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Harry Croswell Papers

Call Number: RG 258
Scope and Contents
Series I, Diaries or Journals, consists of fifteen bound volumes, of which fourteen are a diary faithfully kept from April 11, 1821, to March 6, 1858, a week before his death. In 1915 Franklin Bowditch Dexter (1824-1920), assistant librarian of Yale University and Learned Professor of American History, undertook an abridgement of the diary "containing the portions most adapted to printing." This manuscript itself runs to 975 pages with detailed biographical and other explanatory notes. Professor Dexter also made a partial index of 75 pages to the diaries which includes both names and subjects.

The diaries offer a daily record of Croswell's pastoral visits, comments on church politics, events at Yale College and civic affairs, providing an invaluable record of New Haven history over a period of more than 30 years. Although the entries tend to be brief and factual, Croswell's decisive opinions on such issues as church doctrine, politics, temperance and abolitionism emerge very clearly. He is equally vivid, and often acid, in brief sketches of visitors as well as of some of the permanent residents of New Haven. He was regularly in touch with the blacks of New Haven who were members of his church and in the spring of 1844 records the formation of a separate black congregation, St. Luke's. (See entries for 1844 Mar 12 to Jun 7, passim.) His occasional travels to upstate New York to visit his son, Sherman, contain descriptions of the towns and countryside as he found it then with comparisons of the region as he knew it in the early years of the century. (See entries for 1825 Jul and 1841 Jul.) He also visited Philadelphia in 1821 and describes his impressions. His more frequent visits to his son, William, in Boston also include references to local scenes and institutions. A particularly interesting entry is his description of his first railroad trip (1835 Aug 18) and his physical sensation on being aboard a train.

Other entries mentioning figures of national prominence include, among others, a description of the funeral services for Noah Webster (1843 May 31), the death of President William H. Harrison and its observance in New Haven, and the election of Zachary Taylor as president. The celebration of the Fourth of July is described with care each year. Although he was regularly invited to the Yale College commencement, Croswell avoided going, preferring to sit at home quietly in his study.

The last volume in Series I documents Croswell's participation in the General Conventions of the Episcopal Church 1838-1858.

The Sermons of Series II were received from the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut in 2014. They include a numbered series, a dated series, a liturgical series related to different Sundays during the Church Year, and a series focused on special occasions.

Series III, Historical Records, includes two bound volumes, a genealogy and a church chronicle. The Croswell Family Record, begun in 1856, contains valuable if fragmentary information. Clearly intended to be more ambitious, it occupies only seventeen pages in a large folio volume. In the same year Croswell also began an Annals of the Parish of Trinity Church, in which he goes back to verbal traditions from 1740. The manuscript of 101 pages is in another large folio volume and reaches the year 1820. These volumes and fourteen volumes of diaries were given to the Yale Library in 1904 and 1905 by Edward C. Beecher.

Series IV and Series V include small amounts of unpublished writings by Croswell and correspondence respectively. Numerous published works by Croswell are in the Yale Library cataloged collection.
Language of Materials
In English.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Edward C. Beecher in 1904 and 1905. Collection transferred to Divinity Library from Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library in 2013. Addendum received from Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut in 2014.
  1. I. Diaries or Journals
  2. II. Sermons
  3. III. Historical Records
  4. IV. Writings
  5. V. Correspondence
6.5 Linear Feet (21 boxes)
Related Names
Croswell, Harry, 1778-1858
Language of Materials
Language of Materials