great Revival at Plymouth Church, Abbott left his brothers' law practice and joined the ministry. Abbott was influenced by the Social Gospel, or Christian socialism, which was a reaction against industrialization. This movement included advocacy for the poor and became associated with the Progressive movement of the late 19th century.

In 1860, Abbott was ordained as a minister and accepted the pastorate of the Congregational Church of Terre Haute, Indiana. He left that position to become the Secretary of the Freedmen's Bureau in 1865. By the time Abbott returned to New York City in 1870, he was leading a church, writing for Harper's Magazine, and editing the Illustrated Christian Weekly. He continued to be employed in the literary field, resigning from the Illustrated Christian Weekly to become the editor of the Christian Union, of which Beecher was a founder. In addition to his many literary works, Abbott also wrote a biography of his predecessor and edited two volumes of Beecher's sermons.

When Abbott was asked to temporarily assume the pastorate of Plymouth Church in 1887, it was agreed that he need not forfeit his duties at the Christian Union. He agreed to preach on Sunday mornings and evenings and attend the Friday evening prayer meetings in order not to relinquish his duties at the Christian Union. When it was decided that Abbott would permanently fill the position of pastor of Plymouth Church, he continued to pursue his literary activities (editing and writing). Although he resigned from the pastorate of Plymouth Church in 1899, Abbott continued to lecture and write until his death on October 22, 1922, in New York City.

Newell Dwight Hillis:

Newell Dwight Hillis (1858-1929) was the third pastor of Plymouth Church. Following his graduation from Lake Forest University in 1884, Hillis enrolled as a student at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He took on a number of pastorates in the Chicago area before accepting a call to Plymouth in 1899. Unlike Reverend Abbott's limited role with the church community, Hillis and his family participated in many church activities and those of its related organizations, as well as the lives of the members of the congregation.

In addition to his weekly sermons at Plymouth, Hillis lectured extensively throughout the country. Many of his lectures were compiled and published as books while his sermons were often reprinted in newspapers. Like Beecher, Hillis felt that it was important to address social and political issues from the pulpit. Hillis was an outspoken critic of German aggression in the 1910s and spoke openly about the moral duty of the United States to declare war on Germany. After the United States entered World War I, Hillis spoke throughout the country on behalf of the Liberty Loan Drives, which raised funds for the war effort. Following the war, Hillis authored the "Better America" lectures, a series of lectures with accompanying slides which were addressed to a new immigrant population. The "Better America" lectures addressed issues that were considered important to the stability and security of the United States following the political upheaval in Europe which had led to World War I and the rise of the communism in Russia. The lectures and slides were sold as a package and were prepared so that others could deliver Hillis's lectures. In 1924, Hillis suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and soon afterward resigned from the pulpit of Plymouth Church. At the time of his death on February 25, 1929, Newell Dwight Hillis was considered one of the most prolific speakers of his generation.

James Stanley Durkee:

James Stanley Durkee (1866-1951) was the fourth pastor of Plymouth Church. Reverend Durkee was born in Nova Scotia on November 21, 1866. He graduated from Bates College and Cobb Divinity School in Maine and received his Ph.D. from Boston University. Durkee served as the President of Howard University, a university founded in 1867 through the financial support of the Freedmen's Bureau for the education of African Americans. In 1926, Durkee resigned from his position at Howard to accept the pastorate of Plymouth Church.

Installed in 1927, Durkee soon expressed a keen interest in the history of Plymouth Church and many of his sermons and church activities reflected this interest. He invited Rose Ward Hunt, a former enslaved African-American and Howard University graduate, to speak to the congregation on the anniversary of Reverend Beecher's first sermon at Plymouth. Durkee also organized a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which included re-enactments relating to the Emancipation Proclamation and Plymouth Church during this period.

Durkee was the pastor in 1934 when Plymouth Church consolidated with the Church of the Pilgrims. The new church took the name Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Durkee served as its co-pastor with Dr. John Curry Walker, who had been the pastor of the Church of the Pilgrims. Durkee led Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims until his retirement in 1941. Durkee died in Hyattsville, Maryland, on September 28, 1951.

Lawrence Wendell Fifield:

Lawrence Wendell Fifield (1891-1964) was selected to replace James Stanley Durkee, becoming the fifth pastor at Plymouth in 1941. At the time the call was extended, Fifield was the pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church of Seattle, Washington. Prior to Seattle, he held a pastorate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and taught Biblical Literature and Public Speaking at Yankton College in South Dakota. After leading Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims for close to fifteen years, Fifield, citing declining health, announced his resignation from the pastorate of Plymouth to take effect in the summer of 1955. Fifield died on July 26, 1964.

Note on Brooklyn History

Nineteenth century Brooklyn was a young and expanding city. When Plymouth Church was established in 1847, Brooklyn's population had more than doubled since its incorporation as a city in 1834. The city had gained prominence as a major port of trade, with docks and storage facilities lining the East River shore, and the establishment of a busy shipbuilding yard known as the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The city's economic prosperity, coupled with the growing population, led to the development of the city's commercial and residential center, known today as Brooklyn Heights. Also labeled as the "City of Churches," Brooklyn was home to numerous congregations and denominations. Immigrants and merchants were drawn to the city as it prospered and had formed communities often identified through religious institutions. This boom in population, coupled with the annexations of the nearby towns of Bushwick and Williamsburgh in 1854, made Brooklyn the third-largest city in the United States by 1860.

As Brooklyn's population and the size of their congregation grew, members of the Church of the Pilgrims saw an opportunity for expansion. Several members asked to be dismissed so that they could establish a second Congregational church, Plymouth Church. The new church's location in Brooklyn Heights was in a neighborhood of wealthy families of social standing and just a short ferry ride away from Manhattan, which allowed neighborhood residents and tourists alike to experience the oratorical skills of Plymouth's young preacher, Henry Ward Beecher. Beecher was instrumental in attracting international attention to Brooklyn and his involvement in the anti-slavery movement helped to bring further notice to the city as a major site of anti-slavery activity.

During and after the Civil War, the city of Brooklyn prospered. Increased trade and population growth resulted in further expansion and a solid middle class presence. Meanwhile, Brooklyn's wealthy families molded the city into a flourishing metropolis complete with the cultural institutions enjoyed by the middle and upper classes, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music (1861), The Long Island Historical Society (1863), and the Brooklyn Club (circa 1865).

In 1880, the city of Brooklyn was the fourth largest producer of manufactured goods in the United States and was still expanding in population and commercial growth. Over the next forty years, the demographics of Brooklyn altered dramatically: a second mass wave of immigration increased the population still further, the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges opened in 1883 and 1909, the subway arrived in 1908, industrial complexes grew, Brooklyn was annexed into the city of New York in 1898, and public utilities were expanded into the borough. The middle and upper class residents of Brooklyn Heights, once the primary constituency of Plymouth Church and Church of the Pilgrims, began to move away from the commercial center of the city. By the 1920s, the once grand homes of Brooklyn's elite families had been converted into apartment houses and housed a population of clerks and secretaries who worked across the river in the Manhattan financial district. The Great Depression and development projects such as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway led much of old Brooklyn Heights to fall into neglect until the early 1950s, when urban pioneers began to redevelop the neighborhood and promote its preservation.

The Borough of Brooklyn in 1999 was the most populous of New York City. The neighborhood along the bluffs overlooking the East River, Brooklyn Heights, was designated the first Historic District in New York City in 1966. Despite changes in population, politics, and economics, many of the 19th century brownstones, churches, and other structures still stand as testimony to the rich history of old Brooklyn.

Index to Henry Ward Beecher Sermons and Speeches

Following is an index of the Beecher sermons and other remarks in the collection, ordered alphabetically by title. Following the title is the date delivered (if known) and the box number-folder number (B-F) in which the piece can be found.

  • Activity (undated): B6-F8
  • Activity Indispensable to Normal Development (undated): B6-F9
  • The Administration of Wealth (undated): B6-F8
  • American Missionary Association (undated): B6-F9
  • American Missionary Association (undated): B6-F9
  • Be Conspicuous for Good Qualities (undated): B6-F6
  • The Bible (March 26, 1980): B3-F11
  • The Camp and Country (October 1861): B2-F3
  • Caution Against Procrastination (undated): B6-F6
  • Children of God Not to Crawl in His Presence (undated): B6-F6
  • Christ's Personal Ministry (undated): B6-F6
  • Church Worship (April 8, 1877): B3-F9
  • A Circuit of the Continent (November 29, 1883): B3-F17
  • Cleveland Letters (August 30 and September 8, 1866): B2-F9
  • Comfort in Knowing the Worst (undated): B6-F9
  • Commercial Wisdom of Religion (undated): B6-F6
  • Consolation in Trouble (March 3, 1876): B3-F10
  • Deterioration of Man (undated): B6-F7
  • Disenchantment of Scripture Passages (undated): B6-F6
  • Disinterested Benevolence (undated): B6-F8
  • The Divine Government (undated): B6-F6
  • Education of the Citizen (1860-1863): B2-F4
  • England and the Civil War of America (June 7, 1861): B2-F13
  • Eulogy on General Grant (October 22, 1885): Box 5 (no folder)
  • Eve of Emancipation (December 31, 1863): B2-F13
  • Extract from Lecture Room Talk (March 27, 1863): B2-F13
  • The Faults of Character (undated): B6-F9
  • Fruitfulness of the Human Mind (undated): B6-F8
  • Generosity and Benevolence (undated): B6-F8
  • Getting up in the Morning (undated): B6-F2
  • God's Love and Presence (February 23, 1868): B2-F13
  • God's Seal and Testimony (1858): B1-F36
  • Happiness (1870-1871): B2-F14
  • Heirship with Christ (February 14, 1886): B5-F6
  • Henry Ward Beecher in the West (1877): B3-F8
  • The Hidden Manna and the White Stone (July 1, 1866): B2-F9
  • The Higher Christian Life (February 16, 1872): B3-F10
  • The Household (1869-1871): B2-F12
  • How to Labor for a Revival (undated): B6-F6
  • The Human Body a Temple of the Holy Ghost (undated): B6-F8
  • Humanity (February 28, 1866): B5-F6
  • Inspiration of Scripture No. 1 (October 27, 1878): B3-F10
  • Interpolation of the Scriptures (undated): B6-F6
  • Is There a Devil? (February 25, 1883): B3-F17
  • The Kingdom of Heaven (January 3, 1886): B5-F6
  • A Knowledge of Doctrines Useful but Not Indispensable (undated): B6-F7
  • The Law of Human Development (undated): B6-F8
  • The Law of Sympathy (1858-1859): B2-F1
  • Laws and their Penalties (undated): B6-F7
  • Lecture (December 1, 1859): B2-F1
  • Lecture Room Talk (January 1, 1863?): B2-F13
  • Lecture Room Talk (May 21, 1875): B3-F10
  • Lecture Room Talk (July 27, 1876): B3-F10
  • Lecture Room Talk (March 1, 1878): B3-F10
  • Lecture Room Talk: excerpt (December 29, 1876): B3-F10
  • The Lord's Prayer No.2 (January 17, 1865): B2-F6
  • The Lord's Prayer No.3 (undated): B6-F13
  • Love for Southerners as well as Northerners (January 9, 1863): B2-F13
  • The Love of Money (undated): B6-F9
  • Lying Never Justifiable (undated): B6-F6
  • Men's Plans in Life (undated): B6-F9
  • Misconception of One's Duty as a Christian (June 15, 1877): B3-F10
  • Mission of Christ (undated): B6-F9
  • Money and Manhood: incomplete copy (1872-1873): B3-F2
  • Motives for Action (undated): B6-F7
  • Narrative on Trip to Ft. Sumter (April 12, 1865): Box 3 (no folder)
  • Natural Laws Moral, and Moral Laws Natural (undated): B6-F9
  • Old and New Ideas of Inspiration (undated): B6-F6
  • Origin of the Bible (undated): B6-F6
  • Patience (undated): B6-F9
  • Patient Waiting (April 16, 1865): Box 3 (no folder)
  • Patient Waiting (undated): B6-F9
  • Personal Influence (undated): B6-F7
  • Plymouth Church as a Pioneer in the Anti-Slavery Cause (May 25, 1870): B3-F10
  • Premonitions of God's Coming (1865): B2-F13
  • Professions of Faith (July 11, 1880): B3-F12
  • The Progress of Thought in the Church (in North American Review) (August 1882): B3-F14
  • Ready to Depart (December 31, 1863): B2-F13
  • Regular Progress in the Gospel Representation of Christ's Life (undated): B6-F6
  • Reign of the Common People (May 13, 1879): B3-F9
  • Remarks at 1st Anniversary of Equal Rights Association (May 10, 1867): B2-F10
  • Remote and Permanent Results (undated): B6-F8
  • Retrospection (undated): B6-F6
  • Riches (February 18, 1883): B3-F17
  • Self- Government (undated): B6-F9
  • Sepulcher in the Garden (March 26, 1880): B3-F11
  • Paul and Silas in the Prison of Thyatira (September 20, 1873): B2-F3
  • Sermon: 1st Corinthians 1:28 (November 19, 1872): B3-F1
  • Sermon: 1st Corinthians 2:15 (October 1868): B2-F11
  • Sermon: Acts of the Apostles 16 (undated): B6-F9
  • Sermon: Deut 6:1, 6-12 (July 2, 1884): B4-F1
  • Sermon: Genesis 9:11-16 (December 7, 1865): B2-F8
  • Sermon: Hebrews 4:9 (October 11, 1874): B3-F6
  • Sermon: Isa 16:3 (November 28, 1869): B2-F13
  • Sermon: James (?) 46:5 (June 28, 1885): B5-F2
  • Sermon: John 11:44 (July 5, 1885): B5-F3
  • Sermon: Matthew 11: 1-12 (November 9, 1884): B4-F2
  • Sermon: Mathew 25:26 (December 19, 1875): B3-F7
  • Sermon: Romans 2:4,5 (undated): B6-F3
  • Sermon: Romans 8:14,16 (undated): B6-F8
  • Sermon: Romans 8:19-23 (June 14, 1885): B5-F1
  • Sermon extract (May 31, 1874): B3-F10
  • Sermon extract (February 28, 1875): B3-F10
  • Sermon extract (March 19, 1876): B3-F10
  • Sermon extract (April 15, 1877): B3-F10
  • Sermon extract (April 14, 1878): B3-F10
  • Sermon notes: Ephesians 4: 31-32 (December 28, 1873): B3-F4
  • Sermon notes: Hebrews 12:18 and Galatians 5:22 (undated): B6-F14
  • Sermon notes: Luke 14:10 (June 22, 1877): B3-F9
  • Sermon notes: Luke 16:4 (undated): B6-F2
  • Sermon: Peter 2:17 (January 17, 1864): B2-F5
  • Sermon notes: Phil 1:15-18 (February 21, 1886): B5-F5
  • Sermon notes: Romans 14:12 (undated): B6-F2
  • Sermons (Sepember 1882-March 1883): B3-F16
  • Sermons (April-October 1883): Box 4 (no folder)
  • Sermons (October 1883-April 1884): Box 4 (no folder)
  • Sermons (April-October 1884): Box 5 (no folder)
  • Sermons (October 5-November 2, 1884): Box 5 (no folder)
  • Sermons (1885-1886): Box 5 (no folder)
  • Sermons (1886-1887): Box 5 (no folder)
  • Sermons: printed (circa 1887): B6-F1
  • Shame (undated): B6-F6
  • Significance of the Term Hatred as Used by Christ (January 10, 1886): B5-F4
  • Signification of the Word 'Forty' in the Scriptures (undated): B6-F6
  • Sorrow and Its Dangers (undated): B6-F9
  • Thanksgiving Sermon (November 27, 1879): B3-F10
  • The Threefold Man (undated): B6-F7
  • Truths of Law Founded in Nature (undated): B6-F6
  • Two Hundred and Forty Years Ago! (undated): B6-F4
  • Unconscious Selfishness (undated): B6-F9
  • The Unity of Christians by the Power of Love (July 11, 1886): B5-F6
  • Upper and Under (circa 1874): B3-F5
  • A Voice (undated): B6-F9
  • The Vulgarity of Ignorance (undated): B6-F6
  • Wants of Young Men (May 6, 1860): B2-F2
  • What Men Believe Religion Can Do For Them (undated): B6-F6
  • Works (undated): B6-F8
  • The Worth of Man (January 1882): B3-F13
  • Young America (undated): B6-F5


The Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Henry Ward Beecher collection is organized in three series:

Series 1: Henry Ward Beecher, 1819-1958

Series 2: Plymouth Church, 1824-1980

Series 3: Images, circa 1840s-circa 1966

The first two series are further arranged into several sections that are described below at the series level. The series contain overlapping dates and materials. For example, those materials recording the daily workings of Plymouth Church during Henry Ward Beecher's tenure, such as Sunday School records, are found within Series 2: Plymouth Church, as their primary function illustrates the activities of the church, not Beecher. Similarly, the records of Beecher's Silver Wedding Anniversary, which, although organized by the church, relate directly to Beecher, are found in Series 1: Henry Ward Beecher.

Date ranges used on folders and for the collection as a whole were determined on a best effort basis within the time constraints of processing. Consequently there may be documents in folders with dates that fall outside the noted date range. This is particularly true for the many scrapbooks, newsclippings, and undated documents in the collection. An effort was made within processing constraints to place a circa date on these.

Scope and Contents

The Plymouth-Beecher collection was donated to the Center for Brooklyn History (formerly the Brooklyn Historical Society and Long Island Historical Society) by the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, where it had been amassed over the years. The collection includes Beecher's own manuscripts as well as materials gathered by the church as reference tools. These materials consist mainly of works written about Beecher, and materials dealing with the church during and after Beecher's tenure. A number of the documents deal primarily with Plymouth Church and secondarily with Beecher and his time. Consequently, the collection proves useful for researchers of Beecher's life and for research of the Plymouth Church community and 19th century Congregationalism. Due to the broad scope of these papers, the collection is identified as the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Henry Ward Beecher collection.

The bulk of the collection relates to Henry Ward Beecher and his time at Plymouth Church, and contains materials relating both to Beecher's life apart from the Church, and Plymouth Church's history apart from Beecher, including documents regarding Beecher's successors. The collection as a whole represents the history of Plymouth Church prior to and following its consolidation with Church of the Pilgrims in 1934 and Beecher's relationship with the church, both in actuality, during his life, and in perception, after his death.

Henry Ward Beecher

The materials found in the first series of the collection are focused on Henry Ward Beecher, and are quite diverse. Beecher's interests and activities were varied, a fact that is reflected within those papers directly concerning him. In addition to the materials regarding his time at Plymouth, other aspects of his life, including his work as an abolitionist, his career as a lecturer, and his personal relationships, are represented. Those sections of the series concentrating on his private life and his work prior to Plymouth are less comprehensive than those relating to Plymouth Church and his public persona.

The Beecher series contains materials illustrative of nearly every aspect of Henry Ward Beecher's life as a member of the clergy, beginning with limited materials relating to his years as a young preacher in Indiana. With his letter of acceptance to Plymouth Church, the collection begins to focus on his time in Brooklyn and his association with Plymouth, the church where he earned his fame.

A substantial portion of the manuscript material is made up of correspondence illustrating his work in Brooklyn, his political concerns, his personal interests, and his relationships with family and friends. Much of Beecher's correspondence deals with the management of his summer home, and illustrates his knowledge of, and concern for, his land. The majority of family correspondence can be found in William Beecher's book of letters received. Included are letters from friends and family members, including William's father, Henry Ward Beecher. Additionally, letters and papers relating to individual family members provide insight into Beecher's personal life as well as his public activities. Substantial correspondence to Beecher criticizing his abolitionism can be found in a scrapbook in the Beecher series.

Beecher's literary works, particularly his sermons, are well represented within the series by a group of hand-written manuscripts, as well as the typescript transcripts made by T.J. Ellinwood, who served as Beecher's stenographer for many years. About twenty-five bound copies of such typescripts with introductory notes by Ellinwood are included in addition to unbound packets. Ellinwood also bound the reviews and correspondence concerning those collections of Beecher's writings published posthumously. In addition to these volumes, the collection contains a substantial representation of pamphlet printings, some quite rare, of Beecher's works, as well as Beecher's sermon notebook.

Records of Beecher's ministry at Plymouth Church are certainly of special note and can be specifically seen in the reminiscences of church members, as well as the large collection of ephemera, record books, and miscellaneous notices documenting the major events in the history and business of the church during Beecher's tenure. Several of these events, such as the "Silver Wedding Celebration" and Beecher's seventieth birthday, focus on Beecher. However, found within the second series of the collection, which focuses on Plymouth Church, are more general church records from Beecher's tenure, such as those of the Sabbath School, along with membership applications and church publications.

Also documented in the Beecher series is his and, in turn, Plymouth's stand on the major issues of the day, namely slavery and the Civil War. Beecher was a prominent figure in the anti-slavery movement and a key supporter of the Union during the War and many in his congregation followed suit. The "auctioning" of enslaved persons in Plymouth Church is related in the materials concerning Rose Ward Hunt, an enslaved girl, known at the time by the racist nickname"Pinky." Hunt's return to Plymouth Church in 1927 is documented in the collection, which includes an audio cylinder with brief remarks from Hunt; a digital version of the cylinder recording is available on the Internet Archive. Reactions to Beecher's politics can be seen in a scrapbook of letters he received from his readers throughout the nation and of newspaper clippings about his activities.

The collection includes political material from the war period, which came to the Church through Beecher's political involvement. The controversy over Beecher's support of the military and his relationship with Lincoln are alluded to, and there are letters written by several important political and military figures. Copies of Beecher's famous "Eulogy on Grant" can also be found in the collection, in manuscript as well as published form, along with his "Narrative of Trip to Fort Sumter."

For those specifically interested in Beecher or the moral culture of the day, the collection holds accounts of the Beecher-Tilton adultery trial. Ephemera, two scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, and the five volumes of the official and verbatim trial reports, allow for a thorough study of the trial and the public reaction to these events.

Upon Beecher's death in 1887, numerous memorials and testimonials of his life were published in various newspapers and magazines. The collection holds twelve scrapbooks containing such articles, memorial pamphlets, sermons, speeches, and poems, including an elaborate hand calligraphed memorial album and various memorabilia from Beecher's funeral. Anniversaries of his death were similarly publicized and a number of memorial organizations were founded in his name. The collection holds records of the Beecher Literary and Debating Society and the Beecher Missionary Circle, as well as an article concerning the Beecher Memorial Church, founded in Brooklyn in 1932.

Plymouth Church

The material in the second series of the collection pertain principally to the history of Plymouth Church. Although the bulk of material in this series dates from the death of Henry Ward Beecher in 1887, items from Beecher's tenure at Plymouth Church can be found in much of the series.

The series includes Church Manuals (which include Articles of Faith, Church procedures, and member rosters), Church Bulletins, programs from holiday services, the church's monthly publication, The Plymouth Chimes, and Plymouth Chimes' Calendars. Although the publication runs in the collection are incomplete, the publications do reveal the ideology of the church. The Chimes was not published in July and August, and are in three formats in this collection: bound, oversized and loose. The Plymouth Hymnal: For the Church the Social Meeting and the Home indicates how services should be conducted at Plymouth Church.

There are also a number of church records, including annual reports, a shareholder book (1859), a list of applicants to the church, and charts of pew rental records (1900-1924). Although there are gaps, the annual reports show the financial standing of the Church throughout its history. Other items, such as the subscription book, include names and addresses of those who contributed to the church. In addition, there is a volume of applicants to Plymouth Church (1868-1870). This volume indicates the religious history of the applicant and includes hometown, if the applicant recently moved to the Brooklyn area. The series also contains additional lists indicating members and contributors to the church.

Sunday and Sabbath School materials include rosters and roll books, some of which include the addresses of the students. In addition to these rosters, the activities and operation of the schools are documented through Hymn Books and sheet music from holiday events, scrapbooks, and other ephemera.

The extent to which Plymouth Church involved itself in the Brooklyn Heights community is revealed in materials related to various Church activities, including programs and pamphlets pertaining to the Arbuckle Institute, Plymouth Institute, and Plymouth Church House. These pamphlets and programs indicate the types of activities the Institutes and Church House sponsored. Activities included classes ranging from accounting to physical education and social events, such as concerts and plays. Also found are pamphlets and programs pertaining to other Plymouth organizations such as the Plymouth League and the Plymouth Men's Club. There are also bills, receipts, and account books from several benevolence organizations that were affiliated with the church. Of special interest in this section are the materials relating to the Plymouth Rock Celebration. These items document the organization of the event, from sending out invitations and seeking potential speakers, to thanking participants for their assistance. The low attendance for the event compared to the high expectations for participation in the event, reveals the decline in membership facing the church, even after the consolidation of Plymouth Church and Church of the Pilgrims.

The documentation of Plymouth Church's history also includes material concerning its pastors other than Beecher. Those materials relating to Dr. Lyman Abbott, Beecher's immediate successor, are most closely related to Beecher, documenting life in Brooklyn during the time and noting the continued importance of Beecher's reputation. Each of the succeeding pastors was constantly aware of Plymouth Church being representative of Beecher's legacy, and papers from each show their attention to this fact. In addition, biographical information, clippings, and ephemera pertaining to the pastors are found in this series. The writings of Newell Dwight Hillis are of special note here. Hillis's outspoken view urging the United States to enter World War I and his Better America lecture series, following the War, illustrate his pro-American position during this time of political unrest in the United States.

The Plymouth materials also include correspondence and clippings of noted members of Plymouth Church. The church's continued concern for the reputation of its most famous son can be seen in its stance against Paxton Hibben's 1927 biography of Beecher in this series. The book did not show the minister in the most favorable light and the members of Plymouth gathered clippings and reviews of the spirited responses to it, and engaged in an active letter writing campaign in an attempt to discredit its account. Scrapbooks created by members of the church documenting the activities of the congregation, Henry Ward Beecher, and the Beecher family through newsclippings, programs, bulletins, and other ephemera are in the collection. Items from Church of the Pilgrims prior to its consolidation with Plymouth Church and other miscellaneous items can also be found.

The collection also includes a large number of photographs of Beecher throughout his life, and Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims throughout its history, as well as related scenes and people.


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies may be made for research purposes only. Permission to publish material in the collection must be requested of Library staff:

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Henry Ward Beecher collection; ARC.212; Box and folder number; Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History.

Location of Materials

The majority of the materials in this collection are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact at least three weeks prior to research visit.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The bulk of the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Henry Ward Beecher collection was donated to the Center for Brooklyn History (formerly the Brooklyn Historical Society and Long Island Historical Society) by the church on October 29, 1983. The collection was created by Plymouth Church/Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims to document the history of the two churches as well as Plymouth Church's first pastor, Henry Ward Beecher.

The collection is artificial in that many items, especially those related to Beecher, appear to have been collected and donated over an extended period of time, often by congregants who happened upon materials loosely associated to the famous preacher and his time. The collection includes, for example, souvenirs from the Harriet Beecher Stowe House and memorials of the assassinated President Lincoln. Explicit documentation of the provenance of such items is lacking. One 1873 organ concert program was the gift of Frank J. Wilder.

Correspondence regarding the collection during the time it was held at Plymouth Church, written sometime after 1920, outlined a prospective plan for the collection. William Davenport, attorney and member of Plymouth Church, stated in the plan that "countless invaluable records especially of the Bethel S[abbath] S[chool] and Main S[abbath] S[chool] were lost [in the 1920 fire] besides scores of fine photographs, documents and other articles relating to the church's history." Davenport urged the active collection of papers and letters relating to prominent church figures, most notably Henry Ward Beecher, to be "secured,...preserved, and [transcribed]." His successful solicitation is evidenced in the numerous typed transcripts of original documents now found within the collection. In addition he called for the creation of "a card catalog of the books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and so forth." This suggestion was also heeded, and the resulting catalog is now housed by Center for Brooklyn History.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The majority of the materials in this collection are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact at least three weeks prior to research visit.

Related Materials

Other archival materials at Center for Brooklyn History that relate to this collection are:

Plymouth Church collection (Accession 1986.018), which includes miscellaneous annual reports, manuals, etc.

Church of the Pilgrims collection (Accession 1986.019), which includes miscellaneous programs, directories, etc.

Newell Dwight Hillis papers (Accession 1985.004).

Lyman Abbott letter to L.P. Morton of Columbia Heights (Accession 1986.001).

Brooklyn Historical Society newspaper collection (call number ARC.258) includes issues of The Christian Union, which was edited by Beecher.

Brooklyn Young Republican Club collection (Accession 1977.077), which was compiled by Henry Ward Beecher's son, William C. Beecher.

Richard Salter Storrs papers (call number ARC.082). Storrs was a pastor at Church of the Pilgrims.

Linda Nakdimen papers and Henry Ward Beecher Anniversary photographs (accession 2008.038) contains correspondence between Linda Nakdimen and Stuyvesant "Peter" Barry and Alice Trumbull (Scoville) Barry, the great-great-granddaughter of Henry Ward Beecher. The photographs document the 100th year anniversary celebration of Beecher's death in 1987 and the 150th anniversary celebration of the founding of Plymouth Church in 1997. The newspaper clippings are related to the celebrations and Beecher's life.

BHS also six issues of the Daily Graphic (August-October, 1874) devoted to the Beecher/Tilton trial.

Digital images of Plymouth Church and Beecher held by BHS, beyond those in this collection, can be found by searching BHS's PastPerfect database, available in the library.

Secondary materials in BHS's Library can be found at the following call numbers:

Subject: Church of the Pilgrims. Call number: BX5980. B8 P55

Subject: Plymouth Church. Call number: BX7255. B76 P59

Subject: Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims. Call number: BX7255. B7 P5

Subject: Henry Ward Beecher. Call number: CT275.B4343

Published copies of Beecher's sermons. Call number: BX7233.B44

Materials authored by Newell Dwight Hillis, Lyman Abbott, and additional works by Beecher can be found by executing an author search on Bobcat, BHS's on-line catalog. Some specific useful materials include:

Abbott, Lyman. Henry Ward Beecher/ by Lyman Abbott. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Co., 1903.

Chadwick, John W. Henry Ward Beecher: A Sermon. Boston: George H. Ellis, Publisher, 1887.

A Church In History: The Story of Plymouth's First Hundred Years under Beecher, Abbott, Hillis, Durkee, and Fifield. Brooklyn: Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, 1949.

Clark, Clifford E., Jr. Henry Ward Beecher: Spokesman for a Middle-Class America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978.

The Federal Writers' Project (New York). The WPA Guide to New York City: The Federal Writers' Project Guide to New York. New York: Pantheon Books, 1982.

Fox, Richard Wightman. Trials of Intimacy: Love and Loss in the Beecher Tilton Scandel. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

Rugoff, Milton. The Beechers: An American Family in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1981.

Stiles, Henry R. A History of the City of Brooklyn., Volume 3. Brooklyn: Published by Subscription, 1870.

Thompson, Noyes L. The History of Plymouth Church. New York: G. W. Carleton & Co. 1873.

Waller, Altina L. Reverend Beecher and Mrs. Tilton: Sex and Class in Victorian America. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1982.

Collection processed by

C. Dierdre Phelps (1984). Revised by Teresa Mora and Mae Pan, Project Archivists, with edits by Dr. Marilyn H. Pettit, Project Consultant (1999)

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-03-25 18:09:14 +0000.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Finding aid written in English

Processing Information

The collection was processed by C. Dierdre Phelps in 1984. Phelps's 1984 finding aid was revised in 1999 by project archivists Teresa Mora and Mae Pan and project consultant Dr. Marilyn H. Pettit. Additional editing of the finding aid was done in 2006-2007 by archivist Leilani Dawson. Edits were also made in 2010 by project archivist Larry Weimer and volunteer Jesse Brauner, principally to accommodate the requirements of input to Archivists' Toolkit. The related collections note was updated by John Zarrillo in December 2016.

This collection combines four accessions. The bulk of the material is from accession 1985.002. A few documents are from accessions 1978.098 and 1978.172. Accession v1997.069, containing a portrait and political cartoon of Beecher, and an Arbuckle Institute booklet (Gift of Cornell University), were added by John Zarrillo in 2014.

Oppressive descriptive language was remediated from the biographical/historical and scope and contents notes in this finding aid as part of an anti-racist descriptive language audit performed in January 2021. Folder titles and language used in general notes at the folder level have been retained to document descriptive historical language.

Revisions to this Guide

September 2018: Revised by Maggie Schreiner to incorporate additional materials.
October 2018: Revised by Lena Evers-Hillstrom to reflect additional materials found in the repository
January 2021: Revised by Amy Lau, Archivist, to remediate oppressive language from biographical/historical and scope and contents notes.
June 2022: Revised by Archivist Alice Griffin to add off-site Physical Location note and CBH language.


Brooklyn Historical Society
Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201