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Palmer family papers

Call Number: MS 383

Scope and Contents

The Palmer Family Papers consist mainly of correspondence and writings of Ray Palmer and writings of his son, Charles Ray Palmer. The correspondence of Ray Palmer, spanning from 1825 to 1886, has three major components: letters exchanged with his brother, Julius A. Palmer; letters sent to Mark Hopkins, president of Williams College; and letters received from ministers, theologians, and hymnwriters. The writings of Ray Palmer are sermons, hymns and poems, diaries, a memoir, and a few miscellaneous items. The writings of Charles Ray Palmer are sermons, student essays and lecture notes, poems, and essays on church history.

The Palmer Family Papers include material donated by Mrs. Arthur E. Foote that was transferred to this department from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in November 1979. These items, all of which are related to Ray Palmer's hymn, "My Faith Looks Up to Thee," are in Box 7.


  • 1825-1914


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Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain.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 Arthur E. Foote.


4 Linear Feet (10 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers of Ray Palmer (1808-1887) and his son Charles Ray Palmer (1834-1914), both clergymen. The Ray Palmer papers consist of correspondence, two letterbooks, sermons, hymns and poems, diaries, a memoir, and other materials. The letterbooks contain correspondence from ministers and a few public officials. In the Charles Ray Palmer papers are essays, poems, notes on lectures given at Andover Theological Seminary by Edwards A. Park, sermons, writings and miscellaneous papers.

Biographical / Historical

RAY PALMER, 1808-1887

RAY PALMER was the fourth child and third son of the Hon. Thomas and Susanna (Palmer) Palmer, of Little Compton, R. I., where he was born November 12, 1808. It was intended that he should pursue a commercial career, and therefore he was sent at the age of 13 to Boston to begin a clerkship in a large business house, while at the same time completing his education. By the age of 15, he had decided that he wished to prepare for college, and he was then sent, accordingly, to Phillips Academy, Andover.

On leaving college he taught for a year in a private school for young ladies in New York City, and then returned to New Haven, where --at first in connection with Dr. E. A. Andrews (Yale, 1810), and later as sole proprietor--he conducted the Young Ladies' Institute, in Wooster Place. In the meantime he was married, October 3, 1832, to Ann Maria, daughter of the late Marmaduke Waud, a merchant of Albany, of English birth. He also prosecuted theological studies while in New Haven, and on disposing of his school, in the fall of 1834, removed to Boston, and began to preach. In 1835 he accepted a call to a new church (now called the Central Church), in Bath, Maine, over which he was ordained on the 22d of July. Fifteen years of earnest, practical labor followed, after which rest and change of scene were needed, and on December 10, 1850, he was installed as the first pastor of the newly-formed First Congregational Church in Albany, N. Y. Here he continued for fifteen most fruitful years of labor, until April 18, 1866, when he was dismissed to accept the secretaryship of the American Congregational Union, in New York City. Here he served the churches for twelve years, or until May 1, 1878, during which time more than 600 churches were erected by the aid of this society. As the salary was insufficient, he was stimulated to a good deal of literary labor during this period. In May, 1870, he removed his residence to Newark, N. J., where he spent the rest of his life. On retiring from the service of the Congregational Union, he devoted himself to literary work almost exclusively. In November 1881, he became acting pastor (Dr. Hopworth having the care of the pulpit) of the Belleville Avenue Congregational Church in Newark, and this arrangement continued for three years.

On February 12, 1883, he had an attack of apoplexy, and was partially paralyzed. He rallied, however, and showed afterwards considerable vigor of mind and body. His infirmities increased with years, and on February 6, 1886, he suffered from a second attack, from which he rallied surprisingly; but on February 20, 1887, a third attack came, and on March 22 a rapid degeneration of the brain began. He died March 29, 1887, in his 79th year.

His wife died March 8, 1886; of their ten children, one son (Yale, 1855) and two daughters are still living.

He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Union College in 1852. From 1865 to 1878 he was a member of the Board of Visitors of Andover Seminary. He wrote extensively for the quarterlies, and for the literary and religious press generally. He published six or seven volumes in prose, besides numerous discourses, and three or four volumes of hymns and other poems; a complete edition of his poetical works is soon to be issued. He is known the world over as the author of the hymn, My faith looks up to Thee.

Through his life Dr. Palmer used the fine powers with which he was endowed with untiring industry; his buoyant and cheerful temperament and growing faith sustained him to the end under the pressure of sorrow and infirmity.

Yale Obituary Record, 1887. pp. 361-362.


CHARLES RAY PALMER, son of Rev. Ray Palmer, D.D. (B.A. Yale 1830), author of "My Faith looks up to Thee," was born May 2, 1834, in New Haven, Conn., where his father was teaching in, and was later principal of the Young Ladies' Institute of Professor Ethan A. Andrews (B.A. Yale 1810) on Wooster Place. His mother was Ann Maria, daughter of Marmaduke Waud, a merchant of Albany, N. Y., of English birth. During his boyhood his father was pastor in Bath, Me., and he was prepared for college at Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass. He entered college from Albany, N.Y., where in 1850 his father had become pastor of the First Congregational Church.

After graduation he was tutor in a private family at Rodney, Miss., a year, and then took the course in Andover Theological Seminary, graduating there in 1859. From October of that year until the following March he was a resident licentiate at Andover. After a few months at Albany he was ordained August 29, 1860, pastor of the Tabernacle Congregational Church in Salem, Mass. He continued at Salem until 1872, when he resigned to accept a call to the First Congregational Church in Bridgeport, Conn. After a pastorate of twenty-three years there, and at the close of the Bicentennial Anniversary of the church, he resigned and since then had been pastor emeritus of the church. For some months in 1897 he supplied the Kensington Congregational Church in London, England.

From 1880 until his resignation in 1910, he was a Fellow of the Corporation of Yale University, and from 1885 of its Prudential Committee.

He was for many years chairman of the prudential committee of the General Hospital Society of Connecticut in New Haven. From 1864 to 1881 he was a director and for some years secretary of the Society for the Promotion of Collegiate and Theological Education, and from 1871 to 1901 was a corporate member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. In December, 1882, he was elected an associate member of the Victoria Institute of Christian Philosophy, London. Previous to 1872 he was a trustee of Dummer Academy at Byfield, Mass, and from 1879 to 1882 of Talladega (Ala.) College. He was deeply interested in the Burroughs Home for Women in Bridgeport and was for a time its secretary.

He served as a delegate of Yale University and the National Council of Congregational Churches of the United States at the formal opening of Mansfield College, the Congregational College of Oxford, England, in October, 1889, and also preached at the College, his sermon on "Preaching Christ to Men" being printed. During his absence abroad the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by Yale University. Under the auspices of the National Congregational Council he delivered an oration at the unveiling of the memorial tablet in Leyden, Holland, to John Robinson, July 24, 1891. A paper of his entitled, "The Pilgrim Fathers and What They Wrought," was published by the Fairfield County Historical Society. "The Pilgrim Fathers" was published by the Congregational Union of England and Wales, London, 1893. At the Bicentennial Celebration of the First Congregational Church and Society of Bridgeport, Conn., in June, 1895, he gave the Historical Discourse, afterwards published. He was president of the Connecticut Branch of the Egyptian Exploration Fund, and a director of the New Haven Colony Historical Society, to which he contributed a number of papers

Dr. Palmer died of cerebral hemorrhage at his home in New Haven, April 22, 1914, in the 80th year of his age. He was buried in the Albany (N. Y.) Rural Cemetery.

He married, in Brooklyn, N. Y., February 10, 1869, Mary Chapin Barnes, eldest daughter and second of the ten children of Alfred Smith Barnes, the publisher, and Harriet (Burr) Barnes, and sister of Henry Burr Barnes (B.A. Yale 1866) and William DeLuce Barnes (B.A. Yale 1880). Mrs. Palmer died April 24, 1888, but a daughter, who is the wife of Arthur Ellsworth Foote (B.A. Yale 1896), survives him. Him only son died in his Senior year in college, but was enrolled with his Class of 1892. In his memory Dr. Palmer established the Alfred Barnes Palmer Scholarship. A sister, with whom Dr. Palmer made his home, is the last survivor of their father's ten children.

Yale Obituary Record, 1910-1915. pp. 550-552.

Guide to the Palmer Family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Susan Grigg
December 1979
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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