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Waterman family papers

Call Number: MS 793
Scope and Contents

Papers of four generations of the Nehemiah Waterman family of Connecticut make up this collection. Details of the family's genealogy may be found in The Waterman Family by Donald Lines Jacobus. The materials are arranged by family member, followed by general family correspondence and a miscellany of items not attributable to a specific family member.

The oldest items in the collection are a daybook and a writ of Nehemiah Waterman (1736-1802). The daybook contains records of meetings, deaths and marriages in Norwich, Connecticut, between 1757 and 1789, notes about the weather, family records and similar matters, and Waterman's records as Justice of the Peace for New London County, 1788-1789.

The papers of Nehemiah's son Elijah Waterman (1769-1825) are composed primarily of correspondence and writings. His correspondence consists of letters from fellow ministers with originals and copies of Waterman's letters to ministers and to his publisher. The letters written before 1810 are mainly from a few close acquaintances, while the later correspondence includes many letters from strangers interested in Waterman's work on John Calvin. A list of select correspondents follows the folder list. Waterman's writings include several lectures and addresses, "Memoirs of the Life and Writings of John Calvin," approximately 125 sermons, and short histories of several Connecticut towns. Other papers are the sermon preached by James Dana (1735-1812) at Waterman's ordination, a small assortment of estate papers, and notes on Waterman's life by his son Thomas Tileston Waterman (1801-1873).

Thomas Tileston Waterman's papers also largely consist of professional correspondence and writings. While most of the correspondence concerns his services as minister to various parishes, there are also letters from a number of temperance and moral reform societies. Among his writings are several hundred sermons and an assortment of other religious addresses and publications, including several lectures delivered at Yale College in 1821. Thomas Tileston Waterman's papers also incorporate a notebook containing genealogical notes along with minutes of the Providence (Rhode Island) Association of the Friends of Moral Reform, a few legal and financial papers, anonymous "Recollections of the Ministry of Rev. Thomas T. Waterman with the Richmond St. Church," and printed matter dealing with religion and moral reform.

Journals for the years 1848-1880 make up the bulk of the papers of Delia (Storrs) Waterman (1806-1881), wife of Thomas Tileston Waterman. These journals contain short essays and meditations on religion and history, some household accounts, and notes about Thomas Tileston Waterman's life, as well as diary entries which narrate Delia Waterman's travels about the country with her husband to his parishes in Illinois, Minnesota, and New England, and descriptions of her life, the raising of her children, and the recurrent illnesses and the deaths of family members and friends. Other papers include Delia Waterman's record book for 1825, a short record of her correspondence for 1878-1879, an account book and other financial papers, and several short writings. Estate papers of Zalmon Storrs, Delia Waterman's brother, are also present (see Box 10, Folder 85).

Thomas and Delia Waterman's son Thomas Storrs Waterman (1828-1913) is represented by five scrapbooks filled largely with handwritten notes and sequences of newspaper clippings and other printed matter on politics, religion, and history arranged by subject. There are also a few loose printed items and some notes by Thomas Storrs Waterman.

The Waterman family correspondence, arranged chronologically, consists mainly of letters exchanged between members of the Waterman family and of the related Southworth and Storrs families, but there are also a few professional letters of Thomas Storrs Waterman and Alfred Tileston Waterman (1832-1909). Enclosed in a letter of 1908 Mar 19 is an essay by the latter, "The Infinite in Human Education and Development."

The majority of the family letters are exchanged among Thomas Tileston Waterman, Delia (Storrs) Waterman, and their children, and describe the travels of Thomas Tileston Waterman and his sons, their careers, and their families. Of particular interest are two letters dating from the Civil War, one from Edwin Southworth Waterman (1845-1925) describing anti-draft riots in New York City (1863 Jul 18), and another from George Isham Waterman (1834-1884) while serving with the Army of the Cumberland in Georgia (1864 Jun 16). The Waterman family was deeply religious, as might be expected with three successive generations of ministers, and the letters are much concerned with questions of faith and the comforts of religion in times of bereavement.

The remaining papers in this collection include a sermon, journal fragments and other writings by unidentified Waterman family members, family financial papers, recipes, genealogical papers, seven photographs of family and friends, memorabilia such as locks of hair and pressed flowers, and an assortment of pamphlets, periodicals, newspaper clippings, and other printed matter dealing with political, moral, and religious issues, as well as with family members.

The Waterman Family Papers were donated to Yale University in two gifts by Mrs. Howard F. Reed in 1977 and 1981.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown, though much of the material in this collection is likely in the public domain. 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 Mrs. Howard F. Reed, 1977 and 1981; and Fay C. Kaynor, 1990 and 1994.


Arranged alphabetically by name of family member.

Majority of material found within 1757 - 1911
5.75 Linear Feet (13 boxes)
Related Names
Waterman family
Language of Materials