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Horace Bushnell Papers

Call Number: RG 39

Scope and Contents

The correspondence section consists of two letters written and signed by Bushnell, their recipients unidentified. Additional Bushnell correspondence can be found in the papers of Walter Clarke, Record Group 30, which relates to the theological controversy in 1848-1854.

The diaries of Series II are a five volume record of Bushnell's impressions during his trip abroad in 1845-1846. These journals would be of greatest value for biographical research. Excerpts from them have been published in Bushnell's daughter's book, Life and Letters of Horace Bushnell.

The writings of Bushnell are divided into three sections:

  1. A. Manuscript sermons and discourses (1832-1875, n.d.)
  2. B. Published sermons and discourses (1839-1959, n.d.)
  3. C. Miscellaneous (1839-1873, n.d.)

The manuscript sermons give valuable insight into the less formal aspects of Bushnell's thought. Some of these sermons have been published in whole or in part, largely in Bushnell's posthumous volume, The Spirit in Man. Although many of them were not considered sufficiently valuable or well organized to be included in his published works as entire sermons, these unpublished writings contain material that can assist in tracing the development of his thought. In many cases the unpublished portions of the sermons contain statements of doctrine that were apparently omitted as not being of interest to the general reader.

The published sermons and discourses are largely duplicates of ones already cataloged in the Library's collection, and are included with Bushnell's papers to provide consolidated access. The miscellaneous writings of Bushnell included newspaper articles, a prayer for a wedding, and explanations of two patents obtained by him.

The material written about Bushnell during his lifetime pertains to the controversy associated with his theological beliefs. Bushnell's opposition to the rigid rationalism of his times and his attempts to redefine Christianity in terms of human experience were the cause of much accusation and debate. Additional material in this section stems from the centenary celebration of Bushnell's birth in 1902. Series V includes a letter from Amos Cheseborough to T.T. Munger, biographer of Bushnell, that traces Bushnell's genealogical descent.


  • 1832-1902


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Howell Cheney, 1945.


  1. I. Correspondence, 1848, n.d.
  2. II. Diaries, 1845-1846
  3. III. Writings of Bushnell, 1832-1875
  4. IV. Material written about Bushnell, 1843-1902, n.d.
  5. V. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1849-1902, n.d.


2 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The collection includes five diaries containing valuable biographical information and documenting Bushnell's trip abroad, 1845-1846, and manuscript sermons, 1832-1875, which give insight into the less formal aspects of Bushnell's thought. The material written about Bushnell during his lifetime pertains to the controversy associated with his theological beliefs. Horace Bushnell was born in Bantam, Connecticut on April 14, 1802. He was educated at Yale (B.A., 1827; M.A., 1830; B.D., 1833), and received degrees from Wesleyan University, Harvard, and Yale. He served as pastor of North Church, Hartford, CT from 1833-1859. He was the author of God in Christ (1849) and Christ in Theology (1851), as well as other works uncongenial to the orthodox theology of his times.

Biographical / Historical

1802 Apr 14
Born in Bantam, CT
B.A., Yale
Tutor in Yale College
M.A., Yale
B.D., Yale
Ordained in 1833, Bushnell served as pastor of the North Church, Hartford, CT until 1859
D.D., Wesleyan University
Year spent abroad in Europe
Published God in Christ, a work uncongenial to the orthodoxy of the times. Conservative ministers in Connecticut sought to bring Bushnell to trial for heresy.
Published , Christ in Theology, which answered his critics.
S.T.D., Harvard
Traveled to California for health reasons, became interested in the problems of developing the region.
Retired from the ministry for health reasons but continued to write and publish.
L.L.D., Yale
1876Feb 17

Biographical information taken from: Historical Register of Yale University, 1701-1937 and Dictionary of American Biography

Guide to the Horace Bushnell Papers
Compiled by Martha Lund Smalley
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Divinity Library Repository

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