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Frank Knight Sanders Papers

Call Number: RG 122

Scope and Contents

The Correspondence of Series I includes letters written by Sanders' parents that describe mission work and native customs in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and give an interesting portrayal of world conditions in the third quarter of the 19th century. While in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) from 1882 to 1886, Sanders received letters from his missionary brothers: Charley in Turkey and Will in Angola. During the period 1926 to 1932 Sanders attempted to trace his family history and received letters from family members supplying applicable information. Correspondence of 1925 includes letters to and from John R. Mott.

The Diaries and Journals in Series II include forty-four personal diaries of Frank Knight Sanders as well as journals describing trips taken by Sanders. The Writings of Series III include lectures, sermons, and articles by Sanders as well as writings of others. Writings by others include extracts from letters written by a Civil War doctor in 1862, anonymous sermons dating from 1815 to 1845, and medical sketches on the subject of "imbeciles" written by Henry Martyn Knight, superintendent of the Connecticut School for Imbeciles. The Printed Material of Series IV includes newspapers clippings, and miscellaneous pamphlets; a few pamphlets related to the Board of Missionary Preparation have been placed in YDSL HR1052. Series V, Personal Items and Memorabilia, contains biographical material, photographs, and genealogical information tracing Sanders' family back to early settlers of America, including Roger Williams of Rhode Island.


  • 1815-1953


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.


  1. I. Correspondence, 1846-1953
  2. II. Diaries and Journals, 1878-1933
  3. III. Writings, 1815-1929, n.d.
  4. IV. Printed Material, 1920-1931, n.d.
  5. V. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1870-1933, n.d.


6 Linear Feet (13 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers include letters from Sanders' parents describing missionary work in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), correspondence and personal diaries of Sanders, writings, genealogical material, and photographs. There is also documentation related to Sanders' uncle, Henry Martyn Knight, who was the founder of the Connecticut School for Imbeciles. The son of ABCFM missionaries to Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Frank Knight Sanders (1861-1933) taught at Jaffna College, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) from 1882 to 1886. He was on the faculty of the Yale Divinity School from 1891 to 1907, serving as Dean from 1901 to 1905. He was President of Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas from 1908 to 1914 and Director of Missionary Preparation for the Foreign Missions Conference of North America from 1914 to 1927.

Biographical / Historical

Born in Batticotta, Jaffna, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), fifth son of Marshall Danforth and Georgianna (Knight) Sanders, missionaries under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM)
Came to U.S., lived with his uncle, Henry Martyn Knight, in Lakeville, CT. Parents returned to Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
Mother died of pleurisy in Sri Lanka (Ceylon); father married Carrie E. Webb in 1870
A. B., Ripon College, Wisconsin
Instructor at Jaffna College, Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
M.A., Ripon College, Wisconsin
Married Edith Blackman; children: Helen, Morris Blackman, Frank Knight
Ph.D., Yale
Assistant in Semitic Languages, Yale
Instructor in Semitic Languages, Yale.
Assistant Professor of Biblical Literature, Yale
Woolsey Professor of Biblical Literature, Yale
Professor of Biblical History and Archeology, Yale
Dean of Yale Divinity School
Ordained as Congregational minister in New Haven
Secretary of the Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society
President of Washburn College, Topeka, Kansas
Director of Missionary Preparation for the Foreign Missions Conference of North America
Died in Rockport, MA

Processing Information

Place names were modernized in the description, with the name originally used in the collection material or in an older version of the finding aid in parenthesis: e.g. “Beijing (Peking)” or “Benin (Dahomey)”.

Guide to the Frank Knight Sanders 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.

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