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Edwards family papers

Call Number: MS 191
Scope and Contents

The Edwards Family Papers consist of letters, a diary, financial and numismatic material, genealogical notes, and miscellaneous papers of Jonathan Edwards, Sr. (1798-1875), Maria (Champion) Edwards (d.1867), Jonathan Edwards, Jr. (l841-1886), and their Edwards and Champion relations.

Jonathan Edwards (1798-1875), a prominent upper New York State politician, was defeated as a Whig candidate for Secretary of New York State but elected Mayor of Troy in 1838. In 1837 he married Maria Champion of Colchester, Connecticut, and thus acquired for a brother-in-law the Reverend George Champion, one of the first missionaries to the Zulus. The Edwards' only child, Jonathan Edwards, Jr. (1841-1886), graduated from Yale in 1863, proceeded to obtain a medical degree only to be called home to tend his declining father, a guardianship which prevented the resumption of his profession. In 1875 he removed to New Haven where he devoted much time to the College's numismatic collection. Largely at his own expense he edited and published the Catalogue of Greek and Roman Coins.

The bulk of the letters in this collection are exchanges between the elder Jonathan Edwards, his wife, and their son, pertaining primarily to their frets - "Today I am afflicted with a cold" - and joys - "Your chirography has certainly improved." Rather than focusing on the specifics of political life, they convey a sense of endurance in the face of hardship: death, fire, and business failure. Spotted throughout the collection are insights into community life: the Know-Nothings (1854 Nov 8, Dec 27), the risk of business in New York (1841 Feb 9, Apr 1), religious conversions (1838 Aug 24), appropriation of wartime rhetoric by temperance advocates (1861 Feb 22, May 10). Letters from the engineer, Albert Hamilton Emery (1834-1926), give carefully detailed descriptions of his new inventions for the cannon (1861 Jul 22, 1862 Jul 30); and a letter from Jeremiah Clemens (1814-1865), senator from Alabama, concerns his desire to redress Aaron Burr's unfavorable reputation resulting from his involvement in setting up another government in the Southwest. Letters from George Champion (1810-41) describe conditions in Natal in 1838, shortly after the Zulu chief Dingaan had killed the Boer leader Piet Retief and begun his effort to wipe out the rest of the Boers as well.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Jonathan Edwards, 1962. Transferred from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 2014.

5.25 Linear Feet (9 boxes, 1 half archive box)
Related Names
Edwards family
Language of Materials