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Beach Family Papers

Call Number: RG 60

Scope and Contents

Rather than providing complete documentation of the lives and work of David Nelson Beach and Harlan Page Beach, the papers of this collection highlight certain aspects of their lives while leaving others untouched. The college years at Yale of both David and Harlan are well documented through letters and diaries. David's career as a prominent Congregational clergyman is traced through correspondence and newspaper clippings up until the year 1903, when he became president of Bangor Theological Seminary. Regular letters to family members document the period when Harlan and his wife Lucy were missionaries in China. Extensive information regarding Beach family relationships and history is available in the collection.

The larger portion of the papers in this collection are related to David Nelson Beach, with only several folders of family correspondence and one item of general correspondence relating to Harlan. Harlan's work as a professor of missions at Yale is touched upon only in a bound volume of letters from former students. No material related to David's work as president of Bangor Theological Seminary is available in this collection.

The first series, Correspondence dates from 1863 to 1961 and is divided into Family Correspondence and General Correspondence. The General Correspondence of David Nelson Beach documents his connection with the Liberal Congress of Religion and the American Anti-Saloon League and includes letters from Henry Cabot Lodge, Charles F. Thwing and Henry Clay Trumbull.

The Diaries and Journals of Series II date from the Beaches' student days, 1862 to 1876, and from a trip to Europe taken by David in 1885.

The writings of David Nelson Beach in Series III date from 1862 to 1909 and include many compositions and poems written while a student. The series also contains two items related to mission work which were written by Harlan Page Beach, and one essay related to Congregationalism which was written by David Nelson Beach, Jr. in 1957.

The Personal Items and Memorabilia of Series IV date from 1858 to 1919. The series contains primarily biographical material relating to David Nelson Beach, newspaper clippings, printed material, school reports and so forth. Reviews and correspondence related to his published writings are also in this series.

The Photographs of Series V include one folder of portraits of David and Harlan and several folders of photographs from the travels of Harlan and his wife in Africa, India and the Far East.


  • 1858-1961

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.


  1. I. Correspondence, 1863-1961, undated
  2. II. Diaries, Journals, 1862-1885
  3. III. Writings, 1860-1957
  4. IV. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1858-1919
  5. V. Photographs, 1872-1898, undated


6 Linear Feet (15 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers document various aspects of the lives of brothers David Nelson Beach and Harlan Page Beach, including their student days at Yale (1868-1878), Harlan's work in North China (1883-1890), and David's work as a clergyman and with the Anti-Saloon League while in Cambridge, Minneapolis and Denver. David Nelson Beach, 1848-1926, was a prominent Congregational clergyman in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Denver, Colorado and was active in temperance reform. He was president of Bangor Theological Seminary from 1903-1921. Harlan Page Beach, 1854-1933, was a missionary to China under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) from 1883-1890. He was professor of missions at Yale Divinity School from 1905-1921 and librarian of Yale's Day Missions Library from 1911-1925.

Biographical / Historical

Chronology of David Nelson Beach

1848 November 30
Born in South Orange, NJ, son of Joseph Wickliff and Mary Angeline (Walkley) Beach
Golden Hill Institute, Bridgeport, CT
Yale University, B.A. 1872. Class poet. New Haven correspondent, New York Tribune
Assistant city editor, New York Tribune
Yale Divinity School, B.D.
Pastor of Pawcatuck Congregational Church, Westerly, RI
Married Lilian Tappan who became the mother of Dorothea, John, Joseph, and David Nelson Jr. before her death June 30, 1902
Pastor of Congregational Church, Wakefield, MA
Pastor of Prospect Street Church, Cambridge, MA
Pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis, MN
D.D. Western Reserve University
Pastor of First Congregational Church, Denver, CO
Married Dora Freeman who died March 14, 1915
President and Professor of Sacred Rhetoric, Bangor Theological Seminary
Married Ellen Olive Walkley (his cousin).
Pastor-at-large, residing in Guilford and Southington, CT
1926 October 18
Died in Southington, CT

Beach was active in temperance work and in work for church unity. He was a member of the Liberal Congress of Religion. His published works included: The Newer Religious Thinking and The Annie Laurie Mine.

Chronology of Harlan Page Beach

Born in South Orange, NJ, son of Joseph Wickliff and Mary Angeline (Walkley) Beach
1870, 1871
Worked in Plantsville, CT as a bookkeeper
Entered Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
B.A. Yale University
B.D. Andover Theological Seminary
Missionary in North China under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), with his wife Lucy Ward Beach.
M.A. (honorary) Yale
Professor of the Theory and Practice of Missions, Yale.
Librarian, Day Missions Library, Yale
D.D. Amherst College
Willis James Professor of the Theory and Practice of Missions, Yale
Professor Emeritus
1933 March 4
Died in Florida
Guide to the Beach Family 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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