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Andover Newton Theological Seminary collection of Jonathan Edwards

Call Number: GEN MSS 1542

Content Description

The papers consist of writings and correspondence of and about theologian Jonathan Edwards and his family that were held by the Andover Newton Theological Seminary from the mid-nineteenth century until 2017. The collection includes sermons and other writings by Edwards, his correspondence with contemporaries, family correspondence including letters among Edwards, his wife and their children, his sisters, and his parents, and other family papers, including sermons by his father-in-law James Pierpont, who is regarded as one of the founders of Yale College. A few of the letters and other items are written on the versos of printed broadsides. The papers also include editorial work carried out by Edwards’s descendants, including grandson Yale President Timothy Dwight and his sons Sereno E. Dwight and William T. Dwight, including manuscript copies of Edwards’s writings chiefly made by Sereno E. Dwight, and correspondence among later Edwards descendants and Andover faculty members who had married into the Edwards family, as well as others, documenting further editorial projects.

Throughout the papers is evidence of the scholarship and editorial work by generations of Edwards descendants in the form of notes and descriptions accompanying many of the items, often on former enclosures that also bear a previous numbering system for the papers. Additional notes by Andover librarians and archivists and by editors of the Yale edition of Edwards’s works are also occasionally present.


  • circa 1650-2017


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Sermons in Series II may be accessed only one folder at at time.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired as part of the establishment of the Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School, 2017.


Organized into six series: I. Manuscripts, circa 1650-1764, undated. II. Sermons, 1733-1758. III. Miscellaneous Papers, 1685-1714, undated. IV. Letters Regarding Edwards Manuscripts, 1824-1903. V. Additional Edwards-Related Materials, 1714-1901. VI. Andover Newton Theological Seminary Collection File, 1957-2017.

Associated Materials

Jonathan Edwards Collection (GEN MSS 151), Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.


7.51 Linear Feet (20 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Jonathan Edwards, among the foremost theologians and philosophers of his time, was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, on October 5, 1703. He attended Yale College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1720. He returned in 1723 to receive his Master of Arts degree, and served as a tutor from 1724 to 1726. Upon leaving Yale, he succeeded his grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, as minister of the Congregationalist Church at Northampton, Massachusetts from 1726 to 1750. There he became known as an evangelical preacher and stern Calvinist, helping inspire the "Great Awakening" of the 1740s. His writings, which were widely circulated, included A Faithful Narrative, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God, Some Thoughts Concerning the Revivals, and A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections.

Edwards eventually became alienated from his Northampton congregation, and was dismissed after a protracted controversy over qualifications for church membership. In 1751 he became a missionary to the Mahican and Mohawk Indians at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and minister to the English congregation there. While at Stockbridge he continued writing treatises that expounded his theology, including Freedom of the Will, Original Sin, The Nature of True Virtue, and The End for Which God Created the World. In 1757, he accepted an offer to become the president of the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University. In March 1758 he received a smallpox innoculation which proved to be infected, and died.

For more information on Edwards's life, see George M. Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003); Perry Miller, Jonathan Edwards (New York: Sloan, 1949); Ola E. Winslow, Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758: A Biography (New York: Macmillan, 1941); and Iain H. Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography (Carlisle, Penn.: Banner of Truth, 1987). Readers should also consult The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957-ongoing) for further definitive information on Edwards's life and writings.


1.Timothy Edwards (1669-1758) m. (1694) Esther Stoddard (1672-1771)
2.-Esther Edwards (1695-1766 ) m. (1727) Samuel Hopkins
2.-Elizabeth Edwards (1697-1733 ) m. Jabez Huntington
2.-Anne Edwards (1699-1790 ) m. John Ellsworth
2.-Mary Edwards (1701-1777)
2.-Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) m. (1727) Sarah Pierpont (1710-1758)
3.---Sarah Edwards (1728-1805) m. (1750) Elihu Parsons
3.---Jerusha Edwards (1730-1747)
3.---Esther Edwards (1732-1758) m. (1752) Aaron Burr (1715-1757)
3.---Mary Edwards (1734-1807) m. (1750) Timothy Dwight (1726-1777)
4.------Timothy Dwight (1752-1817)
5.---------Sereno Edwards Dwight (1786-1850)
5.---------William Theodore Dwight (1795-1865) m. Elizabeth Bradford
6.-------------Elizabeth Bradford Dwight (1835-1904) m. Egbert C. Smyth (1829-1904)
3.---Lucy Edwards (1736-1786) m. (1764) Jahleel Woodbridge
3.---Timothy Edwards (1738-1813) m. (1760) Rhoda Ogden
4.-----William Edwards (1770-1851) m. Rebecca Tappan
5. ---------Anna Maria Edwards (1812-1893) m. Edwards A. Park (1808-1900)
3.---Susannah Edwards (1740-1802) m. Eleazer Porter
3.---Eunice Edwards (1743-1822) m. (1764) Thomas Pollock
3.---Jonathan E. Edwards (1745-1801) m. (1770) Sarah Porter
4.------Jonathan W. Edwards (1772-1831) m. Elizabeth Tryon
5.---------Tryon Edwards (1809-1894)
3.---Elizabeth Edwards (1747-1762)
3.---Pierpont Edwards (1749-1826) m. (1769) Frances Ogden
2.-Eunice Edwards (1706-1778) m. Simon Backus
2.-Abigail Edwards (1707-1764) m. William Metcalf
2.-Jerusha Edwards (1710-1729)
2.-Hannah Edwards (1713-1773) m. Seth Wetmore
3.---Lucy Wetmore (1748-1826) m. Chauncey Whittlesey
2.-Lucy Edwards (1715-1736)
2.-Martha Edwards (1718-1794) m. Moses Tuttle

Custodial History

According to a 1975 address by Ellis E. O’Neal, Jr. (the typescript of which is found in the Andover Newton Theological Seminary’s files concerning the collection, Series VI), the Jonathan Edwards papers arrived at Andover in 1865 when they were inherited by Elizabeth Bradford Dwight, wife of Professor Egbert C. Smyth. O’Neal writes:

“The story of the Edwards’ manuscripts at Andover Theological Seminary actually begins after the publication of what is commonly referred to as the Worcester edition of Edwards’ works by the Rev. Samuel Austin in 1809. President Timothy Dwight of Yale, a grandson of Edwards’, was requested by his uncles to write a new life of Edwards. Apparently it was his intention to incorporate it in a definitive edition of Edwards’ works. However, his death in 1817 prevented the completion of this project. In a presentation before the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1901, Franklin B. Dexter, Assistant Librarian of Yale College, stated that there was ‘good evidence that President Dwight’s son, Dr. Sereno E. Dwight, received from his father…an injunction to carry out the work not yet accomplished, and accordingly soon began to gather the material, securing some manuscripts by gift and copies of others… A portion of this material is believed to have been secured by Dr. Dwight at Windsor, Connecticut, the home of Edwards’ boyhood.’ (Franklin B. Dexter, ‘the Manuscripts of Jonathan Edwards,’ Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings, 2nd. Ser., 15 (1901, 1902): 3-4.)

This material constituted a part of the estate which Sereno Dwight, upon his death in 1850, left to his brother, the Rev. Dr. William T. Dwight. The latter Dwight, an eminent minister in Portland, Maine, bequeathed the papers to his daughter, Elizabeth Bradford Dwight Smyth, the wife of Professor Egbert C. Smyth. Smyth was the Brown Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Andover and also served as president of the faculty for approximately nineteen years. Mrs. Smyth died a few weeks before her husband so the papers came to Andover from the Professor’s estate.”

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

This collection remains arranged and described largely as it was received from Andover Newton Theological Seminary. It has been rehoused into standard archival containers. Fragile manuscripts in Series I, which were previously grouped together in folders by rough date span, have been rehoused into individual folders for each item. The original folder titles have been retained as headings in the list, the order of the items remains the same, and the item numbers within each grouping have been retained in the finding aid and on paper wrappers that remain with the items.

The container list from Andover Newton Theological Seminary has been reformatted with minor changes to make it compatible with Yale’s systems and standards. The original container list was created by George S. Claghorn, editor of The Letters of Jonathan Edwards, when the collection was on loan to Yale between 1957 and 1974, and was likely based on an existing arrangement of the material made prior to that time. The Claghorn list was edited and augmented by staff at Andover between 1974 and 2017. This current finding aid lists, as separate series, a file of nineteenth century correspondence about the collection (Series IV), additional material not included in the Claghorn finding aid or subsequently listed by Andover staff (Series V), and the Andover Newton Theological Seminary files about the collection (Series VI). As the original finding aid contained no contextual information, Beinecke staff also added descriptive information about Edwards and the collection contents.

The following items were not found by Beinecke staff when rehousing the collection after it was received in 2017:

--1751 Aug 7. Pynchon, Joseph. ALS to Col. Ephraim Williams and JE. With letter draft by JE to Thomas Hubbard, dated August 1751 (originally listed as 1751 item 13 in Manuscripts, now Series I).

--Dwight, Sereno E. Index to Dwight's Life of JE. 50 pp., quarto (originally listed as item 9 in Miscellaneous Papers, now Series III).

Throughout the collection on the paper enclosures from Andover are notes indicating that there exist photocopies in a separate file. This file is located in Series VI, Box 20.

Scope and content notes appearing in quotes have been transcribed from the original finding aid or from the housings or notes accompanying the items.

Guide to the Andover Newton Theological Seminary Collection of Jonathan Edwards
Beinecke Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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