What are some of the sources for learning about the early history of Harvard Divinity School?

Some of these items are noted as available in APS Online = American Periodical Series Online [Harvard ID & PIN required] and/or in Google Books

Kohr, Russell Vernon. Early History and Influence of Harvard College's Hollis Professorship of Divinity: (The First Endowed Professorial Chair in America). 1981. [Mfiche 481; LD2137. K63 1983]

Kohr's 1981 M.A. thesis, Western Michigan University.

Jensen, Timothy Ward. The Wares: Three Generations of American Unitarians. 2001. [BX9869.W3 J46 2001]

Jensen's 2001 Ph.D. thesis (University of Oregon) includes discussion of the formation of Harvard Divinity School and the role of the Ware family in its history.

"Theological Institution at Cambridge." General Repository and Review, v. 1 (1812), pp. 209-210. [Mflm. Period. 4848; in Google Book; APS Online]

The notice that the resident graduates studying theology at Harvard beginning in the 1811-1812 academic year are now being supervised.

Palfrey, John Gorham. Divinity School of the University of Cambridge. Cambridge, Mass. Cambridge Press, Metcalf, Torry, and Ballou, 1836. [Pamph. BV 4022. Z91; R.B.R. BV4070.H442 D59 1836]

This is the first history of the Divinity School and lists those who had attended. The copy in R.B.R. has a handwritten copy of Dr. Palfrey's corrections as to names dated 16 July 1840.

Channing, William Ellery. Observations on the Proposition for Increasing the Means of Theological Education at the University in Cambridge. Cambridge: Hilliard & Metcalf, 1815. [R. B. R. tract BV4033. H27 H3 1815; Tracts 566 no. 3; Pamph. v. 234; re-printed in 1816: Safe 870. 55 no. 10; Tracts 318 no. 8]

Channing's plea for the need for educated ministers and for theological education at Harvard was used as the preface for a plea for contributions and subscriptions for membership in a Society for the Promotion of Theological Education at Harvard University.

Society for the Promotion of Theological Education at Harvard University. An Account of the "Society for the Promotion of Theological Education in Harvard University" formed in Boston, July 17, 1816 : with the constitution, rules &c. Boston : Printed by John Eliot, 1816. [R.B.R. tract BV4019.S62 S62 1816; Tracts 252 no. 6]

Society for Promoting Theological Education. Historical Sketch, Act of Incorporation, Devise, Decree of Court, By-laws, Officers, and Lists of Members. Brookline: Riverdale Press, C. A. W. Spencer, 1898. [Pamph. v. 249; Pamph. BV4022.Z91] Updated in 1940 [Pamph. BV4022.Z91; Pamph. v. 383]

The Society for the Promotion of Theological Education at Harvard University was founded in 1816 and governed the Harvard Divinity School through a board of members of the Corporation and five trustees of the Society. From 1824 to 1830 the Board oversaw finances. Another board, the Board of Directors, was responsible for administration of the Divinity School. After 1830, the Divinity School faculty assumed direction of the School. The Society as originally constituted dissolved in 1830 and was replaced by the Society for Promoting Theological Education.

The library has four archival collections of the Society:

The University Archives also has an archival collection (HOLLIS #603974):

  • UAV 327.2 Trustees records: includes original minutes, Aug.1816-Nov. 1827 and fair copy, Aug. 1816-Sept. 24, 1829
  • UAV 327.3f Trustees papers, bound in 2 v. with a calendar at the back of each: v.1 (1816-1830) and v.2 (1788-1836)
  • UAV 327.283 hd Subscriptions receipts, 1819-1823
  • UAV 327.294.2 hd Wills papers: extract from the will of J.D. Williams, n.d. 
  • UAV 327.353 hd Memo of F.E. Parker, President, regarding claim against Corporation, 1853
  • UAV 327.187.2 Treasurer reports of J.G. Palfrey, 1843-1844
  • UAV 327.207.2 hd Beneficiary funds: list of beneficiaries, 1824-1830
  • UAV 327.207.3 hd Beneficiary funds: receipts for aid, July 1826-Aug.1829
  • UAV 327.271.2 hd Professorship records: subscriptions for Professorship of Pulpit Eloquence and Pastoral Care, 1828

These collections also contain other printed material. The copy of the 1898 Historical Sketch in Pamph. v. 249 has a p. 24 added with memorial inscriptions that were on tables in the Harvard Divinity School Library (now Farlow Herbarium).

Constitution and Rules of the Theological Seminary of the University in Cambridge, printed at the beginning of: Norton, Andrews. Inaugural Discourse: Delivered before the University in Cambridge, August 10, 1819. Cambridge: Printed by Hilliard and Metcalf, at the University press; Sold also by Cummings & Hilliard, 1819. [Pamph. BV 4025.Z91; Tracts 235 no. 6; Tracts 318 no. 1; Tracts 566 no. 16; Tracts 612 no. 2].

Federal Street Society for Benevolent Purposes. Report of the Committee of the Association of the Members of the Federal Street Society for Benevolent Purposes, on the Application of the Directors of the Theological School in Cambridge. Cambridge : Printed by Hilliard and Metcalf, 1825. [Pamph. BX9861.Z95]

An examination of the financial condition of the school and a resolution to solicit funds for the erection of Divinity Hall.

West Church (Boston, Mass.) Report of the Committee of the West Parish Association on the State of Religion. Accepted October 10, 1825. Boston : Isaac R. Butts, 1825. [Harvard Depository Brittle Book BX9843 .B3 v. 4]

The report examines the financial condition of the Theological School at Cambridge and recommends that the Association help in raising funds to aid the theological education at Harvard.

Channing, William Ellery. "Discourse Delivered at the Dedication of Divinity Hall, Cambridge, 1826." Pp. 483-511 of his Discourses, Reviews, and Miscellanies. Boston: Carter & Hendee, 1830 [R.B.R. BX9815.C45 1830; in Google Book]. Also published: Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1830 [BX9815.C45 1830b]. 

Channing's discourse, based on the text "His word was with power' (Luke 4:32), declares that "this edifice is dedicated to the training of ministers, whose word, like their master's, shall be 'with power,' ... that strong action of the understanding, conscience, and heart, on moral and religious truth, through which the preacher is quickened and qualified to awaken the same strong actions in others."

Greenwood, F. W. P.  The Theology of the Cambridge Divinity School. . . . Boston, Gray and Bowen, 1830. (American Unitarian Association. Tracts, 1st ser. , v. 3, no. 32) [Sprague Pamph. G; Tracts 575 no. 13]. In Google Book 

Greenwood's speech and plea for funding to the Society for the Promotion of Theological Education at Harvard University describes the Divinity School's theology as being liberal (that is, "a free and generous theology"), serious and practical, and charitable. The last two pages give a brief  description of the school in 1829/1830 academic year.

Codman, John. Dr. Codman's Speech in the Board of Overseers of Harvard College, Feb. 3, 1831. [Boston, Mass.: Pierce & Parker, 1831?] [Sprague Pamph. C; S.C.R. LD2111.R465 1824 no. 10; Tracts 58 no. 19]

The reorganization of 1830 revived the controversy between the orthodox and Unitarians. On Feb. 3, 1831, a committee of the Board of Overseers (consisting of Dr. William Spooner, the Rev. John Codman, and the Rev. James Walker) appointed to review the statutes reported that a majority of the committee were in favor of "recommending a concurrence with the proceedings of the Corporation." Codman, who sided with the orthodox, dissented from the report, claiming that the school was Unitarian and, therefore, sectarian and not proper to be part of a state-supported university. He also objected that the head of the school was to be the President of the University, a layman, and that the school would have too great an influence on the rest of the University. Walker replied in an article in The Christian Examiner (v. 10, ns., v.5, no. 1, Mar. 1831, pp. 129-136 [Mflm. Period. 4236]) that, by questioning the validity of the school, Codman had missed the whole point of the review. Codman's other objections were countered in the next issue of The Christian Examiner (no. 44, n.s., no. 14, May 1831, pp. 137-160 [Mflm. Period. 4236]): that the faculty was Unitarian could not be denied, but "men are eligible as Professors, whatever may be the peculiarities of their opinion; and the pupils are free to examine and decide for themselves, as to the tenets they shall receive and admit as true."

Palfrey, John Gorham. An Address Delivered before the Society for Promoting Theological Education, June 5, 1831. Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1831. [R.B.R. BX9843.P28 R44 1820; Sprague Pamph. P]

Palfrey's speech and plea for funding deals with the following questions: 1. Why should ministers be educated at all? 2. If educated, why at a public institution? 3. If at a public institution, why at Harvard University? 4. If at Harvard University, why at the public expense? It also includes some information about the state of the school in 1831. The content appeared also in The Christian Examiner (v. 44, n.s., no 16, Sept. 1831, pp. 84-99). [Mflm. Period. 4236; APS Online]

Other articles in The Christian Disciple [Mflm. Period. 318.5; also in Google Book and APS Online] about the Harvard Divinity School in the early period include:

  • "On the Requisite Qualifications of a Theological Instructor." v. 2, no 3 (Mar. 1814), p. 68-72.
  • "Theological Education in Cambridge University." v. 4, no. 1 (Jan. 1816), p. 23-30. A reprint of Channing's Observations 1815 work with a list of persons appointed by the Corporation "who would most conveniently cooperate in this interesting work."
  • "[Meeting of] the Society for the Promotion of Theological Education in Harvard University." v. 5, no. 9 (Sept. 1817), p. 286.
  • "Theological Education in Harvard University" [report of Aug. 24 meeting of the SPTE]. n.s., no. 4 (July/Aug. 1819) = no. 72, p. 333-335.
  • [Report of the Annual Visitation, Nov. 17]. n.s., v. 1, no. 6 (Nov./Dec. 1819) = no. 74, p. 485-86.
  • "[Meeting of] the Society for Promoting Theological Education at Harvard College" [Aug. 29, 1820] n.s., v. 2, (July/Aug. 1820) = no. 10, p. 336.
  • [Report of the Annual Visitation, July 15]. n.s., v. 3 (July/Aug. 1821) = no. 16, p. 316-317.
  • "[Meeting of the] Society for promoting Theological Education in Harvard University." n.s., v. 3 (July/Aug. 1821) = no. 16, p. 317.
  • [Report of the Annual Visitation, Aug.? 15]. n.s., v. 3 (Sept./Oct. 1821) = no. 17, p. 394-395.
  • "Theological Institution at Cambridge." n.s., no. 20 (Mar./April 1822), p. 145-152.
  • "Cambridge Theological School." n.s., no. 21 (May/June 1822), p. 216-217.
  • [Report of the Annual Examination]. n.s., no. 22 (July/Aug. 1822), p. 311-312.

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