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Samuel Clarke Bushnell papers

Call Number: MS 1292

Scope and Contents

The Samuel Clarke Bushnell Papers document the personal life and professional activities of Samuel Clarke Bushnell, a Yale graduate (B. A., 1874; B. D., 1877) and Congregational minister in Massachusetts and Connecticut from 1878-1930.

The Bushnell Papers consist of five volumes of reminiscences, twenty-three volumes of daily diaries, a single record book, and six scrapbooks. The scrapbooks contain printed material, clippings, photographs, correspondence, and miscellanea. Span dates for the collection are circa 1852-1930.

The Bushnell Papers provide a revealing examination of the personal and professional life of Samuel Clarke Bushnell. A wide spectrum of topics and interests are chronicled in these materials including Bushnell's childhood and family life in New Haven, Connecticut, student years at Yale University, 1870-1877, (with a particular emphasis on the school's athletic teams), a world tour in 1877-1878, marriage and family life, duties as a minister in Acushnet and Arlington, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut, and service for such organizations as the American Peace Society and the Yale Alumni Association.

Reminiscences, a five volume autobiographical discourse, is a detailed essay on the life of Samuel Clarke Bushnell. Begun in 1923, these volumes contain the insightful comments and measured thoughts of a man attempting to place his life in perspective.

Volume I covers the longest period of years, 1852-1904. Two events crucial to Bushnell's life are noted in some detail. They are his first religious experience in 1866 and the death of his mother in 1869. The latter even resulted in a second religious experience and confirmed Bushnell's resolve to enter the ministry.

The death of Bushnell's mother, Emily F. Bushnell, was a traumatic and debilitating experience. Bushnell and his mother were extremely close, and her death on January 10, 1869, when he was not yet seventeen, left him distraught. A second religious experience, however, mediated Bushnell's grief.

"... I was prostrated by her death and was lying in bed when Sereno came into my room and read to me the last chapter of the Book of Matthew,—closing with the words, "Lo, I will be with you always, even until the end of the world." And my faith took hold of these words in such a way that a calmness and courage came to me which made a man of me boythough I was.

And I said to myself at the time that if Jesus had entered the room in person and spoken these very words I could not have been more sure than I then was that God would care for me and keep me in the end.

I knew it was my mother's wish that I should become a minister and this experience confirmed me in my purpose to become one if after the necessary years of preparation I should be qualified for the task."

The majority of Bushnell's recollections of his youth center on the family—his mother, his brothers, and sister, and his father Cornelius Scranton Bushnell. The elder Bushnell was a shipbuilder, an advisor to Abraham Lincoln, and an incorporator of the Union Pacific Railroad. He was instrumental in securing financial support for the construction of the "Monitor", the famed Union warship of the Civil War.

Bushnell described his years at Yale as "the happiest years of my life." He was a popular class member, serving on many societies and elected to Skull and Bones in his senior year. Bushnell also writes fondly of his roommate and friend William S. "Bill" Halstead, the noted head surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Bushnell noted several incidents which took place during his years at Yale including an address by Horace Bushnell, the inauguration of President Noah Porter in 1871, and a case of mistaken identity involving himself, another student named Bushnell (George V.), and Professor Elias Loomis. He devoted much of his prose, and much of his spare time, to university athletic teams, particularly the rowing, baseball, and football squads. Bushnell's roles as a participant and observer are recalled with equal amounts of enthusiasm. He reports that football "...which had been decadent at Yale from 1860 to 1870 was revived in my sophomore year—1872—..." Bushnell adds that Yale was victorious in the first legitimate college game played on November 16, 1872, against Columbia University, and that he served as a judge. The following year Bushnell played a more active role:

"On Sat Oct 25 1873—in my Junior year I played on the Yale Twenty against Rutgers and kicked off the ball. Yale won 3 to 1 with Billy Halstead as Captain.

I also played in the first football game between Yale and Princeton Nov 15 1873 which we lost. A memorable incident of that game occurred when Geo Gunn and a Princeton player kicked the ball at the same instant. The ball rose about 30 feet and burst, and the crowd had to wait more than half an hour for another ball to be brought from the city"

Bushnell was later dropped from the squad, by none other than his roommate and team captain, Bill Halstead. He continued to support the team, however, and while attending the Yale Theological School Bushnell officiated as the referee in the second Yale-Harvard football game, played on November 18, 1876.

A brief description of Bushnell's years at the Yale Theological School include salutations to faculty members Timothy Dwight, Samuel Harris, George P. Fisher, George E. Day, James M. Hoppin, and Leonard Bacon. The occasion of his first sermon, entitled, "Have Faith in God," is recorded. Bushnell purchased a bible with the donations realized from this initial sermon which he delivered in Orange, Connecticut. Bushnell states that he recorded all 1067 sermons he delivered from that day forward in the bible. This bible has not survived, however.

Bushnell devoted some thirty-five pages to his world tour, begun on November 10, 1877, and ended on August 28, 1878. The urge to travel abroad before settling down to his life's work was a strong one and Bushnell welcomed the opportunity to serve as a travelling companion for a nineteen year old, Fred Munroe. Bushnell soon grew to dislike his youthful charge, but in retrospect he judged the advantages of the situation to far outweigh the disadvantages.

Bushnell's (and Munroe's) travel itinerary was a crowded one. An eleven day voyage from New York brought them to London, England. Subsequent stops on the journey included Paris, Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Cairo, Jerusalem, Bombay, Benares, Delhi, Madras, Ceylon, Java, Hong Kong, Canton, Shanghai, and San Francisco. In addition to the description supplied here, Volume I of his Diaries, entitled "Globetrotter", provides a daily record of this travel adventure.

Topics covered in the final two hundred odd pages include family life, his pastorate in Achushnet, Massachusetts, and the courtship and marriage of Bushnell and Mary Elizabeth Kendall. Several impressions of Acushnet and its residents are recorded, usually in conjunction with the building of a new chapel and parsonage, and the birth of the Bushnells' first child, Alice Kendall Bushnell.

A turning point in Bushnell's life came on February 6, 1890, when he left the Achushnet area to become pastor of the Orthodox Church (Pleasant Street Congregational) of Arlington, Massachusetts. He remained in service there until 1920, when he returned to New Haven, Connecticut. Bushnell's recollections of the first fourteen years he spent in Arlington are entwined with many stories of weddings, births, and deaths among family members and friends, vacation, trips, public service positions he assumed, and attendance at Yale football games and the Yale Bicentennial.

Volume II, 1904-1914, begins with Bushnell's fifteenth year at the Arlington Chruch. The same pattern of noting important family events is followed, Other subjects mentioned include: a February 6, 1911 luncheon at the White House with President William Howard Taft and other Yale men, the activities of the American Peace Society, accounts of Yale athletic events, a March 18, 1912 breakfast with President Taft at the City Club of Boston and numerous lectures and addresses delivered in the course of his religious and civic duties.

Volume III, 1914-1920, shows Bushnell continuing his work on behalf of Yale University, as he was elected president of the Associated New England Yale Clubs (1914-1916). A printed prayer which Bushnell offered at the funeral of the Reverend Theodore J. Prudden is included in this volume (page 81). Bushnell also documents many of his war-related activities.

Volume IV, 1920-1926, begins with a section entitled, "Last Four Months of My Pastorate in Arlington Feb-June," and documents Bushnell's return to New Haven. Among the local and university events Bushnell recalls from these years are: the inauguration of Yale President James R. Angell, the dedication ceremonies at Sterling Laboratory, and the 101st anniversary of the Yale Divinity School. As class secretary for the Yale Class of 1874, Bushnell took particular pride in noting its fiftieth anniversary in 1924.

Volume V, 1926-1929, records the final years of Bushnell's life. A printed copy of an article Bushnell wrote entitled "Athletics Past and Present," is included on pages thirty-five though thirty-nine, and Bushnell notes numerous Yale athletic events in the 1920s. On July 21, 1929 Bushnell delivered a sermon in Madison, Connecticut, ancestral home of the Bushnell family. The sermon was printed in the local paper and is found on pages two hundred and eleven through two hundred and fourteen, with the title, "Enlarge Thy Borders." The reminiscences close in 1929 with the death of Ericsson Bushnell, brother of Samuel.

Diaries, consists of twenty-three volumes of personal diaries written by Bushnell from 1877-1930. These diaries contain daily entries for the activities, and thoughts of Bushnell from the beginning of his world tour in 1877 until shortly before his death. The initial diary is entitled "The Globetrotter," and documents Bushnell's world tour begun after graduation from Yale in 1877. The remaining diaries contain a wealth of personal minutae including notes for family birthdays, weddings, and celebrations, and the ever-present accounts of Yale athletic teams. These volumes, no doubt, provided the data for much of the information contained in the five volume set of reminiscences.

Record book, is a volume of individual names, alphabetically arranged, from 1907-1914, This is most likely a list of parishioners for these years.

Scrapbooks, consist of six volumes of scrapbooks, dating from 1877-1930. The entire contents of these scrapbooks have been microfilmed (see HM 159). Selected items from these volumes including correspondence, photographs, and ephemera are arranged in boxes eleven through thirteen.


  • 1852-1930


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

Scrapbooks available on microfilm (2,695 frames on 3 reels, 35mm.) from Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, at cost. Order no. HM159.

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 Samuel Kendall Bushnell.


7.5 Linear Feet (13 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Reminiscences, diaries and scrapbooks, relating to Samuel C. Bushnell's personal life, travels and student days at Yale University (1870-1877), and religious career as a Congregational minister in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Biographical / Historical

Samuel Clarke Bushnell, B.A. 1874.

Born March 8, 1852, in New Haven, Conn. Died April 27, 1930, in New Haven, Conn.

Father, Cornelius Scranton Bushnell; established whole-sale grocery business of Bushnell & Company in New Haven; also a shipbuilder; instrumental in extension of Shore Line Railroad to New London and an incorporator of Union Pacific Railroad; member of Connecticut Legislature; his services as financial sponsor of the "Monitor" and his responsibility for its adoption by the Union through his influence with President Lincoln are marked by the bronze tablet on the Ericson-Bushnell; monument at Chapel Street and Derby Avenue, New Haven; son of Nathan and Chloe (Scranton) Bushnell, of Madison, Conn. Mother, Emily Fowler (Clark) Bushnell; daughter of Samuel and Mary Emeline (Fowler) Clark, of New Haven. Yale relatives include: Winthrop G. Bushnell, '88, and Levi I. Bushnell, ex-'91 (brothers); and Cornelius B. Watson, '08 S., and Henry T. Bushnell, '22 (nephews).

Hopkins Grammar School. On Freshman Hat Committee, Class Supper Committee Junior year; Junior and Senior Promenade committees, and Class Cup and Church committees; member '74, Barge Crew No. 2, Freshman year; played in first Yale-Princeton football game Senior year, secretary of University Baseball Club Junior year and president Senior year and manager of Baseball Team Senior year; vice-president of Yale Missionary Society; a Class deacon; member Delta Kappa, Phi Theta Psi, Psi Upsilon, and Skull and Bones.

Studied in Yale Divinity School 1874-1877 (B.D.1877); during his course preached at East Braintree, Vt., in summer of 1876; took a trip around the world 1877-1878 and then became pastor of First Congregational Church, Acushnet, New Bedford, Mass., where he remained until 1890, his ordination taking place June 4, 1879, pastor of Orthodox Church (Pleasant Street Congregational), Arlington, Mass., 1890-1920; had since made his home in New Haven; served as acting pastor of United (Congregational) Church 1922-1923; appointed as delegate of that church to New Haven Council of Churches in 1929 and 1930; trustee of Robbins Library in Arlington 1894-1921, (chairman of the board 1898-1921); had been member of school boards of Arlington and New Bedford; vice-president, 1905-1917, president 1919, and director 1896-1919 of Congregational Church Union; a director of American Congregational Association 1911-1919, Congregational Education Society 1907-1914, American Peace Society of Boston 1895-1915, and New Haven Y.M.C.A. 1927-1930; trustee of Tabor Academy, Marion, Mass., since 1889 (member of the original board); director of E. C. Scranton Memorial Library, Madison, Conn., since 1907; member of executive committee of Massachusetts Federation of Churches 1910-1918; secretary of Winthrop Club of Boston 1900-1922; vice-chairman of national executive committee to reestablish Hopkins Grammar School as a national institution 1923; member of Yale Board of Friends of Boys, Inc., of New Haven 1928-1930; represented Yale Club of Boston on Alumni Board 1914-1919; and served as chairman of the board 1916-1919; one of special committee of three to consider and report to the board with regard to the effort to be made by which other members of the Corporation than the six alumni fellows might be selected by the alumni-at-large; ex-officio member of Alumni Board as president of Divinity School Alumni Association 1922-1925; president of Associated New England Yale Clubs 1914-1916 (chairman of the committee on relations with Yale) and of Yale Club of Boston 1903-1906 and again 1916-1917; second vice-president of Yale Alumni Association of New Haven 1924-1926 and president 1926-1927; vice-president of Yale Association of Class Secretaries 1915; a governor of Yale Publishing Association 1922-1924; trustee of Yale-in-China 1921-1930; member Yale Bowl Committee of Twenty-one; secretary of Class of 1874 since 1914 and Class agent since 1928, and secretary of his class in the Divinity School since 1877; had published sermons in pamphlet form from time to time and three other pamphlets, The Story of the Monitor and the Merrimac (1926), Robert Collyer (1926), and A Brief Tribute to Dr. George E. Munroe, '74 (1926); had contributed to Yale Alumni Weekly and to the 50th Anniversary Supplement of Yale Daily News (1928); had preached at many boys' preparatory schools, including Andover, Exeter, Milton and Tabor academies, Westminster and Pomfret schools, and Cornwall-on-Hudson Military Academy, had delivered an annual sermon at the Madison (Conn.) Congregational Church every summer for thirty-nine years, and in 1892 preached the historical sermon at the 50th anniversary of the Orthodox Congregational Church at Arlington and in 1921 at the 50th anniversary of the church in East Braintree, Vt.; had also delivered numerous addresses; former member of the Monday and Fortnightly clubs (ministerial clubs); member Arlington, Madison, and New Haven Colony Historical societies, Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut, and United Church, New Haven.

Married October 14, 1880, in Boston, Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth Bishop (Beals) Kendall. Children: Alice Kendall and Samuel Kendall, '14 and '15 S.

Death due to uremia and angina pectoris. Buried in Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven. Survived by wife, daughter, son, and a sister, Mrs. Gilbert L. Watson, of Parkersburg, W. Va.

—from the Yale College Obituary Record pp. 41-44

Guide to the Samuel Clarke Bushnell Papers
Under Revision
compiled by William E. Brown, Jr. and Anita Ayerbe
February 1983
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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