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James Lockwood Wright papers

Call Number: MS 1078

Scope and Contents

The papers of James Lockwood Wright consist of an eleven volume journal kept for thirty years, from the beginning of his study at Yale College in 1828 through 1858. While Wright does describe various events in his life and the world around him, his major concern in with his inner religious condition. As a young man he constantly doubted the sincerity of his faith and his fitness for the ministry, and lamented his frequent lapses from Godly behavior and recurrent fits of depression (1828 Nov 29, Dec 20, 1831 Mar 14, 1835 Feb 1, 1842 Mar, 1853 Oct 15). Much interested in the revival movements of his era, he participated both as a student and as a minister (1831 Mar 14, 1833 Sep, 1851 Jan 27, 31, 1858 Jan 27), and describes evangelical work with black residents of New Haven (1833 Feb 3), the process of conversion of one of his parishioners (1851 Jan 31), and a multitude of sermons, both his own and others.

Other topics which Wright mentions include his activities as a Yale student, including attendance at a lecture by Elias Boudinot on behalf of the Cherokee nation (1832 Feb 14) and various temperance and abolition activities (1833 Sep 3). After graduation Wright lived by farming, teaching school, and occasional preaching before taking a full-time position as minister, first in Burlington, Connecticut, in 1848, and then in Haddam, Connecticut, in 1855. His journal briefly records his activities along with notes on slavery (1841 Oct 22, 1850 Mar-Apr), local politics (1850 Mar-Apr), and his own and his family's health. He describes in some detail a bout of illness apparently combined with some sort of mental breakdown which he suffered (1853 Oct 15), and provides a lengthy account of the birth of his fourth child, in preparation for which his wife underwent a series of water treatments and a diet of graham bread.

In addition to the journal, this collection contains a letter from James Heyden Wright to Marion (Wright) Messimer concerning the journal.


  • 1828-1858


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Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain.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

The collection was donated to Yale University by Marion Messimer in 1948.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers consist of eleven volumes of a journal kept by Wright from his first years at Yale College in 1828. While there he reports on a lecture by Elias Boudinot on behalf of the Cherokee nation and various temperance and abolition activities. The journals are chiefly devoted to religious meditations and describe the various revival movements of his era and his evangelical work with black residents of New Haven. He also records various aspects of his personal life including five mental breakdowns between 1828 and 1853, his family's health, and gives an account of the birth of his fourth child. The journals also include transcriptions of his sermons as well as those by others. With the papers is a letter from James Heyden Wright to Marion Wright Messimer on the journal.

Guide to the James Lockwood Wright papers
Under Revision
July 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
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