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Edward Franklin Williams papers

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Box 1

Box 2

Box 3

Box 4

Box 5

Box 6

Box 7

Box 8

Box 9

Box 10

Box 11

Box 12

Box 13

Box 14

Box 15

Box 16

Box 17

Lecture notes

Box 19

Box 20

Box 21

Box 22

Box 23

Box 24

Box 25

Box 26

Box 27

Box 28

Box 29

Box 30



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Edward Franklin Williams papers, 1838-1918 | Amistad Research Center

By Gracia M. Hardacre

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Collection Overview

Title: Edward Franklin Williams papers, 1838-1918Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Williams, Edward Franklin (1832-1919)

Extent: 11.0 Linear Feet

Date Acquired: 12/01/1969

Subjects: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, American Home Missionary Society, American Missionary Association, Chicago Theological Seminary, Hale, George Ellery, 1868-1938, Howard University, Pearsons, D. K. (Daniel Kimball), 1820-1912, Philanthropy and education - United States - 19th century, United States Christian Commission

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The papers of the Rev. Edward Franklin Williams consist mainly of correspondence, dating from 1841-1918. There are also accounts; a fragmentary diary; news clippings and scrapbooks; documents; a few by-laws, minutes, resolutions, and lists of organizations to which Williams belonged; announcements, invitations, programs, and calling cards; a few poems and photographs (none of Williams or his wife); lecture notes and writings such as articles, essays, speeches, and the column entitled "At the West" written by Williams for The Congregationalist under the pen name, "Franklin," which dates from 1887 to 1908.

The letters of Edward F. Williams to his wife and family account for about 400 items, and those of his wife, Jane Clarissa (Pitkin) Williams, nicknamed "Jennie" (1838-1908) to her husband and her family comprise some 500 more (Boxes 1-3). Williams came of a closely knit Massachusetts family characterized by piety and thrift, Republican in politics, and having strong Abolitionist principles. There are ca. 900 family letters from the immediate family (Boxes 3-4) and from a wide circle of uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. (Box 5). Edward F. Williams' mother, Delilah (Morse) Williams (d. 1884), brother, Gustavus Baylies Williams (1834-1910), and sister, Emily Ann Williams (d. 1873), corresponded often and in the most affectionate terms. Although their father, George Williams (1804-1888) was a prosperous farmer, both sons had to borrow from one another and from an aunt, Mrs. Huldah (Williams) Arnold (1791-1894) for their higher education, and both taught school before and during attendance at college, returning home from time to time to help their father with farm chores. Of other family members, Bryan A. Simmons of Hartford, Connecticut (1836-1910) wrote most frequently and kept in closest touch. He was the husband of one of Jane C. Williams' sisters, Harriet Treat (Pitkin) Simmons (1837-1899). In box 6 (ca. 300 items, 1847-73) is to be found correspondence with schools and college friends (Yale College and Princeton Theological Seminary) and with other friends and mentors met during the early years of intermittent teaching and attendance at college.

During the Civil War, Gustavus B. Williams wrote some interesting and informative letters when he was an enlisted man in Co. K, 51st Massachusetts Infantry, from Sept., 1862, to ca. March, 1863, which reflect the experience and tribulations of the Union troops. In 1860, he deplores "the spirit of hate pervading the Northern anti-slavery agitation and its unchristian, deleterious influence"  Yet in October, 1862, he would say, "I feel that I am in a holy war." His idealism was greatly tempered by experience, and in January, 1863, he says, "our troops are tired, sick, discouraged with a war in which they have no heart, no hope." Other interesting Civil War letters, but telling of the home front, are those of Emily A. Williams and the Rev. Lewis F. Clark (d. 1870), pastor of Whitinsville, Massachusetts. In a letter of May 29, 1863, Clark describes the departure of the "first colored regiment" from Boston.

The soldier's lot was alleviated by the services of the U.S. Christian Commission, concerning which there are ca. 460 items in this collection (Box 12). Edward F. Williams served as a commission field agent for two and a half years with the Armies of the Potomac and James and was with the 5th Army Corp during the Wilderness Campaign. Under the Commission, instituted by a convention of YMCAs of the northern states, Williams and his colleagues ministered to soldiers in hospitals and camps, and when occasion arose, to prisoners and civilians as well. They attempted to fulfill the requests of chaplains, surgeons and commanders mainly for reading matter, tents in which to hold chapel and school, need diet foods, clothing, and all-purpose kits ("housewares") which they begged from their friends at home. They also tried to locate wounded or missing men for their relatives, and delivered money or messages to and from the soldiers. In addition, they supplied libraries for federal gunboats (Pease to Williams, May 10, 1865). During times of special stress, as during an attack or withdrawal, aid was often substantial, with several wagon loads of assorted provisions - including staples like bread - provided each day.

Late in 1864, plans were already under way to establish schools for the "freedmen" - a term which seems to have included also the free blacks who had enlisted (Gross to Williams (Dec. 6, 1864), and under the Commission schools were organized for the black troops. The need for education in one regiment is eloquently stated by Arthur M. Greene, Major, commanding the 127th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops (Greene to Williams, Dec. 19, 1864). By the end of February, 1865, reports of these schools began to arrive, and in the following months, they proved to be popular and increased in number. By March, 1865, the program had so far advanced as to necessitate the appointment of a U.S. Christian Commission agent solely to oversee schools (Smith to Williams, Mar. 14, 1865). The Commission continued after the surrender, and its final meeting was held on February 11, 1866. Schools were continued for the freedmen, and in December, 1865, Charles W. McMahon was appointed supervisor of these schools (Houghton to Williams, Dec. 26, 1865).

There are ca. 150 letters and a few circulars relating to Lookout Mountain Educational Institutions, Chattanooga, Tennessee (Box 13). The school was founded in 1866 by New York philanthropist, Christopher Rhinelander Robert (1803-1878). Edward F. Williams, as principal, was sent by Robert to Chattanooga in January, 1866, to start the school in abandoned government buildings, and he remained until April, 1867. The student body was multiracial and there were classrooms for men and others for women - hence the plural title, "Institutions." Williams recruited a former acquaintance in the U.S. Christian Commission, Charles Carroll Carpenter (1836-1918), as superintendent. Responsibility for the support of the school seems to have passed from Robert to other quarters. By April, 1867, Robert was corresponding with Edward Parmalee Smith (1827-1876) of the American Missionary of most of the 80 men and 40 women enrolled (Elliott to Williams, June 30, 1868). On March 20, 1867, Williams resigned, remaining until sometime in April.

On May 1, he was appointed by the American Missionary Association "a missionary teacher to the Freedmen" in Washington, D.C., where he was principal of and taught in the "Normal and Preparatory Division" of Howard University. Folders 7-16, Box 13, contain ca. 250 letters and occasional items. Of particular interest are statistical reports for the first three months of Howard University's operation (May, June, and July 1867) and student application and transfers from other schools. Included are some letters of John A. Cole, who had been in the U.S. Christian Commission with Williams and who, in 1868, became a missionary for the American Missionary Association. In Washington, he founded a very short-lived trade school called Colfax Industrial School and later began Lincoln Mission at Howard University, which survived.

After leaving Howard University in August, 1867, Edward F. Williams corresponded with his former students, as he had done with students at Lookout Mountain Educational Institutions. One of these, Simon Peter Smith (d. 1914?), had been a student at the latter school and with Williams' assistance came to Howard University and received nine years of schooling there. In 1877, Simon P. Smith became a missionary for the American Missionary Association and was stationed in several small southern churches (also one in Illinois), some of which he founded. All were poor and struggling. In the early years of Smith's going into the missionary field, his letters abound with social and political comment (the use of the word "nigger" in talking about and to African Americans; a Jim Crow train ride; incidents of harassment, insult, and violence against Blacks; a talk with Francis Cardozo; the Ku Klux Klan; the unlikelihood of blacks getting political power in the South; feeling against Wade Hampton and the Republican Party; etc.). There are 129 letters from Simon P. Smith, 1867-1914. Letters through 1876 also concern Howard University where Smith was still a student.

There are about 3,000 letters (Boxes 6-16) during the Rev. Edward F. Williams' career as a Congregational clergyman, which he began to pursue after leaving Howard University. After a trial period of about a year, during which he preached in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, and Illinois, he and his wife settled in Chicago, where he became pastor in December, 1868, of the Tabernacle Church, remaining until 1873. He accepted a new pastorate from 1873-91 at 47th Street Church (later South Church). After an extended stay abroad (June, 1891 to July, 1893), primarily in Germany, where he pursued studies in Berlin, he returned to Chicago. He continued to write a column for The Congregationalist and to be a visiting supply minister. He also lectured, taught occasionally, wrote for a wide variety of journals, and produced two books. In 1901, he again became pastor of a Chicago church, Evanston Avenue Church, until 1911, when he became pastor emeritus.

After having been actively engaged in missionary education during Reconstruction, Dr. Williams vigorously supported the cause of missions and schools. The spread of missionary schools in the South is represented by Williams' correspondence with American Missionary Association officials and teachers in the A.M.A. schools, 1866-1917. Among these schools were Atlanta Theological Seminary (Georgia), Berea College (Kentucky), Emerson Institute (Alabama), Fisk University (Tennessee), Howard University (Washington, D.C.), and Talladega College (Alabama). Two other schools for blacks with which Williams corresponded were AIA College, Baltimore Co., Maryland (for women, Andrew B. Cross, President), and Morristown Normal and Industrial College, Morristown, Tennessee (Judson S. Hill, President).

In 1876, Dr Williams became secretary of the Western Education Society, and his connection with the establishment of missionary schools in the West, particularly in Utah and New Mexico, is evident in his correspondence with the Western Education Society, 1877-85; the New West Education Commission, 1882-92; the American Home Missionary Society and it branch, the Illinois Home Missionary Society, 1887-92; the Congregational Home Missionary Society, 1898-1908; the Congregational Church-Building Society, 1905-1910; and the Congregational Education Society, Western Office, Chicago, 1906.

Efforts of the traditional churches ("the gentiles") to found and maintain missions and schools in Mormon territory are discussed at some length in letters (ca. 1879-ca.1892). The New West Education Commission was a missionary enterprise of the Congregational Church to increase schools and missions in Utah and New Mexico. (A successor was the Congregational Education Society.) One instance of Mormon opposition to a Commission school - one among many - was recorded in 1882 (Munson to Williams, March 28, 1882 - Box 7).  In 1887, Secy. Charles R. Bliss reported that the Commission had established 7 academies and 23 other schools in Utah and New Mexico, and with the schools were 30 Sunday schools. In all, 2600 children were being taught, and towns mentioned were Heber and Ogden, Utah, and Albuquerque, New Mexico (news clipping, source unknown, Dec. 10, 1887). In 1887-88, Dr. Williams described Salt Lake City and conditions in Utah as he understood them to be (columns in The Congregationalist, 1887-88, Box 20). From May to July, 1888 (Box 8), there was a difference of opinion between the Presbyterians and Congregationalists as to where in Utah and New Mexico missions should be located, as neither denomination wished to encroach on an area where the other had begun to proselytize.

The appearance of one of the better-known evangelists never failed to create a great stir. In October and December, 1876; January, 1877; and May, 1878, Dwight Lyman Moody and Dr. Sankey were stumping the country, and numerous references are to be found concerning them (Box 7). In the spring of 1906, evangelistic meetings were planned in Chicago with "Torrey" as the main speaker (Box 10). In March, 1908, the meetings led by Gipsy Smith, Billy Sunday, and Dr. Vincent caused much comment (Box 11), with William Ashley Sunday described as the most persuasive of them all.

Dr. Williams interest in foreign missionary education appears in his correspondence with the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (Congregational), 1882-1912, and with individual foreign mission schools, 1900-1910. Aid was restricted to no special country, as schools in India, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Japan all applied successfully.

A significant feature of the collection is Dr. Williams' correspondence with educational philanthropists.  This began in 1866, when he became principal of Lookout Mountain Educational Institutions, Chattanooga, Tennessee, founded by New York philanthropist, Christopher Rhinelander Robert. His acquaintance with such men was to broaden during his later years. From 1896 until 1912 colleges, institutions, and individuals wrote to him to intercede on their behalf with Dr. Daniel Kimball Pearsons (1820-1912), physician and Chicago philanthropist. As Pearsons' biographer and unofficial advisor, Williams received a great many requests for interviews and pleas to influence Dr. Pearsons.

Pearsons was a precursor of Carnegie and Rockefeller and is credited with introducing conditional giving to college financing ("When Dr. Pearsons started the movement to contribute conditional gifts, it gave a mighty impetus to college financing" [Steffans to Williams, Mar. 24, 1911, Box 15]). Andrew Carnegie in a letter to Pearsons, May 2, 1904 (Box 14) signs himself, "your humble disciple." Pearsons' benefactions were usually on the basis of a $1 gift to be matched by $3 raised. In giving away his personal fortune in excess of $5,000,000, he assisted some 50 small colleges, 10 in the South, and the rest mainly in the West and Midwest. He also aided several theological seminaries and some elementary and secondary schools, as well as donating about $200,000 to foreign mission work (American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions and some mission schools).

Colleges receiving the largest gifts were Beloit (Wisconsin), Whitman (Washington), Pomona (California) Lake Forest and Knox (Illinois), Yankton (South Dakota), Berea (Kentucky), and Mt. Holyoke (Massachusetts). Other colleges benefitting from Pearsons' largesse about which there is correspondence in these papers include Atlanta Theological Seminary (Georgia), Chicago Theological Seminary (Illinois), Colorado, Fargo (North Dakota), Maryville (Tennessee), Montpelier Seminary (Vermont), Pacific University (Oregon), Talladega (Alabama), and Washburn (Kansas). Still other institutions to which Pearsons gave generously were the Chicago City Missionary Society, the Chicago YMCA, and the Presbyterian Hospital, Chicago.

Correspondence, 1890-1912 (ca. 350 items), by and about Dr. Pearsons will be found in Boxes 14 and 15; included are 69 letters, 1895-1912, by D. K. Pearsons (as he signed himself). There is a small likeness of Pearsons in the dedicatory program of Pearsons Hall, Maryville College, Maryville, Tennessee, dated May 31, 1910, and enclosed in a letter by the college president, Samuel T. Wilson, March 24, 1911 (Box 15).

As advisor to the William E. Hale Fund, Williams again had an opportunity to benefit education, this time in fostering of research, which was the main objective of the Fund. There are 256 items of Hale family correspondence, 1874-1918, including 82 letters on Fund business, 1901-1911, from William Browne Hale, Chicago lawyer, Edward F. Williams (5), and applicants to the Fund. After the death of their father, William Ellery Hale (1836-1898), the children of Mr. Hale and his wife, Mary Scranton (Browne) Hale (1839-1899) - George Ellery (1868-1938) and William Browne Hale (b. ca. 1877), and their sister, Martha Davis (Hale) Harts (Mrs. William Wright), nicknamed "Mattie" (b. 1873) - established the Fund in 1901 in their father's memory.  With the furtherance of research, mainly scientific research, as its aim, the Fund also made grants to various individuals and charities - no single disbursement of over $1,000 being mentioned. Among grantees were a Biblical scholar who visited monasteries in Greece and Syria, two foreign astronomers, and college departments of science and astronomy, as well as the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the Chicago City Missionary Society, and needy individuals.

Throughout the Hale family letters is evident the deep interest and pride which all family members took in the progress and accomplishments of George E. Hale, later America's leading astronomer and founder of the Mt. Wilson Observatory, California. He is mentioned in most letters. Among other things done in support of his son's career, William E. Hale built an observatory near the family home which was later used after George became a professor there by the University of Chicago until the astronomy department moved to Yerkes Observatory. The father twice considered endowing a chair of astronomy so that George might do research and teach. He also sent his son and wife, Evalina C. Hale, abroad so that George might confer with foreign scientists. There are 18 letters, 1881-1918, from George E. Hale, some as early as 1904 from Pasadena, California. The largest group of Hale family letters is from Martha Davis (Hale) Harts. She wrote 83 letters, 1881-1917, some of the most interesting while she was on a family trip abroad (Egypt and Europe) in 1896 and later as wife of an Army engineer in the West and in the Philippine Islands.

Some of Dr. Williams' voluminous writings have survived in manuscript. There are essays, lectures, descriptions of his travels, speeches, book reviews, and some of his later sermons (76 items, 1889-1915). This collection contains manuscripts of neither of his books, Christian Life in Germany as Seen in the State and the Church (1897) or Life of Dr. D. K. Pearsons, Philanthropist (1911). He lectured a great deal and wrote extensively for prominent religious journals and for other magazines, such as Popular Science Monthly. Clippings from Dr. Williams' column "At the West" written for The Congregationalist under the pen name, "Franklin", are preserved in scrapbooks for the years 1887-88 and 1893-1908. (The name of this periodical was changed about 1907 to The Congregationalist and Christian World.) All of his columns are not represented in these manuscripts, as Williams was already writing for The Congregationalist on a regular basis by 1880. Not only does he report development among churches and missions of the Midwestern states and the western states, but he also comments upon news and personalities of the day.

Dr. Williams carried on an extensive correspondence, and besides family members and institutions already mentioned, principal correspondents include John Jackson Abbott (d. 1878), James Levi Barton, Charles Albert Blanchard, Eliphalet Wickes Blatchford, Howard Allen Bridgman, Wolcott Calkins, Samuel Billings Capen, Charles Carroll Carpenter, Lewis F. Clark (d.1870), John Adams Cole, and his sister, Ellen Adams Cole, Andrew B. Cross, Albert Elijah Dunning, Edward Dwight Eaton, and his daughter, Katrina Elisabeth (Eaton) Hincks (the wife of Henry W. Hincks), William T. Elsing, Franklin Woodbury Fisk, the Gaylord family of Massachusetts, Edward P. Goodwin, the Hale family of Chicago as mentioned above, Horace Carter Hovey, Charles Weston Jenkins, Frank T. Lee, George N. Marden, William Augustus Mowry, the Nettlebeck family of Germany, Frederick Alfonso Noble, and his son, Frederic Perry Noble, Daniel Kimball Pearsons, William Frederick Poole, Joseph Edwin Roy, George S. F. Savage, Edward Parmalee Smith, Simon Peter Smith (d. 1914?), Martin Luther Stoever, George Straith, John Henry Wilburn Stuckenberg, Edward Allen Tanner, the Whitin family of Massachusetts, M. K. Whittlesey, Henry Mitchell Whitney, and his brother, James Lyman Whitney.

Biographical Note

Edward Franklin Williams was a Congregational minister, educator, field agent for the United States Christian Commission, missionary, and writer.  Edward Franklin Williams was born in Massachusetts in 1832, the son of Delilah Morse Williams and George Williams. Williams attended Yale University from 1852 to 1856, and he continued to earn an advanced degree from Yale. He later attended the Princeton Theological Seminary, where he graduated and earned his license to preach in 1861.

Williams was exempt from the draft due to a tubercular condition in his lungs, and thus he did not fight in the Civil War. In April 1863, Williams received a commission as a field agent for the United States Christian Commission. With the Commission, he served two and a half years in the armies of the Potomac and the James.

After the war, Williams was sent as principal to begin was became the Lookout Mountain Educational Institutions in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 1867, Williams was appointed by the American Missionary Association to teach in the Normal and Preparatory Division of what was later Howard University. He left Howard to preach at several churches in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York, ultimately serving as pastor of Tabernacle Church in Chicago and Forty-Seventh Street Congregational Church, which later became South Congregational Church, in suburban Chicago, where he served until 1891.

By 1880, Williams was writing a monthly column for The Congregationalist under a pen name, "Franklin." He continued writing for this publication until 1908. He continued as a prolific writer, particularly in the 1890s.

From 1901 to 1911 Williams served as pastor of the Evanston Ave. Congregational Church in Chicago. Williams died in 1919 in Chicago.

Subject/Index Terms

American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
American Home Missionary Society
American Missionary Association
Chicago Theological Seminary
Hale, George Ellery, 1868-1938
Howard University
Pearsons, D. K. (Daniel Kimball), 1820-1912
Philanthropy and education - United States - 19th century
United States Christian Commission

Administrative Information

Repository: Amistad Research Center

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Any copyrights such as the donor may possess in this property are hereby dedicated to the public. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Acquisition Source: Chicago Theological Seminary

Acquisition Method: Gift

Appraisal Information: The papers of Edward Franklin Williams consist largely of correspondence, and documents his work in missionary education and ministry with the United States Christian Commission, the American Missionary Association, and several other organizations. This collection also features correspondence with several early educational philanthropists, including Daniel Kimball Pearsons.

Related Materials: The Center houses other collections pertaining to 19th century Congregationalism, the American Missionary Association archives and the American Home Missionary Society archives. The former collection contains several letters from Williams.

Preferred Citation: Edward Franklin Williams papers, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

Processing Information: Collection processed in 1971 and 1973.


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Item 1: Scrapbook: "At the West," "From the Interior," and "From Chicago" columns for The Congregationalist, 1897-1901Add to your cart.
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