Skip to main content

Benjamin Trumbull papers

Call Number: MS 505
Scope and Contents

The papers contain correspondence, bills and receipts, sermons, church papers, writings, and miscellanea documenting the personal life, religious career, and literary work of Benjamin Trumbull and his family. Sermons include material on a wide range of religious, historical, political, and social topics. Correspondence and other papers include material relating to Trumbull's family life, student years, religious responsibilities, and writings on Connecticut history, divorce, and land settlement. Information on the town of North Haven, Connecticut and the New England region is also included in the papers.

The Trumbull papers were willed to Yale University upon Benjamin Trumbull's death, and in 1936 Walter Wetmore Holmes made a significant addition to the papers. Other materials have been added through purchase. The papers are arranged in three series: I. Correspondence and Papers, 1629-1867; II. Sermons, 1758-1820; III. Personal Papers, 1724-1834.

SERIES I, CORRESPONDENCE AND PAPERS, 1629-1901, contains the correspondence of Benjamin Trumbull and other family members arranged in chronological order. The series also contains notes, student compositions and notebooks, diary entries, minutes of town meetings, church records, legal, financial, and military documents, manuscripts, wills and other papers. SERIES III, PERSONAL PAPERS, 1724-1834, also contains this type of material. Student materials include account books (folders 3 and 5) and a diary (folder 5). A small quantity of material documents Trumbull's military career (folders 22-24) and includes an account book and mileage role of a company of volunteers in 1777.

Material documenting Trumbull's religious career in North Haven, Connecticut and the work of the Congregational Church in Connecticut and Massachusetts is also organized in this series. SERIES II and III contain additional files on these subjects. Documents relating to the North Haven church include correspondence with parishioners, a diary of pastoral visits (folder 31), and a will of property to the church (folder 2). Items relating to the town of North Haven include summonses, licenses, warrants, deeds, indentures, bills, receipts, and other papers. Minutes of a 1771 town meeting (folder 17) and legal documents of Justus Bishop, Trumbull's son-in-law and a justice of the peace, are found in box three.

Additional papers in this series include a diary of Nathan Porter, 1806-1841 (folder 45), political correspondence of Chauncey Fitch Cleveland, 1835-1837 (folder 56), accounts and papers of Samuel Gray (folders 27-28; 66), an account book and memoranda of Denison Olmsted (folder 68), items relating to Daniel Pierpont's patent for a butter churn (folder 46), and statistics relating to the population of North Haven (folders 61, 67).

SERIES II, SERMONS, 1758-1820, contains a chronological arrangement of Trumbull's sermons. Isolated sermons are missing from the numbered run of material, and additional sermons are organized in SERIES III, box 28. Trumbull's copies of sermons by other ministers and notes on their sermons are arranged in SERIES III, box 26.

SERIES III, PERSONAL PAPERS, 1724-1834, contains a variety of financial documents, church-related materials, writings, and other items similar to material found in SERIES I. Trumbull's notes on sermons he attended at Yale College chapel meetings (folders 158-163, 165), papers relating to his ministry in North Haven, drafts of religious and historical writings, and other papers are arranged in this series. Files arranged under the heading "Church papers" include materials documenting the activities of many area churches (folder 129), complaints lodged against local ministers (folder 130-134), Trumbull's interest in liquor licenses (folder 136), and his historical research. Other files contain papers relating to North Haven communicants (folder 144), minutes of the General Association of the State of Connecticut (folder 145), and printed material for various church organizations.

Confessions of church members, which record public statements of sorrow for such sins as neglect of public worship, use of strong liquor, bearing false witness, and fornication (folders 149-155) provide an interesting glimpse of Trumbull's parishioners.

Benjamin Trumbull's historical writing on Connecticut and the United States is documented through drafts of his writings, research notes, and financial records relating to publication. Manuscript versions of his work on divorce (1785), the history of Connecticut (1796-1797), and land titles in Connecticut (1774) are arranged in this series.

Accession 2011-M-077 contains one manuscript by Trumbull which chronicles the Indian Wars in Connecticut written in 1767.

Additional Trumbull Papers are housed at the Beinecke Rare Book Library.

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 Walter Wetmore Holmes, 1936-1937, and subsequent purchases.


Arranged in three series and one accession: I. Correspondence and Papers, 1629-1867. II. Sermons, 1758-1820. III. Personal Papers, 1724-1834.

15.75 Linear Feet (29 boxes)
Related Names
Trumbull, Benjamin, 1735-1820
Language of Materials