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Walker Family papers

Call Number: WA MSS 501

Scope and Contents

The Walker Family Papers (WA MSS 501) consist of drafts or copies of letters written by Elkanah Walker during the years 1839-54. Many of the letters are unsigned and unfinished. The collection also includes letters written to Elkanah and Mary Richardson Walker and a number of family papers. Among the papers is a typewritten copy of a diary of Mary Richardson Walker, covering the period June 10-December 31, 1838, as well as material concerning the Columbia Maternal Association. The latter consists of the Association's Constitution and minutes for the period September 3, 1838-June, 1842. The Constitution is written in a careful, copperplate hand, possibly Mary Richardson Walker's, and is evidently the Constitution as drawn up at the first meeting, when Mrs. Spalding was elected president, Mrs. Walker vice-president, and Mrs. Gray recording secretary. It is followed by the minutes of the first meeting, September 3, 1838, in Mrs. Walker's hand, and the records of the meetings she attended through August 26, 1840, and an account of the general meeting of June, 1842.

The manuscripts cover the foundation and history of the Oregon Mission; the relations with other religious denominations; the overland emigrations; the administration of Indian affairs and work among the Indians; Marcus Whitman and the purpose of his journey of 1843—1844; the Whitman Massacre, 1847; the establishment of the Lapwai Press; and the final settlement of the Territory.

In all, there are 576 pages in the Walker Family Papers.


  • 1839 - 1854


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Walker Family papers collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.


1 boxes

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

Elkanah Walker, 1805-1877

The Rev. Elkanah Walker and Cushing Eells, with their wives, were sent to Oregon in 1838 by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to reinforce the Mission established in 1836 by Dr. Marcus Whitman, the Rev. H. H. Spalding and their wives, and W. H. Gray. They were joined in New York by the Rev. and Mrs. Asa Bowen Smith, and in Cincinnati by Cornelius Rogers, and reached Waiilatpu August 29.

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 [as they are acquired], and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

This finding aid, created before the advent of computer-generated files, has been converted into a ASCII data file by means of scanning and Optical Character Recognition software. While attempts have been made to retain the complete information from the original document a number of format changes have been made to present the structure of this archive in accordance with current practice.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Walker Family Papers
In Progress
by 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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Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.