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Protestant Episcopal Bishops collection

Call Number: MS 21

Scope and Contents

The Protestant Episcopal Bishops Collection consists of those manuscripts (originally in three volumes) deposited for the Berkeley Divinity School Library by Dean William P. Ladd in 1936 and 1940, manuscripts given to Yale Library by the Rev. Doctor Kenneth W. Cameron and other sources, and letters to the Rev. Melancthon Lloyd Woolsey (1855-1940). There are roughly 2500 items in 485 folders, housed in 12 grey boxes and one oversize folio.

The collection is divided into two series. Series I, CORRESPONDENCE, is subdivided into American and non-American Bishops, followed by one folder of non-Bishop letters. Approximately 450 Bishops are represented, some only by autographs and/or photographs, but most have five or six letters as well in their folders. For each Bishop the following information is given, where known: full name, longevity, state or territory of diocese, dates of correspondence, number of items in the folder. Material which is not strictly correspondence, such as sermons, lengthy newsclippings, pamphlets, speeches, etc., is indicated for each folder in the register.

The two largest groups of letters belong to Bishop Seabury, the first American Bishop, and Bishop John Williams, 3rd Bishop of Connecticut. Of the 50 pieces in the Bishop Seabury group, many are photostatic copies of letters and documents obtained from the New York State Historical Society. The 125 items in the Bishop Williams section are mostly letters to his cousin; also included are sermons, notebooks, and diplomas. Perhaps also of interest is the collection of orders of consecration of 44 Bishops, found under Bishop Tuttle. The terminal dates of this first subdivision are roughly 1775-1937, although some material dates from 1740 to 1954. The bulk of the section falls between 1820 and 1940.

In the second part of Series I, some 32 non-American Bishops are represented, usually by an autograph or a single letter. Most of the Bishops are from England or Ireland. This relatively small subdivision is followed by a single folder of non-Bishop letters, all but two of which were addressed to Woolsey.

Series II, the SUBJECT FILE, is divided into four parts. The first two, as above, concern American and non-American Bishops respectively. The American section contains autographs and photographs, a printed table of the succession of Bishops (Nos. 1-396), and the register and letter journal of Foster Ely, who first assembled the letters of various Bishops. The non-American section also contains autographs and pictures from magazines, and, much more important historically, the reply of the English Bishops to the American request for Episcopal status in 1786. The next two parts concern Trinity Church in New Haven and St. Bartholomew's Church in New York. The former contains lease agreements with the Scott family from 1814-1881; documents of the rector, Reuben Sherwood; the 1831 cornerstone inscription; and records of the Sunday School Teachers Society from 1830-1840. St. Bartholomew's Church is represented by only one folder containing a hard-bound volume on its history by E. Clowes Chorley, 1935. A folder of mi

For anyone interested in American Church history in general, and the Episcopal Church in particular, this collection should be of great interest. It not only provides unusual insights into the personal lives of the men who operated at the highest levels of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, but also contains rich resources for the history of church doctrine and the movement of theology through a vast social and political spectrum. Of salient importance is the section of letters and documents of Bishop Samuel Seabury and associates from a time of revolutionary change for the church as well as the country. Also of interest are the missionary Bishops in the various western states and abroad, for these men were literally the pioneers of the church in the 19th and early 20th centuries. No matter what period one investigates within this two hundred year era of the church, this collection will remain of continuing historical interest and importance.


  • 1740-1950

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 Kenneth W. Cameron and others, 1936-


Arranged in two series: I. Correspondence. II. Subject File.


5 Linear Feet (12 boxes, 1 folio)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Correspondence from and subject files relating to the bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States and Europe.

Guide to the Protestant Episcopal Bishops Collection
Under Revision
compiled by Thomas W. Mann
June 1970
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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