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HUM 16

Parmele, Elisha, 1755-1784. Papers of Elisha Parmele, 1776-1785: an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUM 16
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Parmele, Elisha, 1755-1784.
Title: Papers of Elisha Parmele, 1776-1785
Date(s): 1776-1785
Quantity: .26 cubic feet (one half document box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: These papers of minister Elisha Parmele (1755-1784) document his work as an undergraduate student at Harvard College from 1777 to 1778; his selection and service as pastor of Lee, Massachusetts; and the settlement of his estate when he died, following long illness, in 1784. The collection includes notebooks created during Parmele's studies of the Chaldean Aramaic and Syriac languages at Harvard, papers documenting his selection for and release from the pastorship in Lee, a journal on religious matters, his will, and other materials related to his studies, work, and untimely death.

Acquisition information:

The Papers of Elisha Parmele were donated to Harvard University in 1904 by Edward Everett Hale.

Processing Information:

Items in this collection were previously cataloged separately, as individual items or in small groups. The collection was re-processed in 2010, combining all of the Harvard University Archives' holdings of Elisha Parmele papers to create one collection. Re-processing involved a collection survey, re-housing in appropriate archival folders and boxes, and the creation of this finding aid.
This finding aid was created by Laura Morris in May 2010.
Preservation and description of the Papers of Elisha Parmele was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

Researcher Access:

The Papers of Elisha Parmele are open for research.

Copying Restriction:

Copying of fragile materials may be limited.

Preferred Citation:

Parmele, Elisha, 1755-1784. Papers of Elisha Parmele, 1776-1785. HUM 16, Harvard University Archives.

Related Materials

The Harvard University Archives also holds correspondence related to Elisha Parmele that was generated by the donor of the collection, Edward Everett Hale, in the course of his own research. This correspondence is located in the "background" folder of the control files for the Papers of Elisha Parmele and may be consulted upon request.

Biographical Note

Elisha Parmele (1755-1784), perhaps best known for his role in the establishment of Phi Beta Kappa chapters at Harvard and Yale, experienced life as a student during the Revolutionary War, as a pastor in Lee, Massachusetts, and as a traveler to Virginia on three occasions. Parmele died at the age of thirty-one, following a long illness.
Elisha Parmele was born on February 22, 1755 in Goshen, Connecticut. He was the fourth son of Abraham and Mary (Stanley) Parmele. Elisha prepared for college with the Reverend Mr. Robbins of Norfolk, Connecticut and began his undergraduate studies at Yale. The outbreak of the Revolutionary War interrupted his studies, though, as Yale did not open in the fall of 1776 for fear of a British attack on New Haven. Parmele decided to transfer to Harvard College, joining its junior class in 1777 and graduating with an A.B. in 1778. Following graduation, he moved to Virginia in hopes of restoring his failing health. It is believed that he served as a tutor in the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, from 1778 to 1780, and it is certain that he became associated with the college's chapter - the first to be established, in 1776 - of Phi Beta Kappa.
When Parmele returned north in 1780, he held documents authorizing him to establish two additional chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, one at Yale and the other at Harvard. He established the Yale chapter in 1780 and the Harvard chapter in 1781, the same year he received an A.M. from the College. Parmele returned to Virginia in 1781 and stayed into the following year; at an unknown date, likely during this period, he married a woman named Mary. In July of 1783 Parmele accepted a position as minister of Lee, Massachusetts. His health, which appears to have always been troubling, failed dramatically while he was at Lee; he is believed to have suffered from pulmonary consumption. By 1784, Parmele's health was so poor that he resigned from the ministry and traveled south, in hopes of recovering his health in Virginia. He died en route, in Hawkinstown, Virginia, in 1784.

References

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in three series: Papers within each series are arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content

These papers of minister Elisha Parmele (1755-1784) document his work as an undergraduate student at Harvard College from 1777 to 1778; his selection and service as pastor of Lee, Massachusetts; and the settlement of his estate when he died, following long illness, in 1784. The collection includes notebooks created during Parmele's studies of the Chaldean Aramaic and Syriac languages at Harvard, papers documenting his selection for and release from the pastorship in Lee, a journal on religious matters, his will, and other materials related to his studies, his work, and his untimely death.

General

This document last updated 2014 February 24.

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