Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840. Papers of John Thornton Kirkland, 1788-1837 and undated : an inventory Harvard University Archives
©President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2005
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Call No.: UAI 15.880
Creator: Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840.
Title: Papers of John Thornton Kirkland, 1788-1837 and undated.
Quantity: 2 cubic feet (3 document boxes, 1 half-document box, 1 legal document box, 1 half-legal document box, 1 portfolio folder)
Abstract: The Papers of John T. Kirkland, 1788-1837 and undated, chiefly document his activities as a Unitarian minister from 1794 to 1810 and as president of Harvard University from 1810 to 1828. The records include correspondence, letterbooks, notebooks, meeting minutes, diaries, commonplace books, sermons, and writings.
A limited amount of material about Kirkland's student days at Harvard and his personal life are also included in the collection.
Note: This document last updated 2013 April 29.
The Papers of John T. Kirkland were acquired by the Harvard University Archives through donation and purchase. Whenever possible the archivist noted the terms of acquisition in the folder list below. The acquisitions are as follows:
- Bella C. Landauer, 1939
- Frances W. Ramsey, Jr., 1962
- Houghton Library, 1949
- Houghton Library, 1962
- Philip Spaulding, 1937
- T. Roland [Bernes], 1965
- Thomas F. Cadwalader, 1957
- Mrs. William C. Morris, 1952
- Accession number: 12864; 1994 May 5
- Accession number: 13251; 1995 December 11
- Accession number: 14262; 2000 December 20
- Accession number: 18342; 2011 August 4
Permission of the University Archives is required for access to the Papers of John T. Kirkland. Researchers are advised to use published versions of these papers, both because of the fragility of the originals and their eighteenth and nineteenth-century orthography, which may make them difficult to read for those who are unaccustomed to it. Please consult the reference staff for further details. Additional restrictions may apply.
Copying of fragile materials may be limited.
In the Harvard University Archives
Records of the Harvard Corporation, 1650-1992 (UAII 100, UAI 5.x, UAI 15.x, and UAI 20.x): these records document formal and informal Corporation proceedings and the role of the Corporation in the governance of Harvard University.
- Memorandum books of the Corporation, 1806-1814 (UAI 20.806): contains memorandum books of the Harvard Corporation in the hand of Treasurer Ebenezer Storer, President Samuel Webber, and President John T. Kirkland.
Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits, oversize, ca. 1829-1985 (HUP (BP)): contains a lithograph photograph of John T. Kirkland, ca. 1830.
Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits, ca. 1852-ca. 2004 (HUP): contains a photograph of John T. Kirkland and Samuel Lothrop Kirkland.
Records of grants for work among the Indians, 1720-1812 (UAI 20.720): these records document Harvard's administrative and financial sponsorship of missionary work among several New England Native American tribes. They include the missionary journals of Samuel Kirkland (1741-1808) and John Sergeant (1747-1824).
- Biographical sketch of John Thornton Kirkland with partial transcriptions of his papers held in the Harvard University Archives, 2000 (HUY 74): collection includes a brief biographical sketch of John T. Kirkland that highlights aspects of his life and partial transcriptions of entries found in Kirkland's diaries, commonplace books, notes, sermons, and letters found in the Papers of John T. Kirkland.
- Note from John Langdon Sibley regarding the Papers of John Thornton Kirkland, 1842 January (UAN 12): in this note, Assistant Librarian Sibley explains that he has found the Papers of John Thornton Kirkland among other manuscript papers in a chest, which had previously been stored in the College Library located in Harvard Hall.
In the Hamilton College Library, College Archives
Samuel Kirkland Papers, 1741-1808 (Archives 0000.190): includes manuscript materials related to Reverend Samuel Kirkland (1741-1808), missionary to the Oneida Indians and founder of the Hamilton-Oneida Academy, which became Hamilton College. A portion of the collection's correspondence (including some of John T. Kirkland letters) has been digitized.
Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840. Papers of John Thornton Kirkland, 1788-1837 and undated. UAI 15.880, Harvard University Archives.
Most of this material was first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980. In September 2001, Barbara Meloni processed the materials gathered in accession number 14262 and Kate Bowers created an online finding aid. In 2005, Dominic P. Grandinetti re-processed these papers. Re-processing included the integration of outstanding accessions, the rearrangement and rehousing of the material in the appropriate containers, the establishment of a folder list, and the modification of the 2001 finding aid. In December 2011, minor adjustments to the physical arrangement of the collection and corresponding updates to the finding aid were made by Dominic P. Grandinetti.
Published versions of the documents in this collection are noted in the folder lists.
Additional preservation and description of the Papers of John T. Kirkland was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
The records are arranged in seven series:
Series I. Correspondence, 1788-1834 and undated
Series II. Diaries, 1789-1823, 1831-1832
Series III. Commonplace books, 1801, 1803-1819
Series IV. Notebooks, 1812-1837 and undated
Series V. Harvard University meeting minutes, 1810-1827
Series VI. Sermons, 1820, 1826 and undated
Series VII. Writings, 1799-1820s and undated
John Thornton Kirkland (1770-1840) served as the fifteenth President of Harvard University from November 14, 1810 to April 2, 1828.
Kirkland was born to Samuel Kirkland and Jerusha (Bingham) Kirkland on August 17, 1770 in Herkimer, New York. His father was a Congregational minister and missionary to Indians who founded the town of Kirkland, New York and established Hamilton Oneida College (later known as Hamilton College). Kirkland's early education took place at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He later graduated from Harvard College (AB 1789) and returned to teach at Phillips Academy and study divinity. However, Kirkland found the Calvinist doctrine too restrictive and decided to return to Harvard University and joined the Unitarian denomination. While studying divinity at Harvard, Kirkland served as a tutor of logic and metaphysics (1792-1794). Kirkland was ordained as a pastor of the New South Church in Boston, Massachusetts in 1794, serving until 1810.
A respected church leader, Kirkland was elected president of Harvard University in 1810. Under Kirkland's leadership Harvard expanded rapidly and evolved from a college to a university. Fifteen new professorships were formed, and the Law School (1817) and the Divinity School (1819) were founded during Kirkland's administration. New buildings were added to the school grounds; Holworthy Hall (1812), University Hall (1814), the Medical College (1816), and Divinity Hall (1825) were constructed. Other buildings were enlarged and renovated. The Library took over the entire second floor of Harvard Hall and extensive repairs were undertaken in Holden Chapel, Harvard Hall, Stoughton Hall, Hollis Hall, and Massachusetts Hall. New areas of instruction in chemistry, mineralogy, anatomy, physiology, and elocution were added to the college curriculum; the lecture method of instruction was introduced into the classroom; and the first student electives at Harvard were offered. Kirkland also played a leading role in the improvement of Harvard Yard which was cluttered at the time with a brew house, a wood yard, privies, roaming sheep, and a college pig pen. Under Kirkland's stewardship, the Yard was replaced with elm trees, regular pathways, and a proper lawn.
Kirkland's last years as Harvard president ended with controversy. Student disorder on campus was common in the early nineteenth century. When student riots and fights broke out at Harvard in 1823 over who was to give the commencement address at graduation, Kirkland expelled half of the senior class. As a result of Kirkland's actions, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts rescinded the school's $10,000 annual state subsidy in 1824. This financial loss created a budget deficit, but more importantly, it exposed Kirkland's lack of management skills in administering the University's finances. A fiscal crisis led to a financial retrenchment at Harvard and undermined Kirkland's authority. Over the next year, Kirkland's salary was reduced, his student secretary's job was eliminated, professors' salaries were cut, teaching loads increased, non-resident teachers were fired, and the University sloop, the Harvard, was sold. Harvard's financial accounts were brought under strict control and Kirkland's laxity in managing the financial affairs of the University was ended. In August 1827, Kirkland suffered a slight paralytic stroke. No longer able to meet the increasing challenges of administering Harvard's affairs, Kirkland resigned in March 1828.
After leaving Harvard University, Kirkland and his new wife, Elizabeth, traveled extensively in the southern United States, Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East. Returning to Boston from his overseas trips in 1832, Kirkland's health began to deteriorate, and he spent the last years of his life living quietly.
Kirkland died on April 24, 1840.
- Bailyn, Bernard."Why Kirkland Failed." In Glimpse of Harvard Past. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1986.
- Eliot, Samuel A. A Sketch of the History of Harvard College, and of its Present
State. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1848.
- Fuess, Claude M. "Some Eminent Andover Alumni, John Thornton Kirkland
(1770-1840)." The Phillips Bulletin, April 1924, pp. 6-11.
- Lothrop, Samuel K. Life of Samuel Kirkland, Missionary to the Indians. Boston,
Massachusetts: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1848.
- Lothrop, Thornton Kirkland, Ed. Some Reminiscences of the Life of Samuel
Kirkland Lothrop. Cambridge, Massachusetts: John Wilson and Son, 1888.
- Morison, Samuel Eliot. "John Thornton Kirkland". In Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. X, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933.
- Morison, Samuel Eliot. "The Great Rebellion in Harvard College, And The
Resignation of President Kirkland." Publications of The Colonial Society
of Massachusetts, Transactions, November, 1927- November, 1928, Vol.
XXVII, 1929. 54-112.
- Morison, Samuel Eliot. Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636-1936. Cambridge,
Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1936.
- Palfrey, John G. A Discourse on the Life and Character of the Reverend John
Thornton Kirkland, D.D., LL.D., Late President of Harvard College;
pronounced on Thursday, June 5, 1840, in the New South Church in Boston,
before The Pupils of President Kirkland, and The Government and Students
of the University. Cambridge, Massachusetts: John Owen, 1840.
- Pierce, John. "President Kirkland." Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical
Society, Second Series, Vol. IX, 1894, 1895. Boston: The Society, 1895.
- Quincy, Josiah. The History of Harvard University, Vol. II. Cambridge,
Massachusetts: John Owen, 1840.
- Young, Alexander. Discourses on the Life and Character of John Thornton Kirkland
and of Nathaniel Bowditch, Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1840.
The Papers of John T. Kirkland, 1788-1837 and undated, chiefly document his activities as a Unitarian minister from 1794 to 1810 and as president of Harvard University from 1810 to 1828. The records include correspondence, letterbooks, notebooks, meeting minutes, diaries, commonplace books, sermons, and writings. A limited amount of material about Kirkland's student days at Harvard and his personal life are also included in the collection.
The bulk of the collection contains Kirkland's records such as correspondence, diaries, commonplace books, notebooks, and meeting minutes, from his tenure as president of Harvard University, illustrating Kirkland's administration and supervision of Harvard at a time in which the school was evolving from a college to a university; increasing its faculty, expanding its curriculum, and introducing progressive modes of instruction. The records demonstrate Kirkland's role as a liaison between the Fellows of Harvard Corporation, members of the Board of Overseers, professors, tutors, students, staff, and the public. Moreover, the records offer insight into the complex problems at Harvard in the early nineteenth century, as well as illustrate the challenges faced by early university or college presidents. The records document the daily responsibilities of Kirkland as Harvard president; and they demonstrate Kirkland's regulation of student behavior, student absences and vacations, and class meetings. They highlight Kirkland's responsibility to provide adequate meals to students; his supervision of the college library, grounds, and other buildings; and his ongoing contribution to the development of the college curriculum. The records demonstrate Kirkland's execution of the rules and regulations established by the Corporation and detail his supervision of various Harvard officers and committees. The records also underscore Kirkland's role as an ordained minister and as a teacher of morality and religion to promote the spiritual welfare of students at Harvard.
The collection includes records such as sermons, diaries, and notebooks, which document Kirkland's religious studies at Harvard and his activities as a Unitarian minister. Kirkland's reflections, musings, and notes on religious themes and topics are found in these records. The records help illustrate Kirkland's religious beliefs and shed light on his style and character of preaching. Additionally, the records provide a glimpse into the kind of divinity instruction a student received at the end of the eighteenth century at Harvard.
The collection also includes a limited amount of material documenting Kirkland's family and personal life. The Kirkland-Lothrop family correspondence consists mostly of letters from 1823 to 1828 written to Kirkland's nephew, Samuel Kirkland Lothrop. Although chiefly documenting Lothrop's student life at Harvard and his relationship with his family, the correspondence also offers a glimpse into the personal life of John T. Kirkland and his rapport with his extended family. Kirkland's personal correspondence from 1804 to 1834 contains a few letters referring to his ministerial activities and other routine matters. Kirkland's travel diary describes a visit to Spain, Egypt, and the Mediterranean with his wife Elizabeth after his retirement from Harvard. Although mostly in draft and fragmentary form, Kirkland's writings housed in Series VII offer an indication of his public interests, particularly in the fields of education and religion.
Series: I. Correspondence, 1788-1834 and undated (57 folders, 1 volume)
: This series consists of two subseries:
Scope and Content
: The Correspondence series consists chiefly of outgoing letters documenting John T. Kirkland's professional and personal life from 1788 to 1834. The series contains a limited amount of correspondence pertaining to Kirkland's family and personal life. The Kirkland-Lothrop family correspondence consists mostly of letters from 1823 to 1828 written to Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, a nephew of John T. Kirkland. This family correspondence chiefly documents Lothrop's student life at Harvard and his relationship with his family; additionally, it also provides a glimpse into John T. Kirkland's life outside of Harvard and his rapport with his extended family. Kirkland's personal correspondence from 1804 to 1834 contains a few letters referring to his ministerial activities and other routine matters.
The largest part of the Correspondence series consists of Kirkland's Harvard correspondence and letterbooks documenting his administration and governance of Harvard University from 1810 to 1828 and provides some insight into Kirkland's contribution to the development of Harvard in the early nineteenth century. The bulk of the Harvard letters, addressed to professors, school administrators, members of the Board of Overseers, Fellows of the Corporation, and parents of students, document a wide variety of Harvard matters, including the establishment of professorships, the appointment of faculty and staff, college finances, the development of the Harvard curriculum, and the rules and regulations governing student behavior. Many of the Harvard letters often refer to votes of the Harvard Corporation and of the Board of Overseers. Additionally, the high esteem in which students and faculty held Kirkland during his tenure as Harvard president is illustrated in Kirkland's resignation correspondence.
A. Family and personal correspondence, 1788-1834 and undated (23 folders)
1. Kirkland-Lothrop family correspondence, 1788, 1823-1828 (11 folders)
Processing Information: The correspondence in this sub-subseries was arranged chronologically by the archivist.
Biographical Note: Samuel Kirkland Lothrop (1804-1886) was a Unitarian clergyman. He was the son of John Hosmer and Jerusha (Kirkland) Lothrop. Lothrop was adopted by his uncle, President John T. Kirkland, who assumed the charge of his education. Lothrop received a Bachelor of Arts (1825), Bachelor of Divinity (1828), and an honorary Doctor of Divinity (1852) from Harvard. In 1885, Lothrop received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Hamilton College. Lothrop served as the pastor of the Brattle Square Church in Boston, Massachusetts, until his resignation in 1876.
Scope and Content: The Kirkland-Lothrop family correspondence in this sub-subseries consists mostly of letters written to Samuel Kirkland Lothrop when he was a student at Harvard from 1823 to 1827 and a minister in Dover, New Hampshire, in 1828. Correspondents include Lothrop's father (John Hosmer Lothrop), mother (Jerusha Kirkland Lothrop), sisters (Cornelia and Mary Ann), wife (Mary Lyman Buckminster), and uncle (John T. Kirkland). John Hosmer's letters allude to the student rebellion at Harvard in 1823 and urge his son to focus on his studies and distance himself from the troubles on campus. Jerusha Lothrop's letters inquire about John T. Kirkland's health, discuss Kirkland's paralysis (1828) and mention a visit from Lothrop's fiancée Mary Lyman Buckminster. Cornelia Lothrop informs her brother of the suicide of a family friend Lyman Buckminster (1796-1825), a Harvard graduate; the marriage of her friend Susan Brown; and John T. Kirkland's rheumatism. Mary Ann Lothrop's letters discuss Samuel Lothrop's acceptance of a proctorship and her dissatisfaction with John T. Kirkland's new wife, Elizabeth; complaining that Kirkland has been cold to her since his marriage. In other letters, John T. Kirkland writes Lothrop about a trip he took to New York to visit his family (1824) and Mary Ann Buckminster writes to Lothrop in Dover, New Hampshire, expressing her love and affection for him, but complaining that Lothrop has not written to her as often as she would like. Samuel Lothrop Kirkland's letter to his uncle, John T. Kirkland, was written after Kirkland's resignation at Harvard in 1828 and expresses Samuel's high regard for Kirkland, stating that Kirkland's memory will brighten his path throughout his life. This sub-subseries also includes a letter from John T. Kirkland's father, Samuel Kirkland (1741-1808), written to his son George Winthrop Kirkland (1770-1806) at Dartmouth College, commending him for his good behavior and studies at school.
- Letter from Samuel Kirkland to George Winthrop Kirkland, 1788 January UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 1
- Letter from John Hosmer Lothrop to Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, 1823 May 22 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 2
- Letter from Jerusha Lothrop to Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, 1824 June 22 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 3
- Letter from John Hosmer Lothrop to Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, 1824 August 19 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 4
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, 1824 September 8 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 5
- Letter from Cornelia Lothrop to Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, 1825 January 31 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 6
- Letter from Mary Ann Lothrop to Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, 1827 September 14 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 7
- Letter from Mary Ann Lothrop to Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, 1827 October 3 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 8
- Letter from Mary Lyman Buckminster to Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, 1828 February 22 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 9
- Letter from Jerusha Lothrop to Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, 1828 March 19 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 10
- Letter from Samuel Kirkland Lothrop to John T. Kirkland, 1828 April 8 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 11
2. Personal correspondence, 1804, 1806-1834 and undated (12 folders)
Processing Information: The material in this sub-subseries was arranged chronologically by the archivist.
Scope and Content: This sub-subseries contains a small amount of John T. Kirkland's personal correspondence from 1804 to 1834. The letters document Kirkland's efforts to raise money and collect books to support the missionary efforts of Indian student, John Konkapot in 1804 (probably a Dartmouth College graduate); Kirkland's involvement with Boston Congregational ministers; and Kirkland's trip to Europe after his retirement from Harvard University. This sub-subseries also includes a letter from Edward Sundelius (b. 1794-1852?, also known as Emanuel Sundels Edelhjerta), a Swedish citizen who made four water-color drawings of Harvard buildings during a visit to Cambridge in the first half of 1821, thanking Kirkland for his friendship during his stay in Cambridge. Sundelius' letter also includes two memorandums describing Sundelius' adoption by his wealthy maternal uncle, Asmund L. Edhelhjertha. Other topics addressed in these letters include a $5 quarterly payment to Samuel Kirkland, Kirkland's father, for a piece of property; the return of a delinquent book; lost shirts and napkins; and a change of Kirkland's residence to Summer Street in Boston.
: A description
of Emanuel Sundelius' water-color drawings of Harvard buildings can be found in Views of Harvard to 1860: An Iconographic Study – Part V
in the Harvard Library Bulletin,
Volume II, Number 2, spring 1948: 179-221.
A photostat copy of Emanuel Sundelius' notebook (including copies of his water-color drawings of Harvard, Boston buildings and scenes, and a picture of a Harvard student in a summer costume) is held in the Harvard University Archives (HUA 821.83). The original notebook is held in the Manuscript and Music Department of the Uppsala University Library (call number X415) in Sweden.
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to Samuel Kirkland, 1806 October 14 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 14
- Letter from S. Higginson to John T. Kirkland, 1816 December 29 UAI 15.880 Box 5, Folder 13
- Letter from Emanuel Sundelius to John T. Kirkland, 1822 May 14 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 18
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to Charles Sigourney, 1824 October 16 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 19
Acquisition Information: Donated by Mrs. William C. Morris, 1952.
Scope and Content: This folder contains a typewritten copy of Kirkland's original letter. The location of the original is unknown.
B. Professional correspondence, 1804, 1806-1834 and undated (34 folders, 1 volume)
1. Harvard University correspondence, 1810-1827 (15 folders)
Processing Information: The material in this sub-subseries was arranged chronologically by the archivist.
Scope and Content: This sub-subseries consists chiefly of John T. Kirkland's outgoing correspondence concerning Harvard University from 1810 to 1827. The letters are addressed to professors, school administrators, and members of the Board of Overseers, documenting the administration of Harvard University during Kirkland's presidency. Included among the letters in this sub-subseries are Kirkland's letter to the Harvard Board of Overseers accepting the Harvard presidency (1810); a letter to the Board pertaining to the furnishing of the president's house (1810); and a few letters referring to the inauguration of professors and commencement planning. Letters and a Corporation vote (signed by Kirkland) document the suspension of James L. Murray for infractions against College rules and Kirkland's attempt to provide for Murray's instruction while absent from College (1824). A form letter to John Forrester asks for donations to raise money on behalf of a Harvard Observatory (1824). A letter from Sidney Willard to Kirkland includes Willard's evaluation of Thomas Dobson's (1751-1823) Hebrew Bible; the first Hebrew Bible published in the United States in 1814.
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to Harvard Board of Overseers, 1810 October 1 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 23
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to Harvard Board of Overseers, 1810 October 5 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 24
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to Governor John Brooks, 1816 December 4 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 25
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to Ward Nichols Boylston, 1817 September 10 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 26
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to John Lowell, 1818 June 30 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 27
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to W.H. Gardiner, 1819 July 2 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 28
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to John Forrester, 1824 January 28 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 29
Acquisition Information: Transferred from Houghton Library, 1962.
Scope and Content: Printed form letter signed by Kirkland.
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to Reverend Conant, 1824 August 5 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 32
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to Joseph Willard, 1826 March 10 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 35
- Acknowledgement, signed by Kirkland, of a gift to the College Library of a book from author Peter S. DuPonceau, 1826 March 14 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 36
Acquisition Information: Purchased from Heritage Auction Galleries, 2011.
Scope and Content: Printed form letter.
2. Harvard University letterbooks, 1811-1828 (2 folders, 1 volume)
Processing Information: The 1811-1817 letterbook was disbound prior to the 2005 re-processing and the material placed in two folders.
Scope and Content: This sub-subseries consists of letterbooks containing handwritten copies of John T. Kirkland's outgoing letters (many in draft form and with cross-outs) from 1811 to 1828. It is unclear if all of the letters are in Kirkland's hand; some of the letters do not include Kirkland's signature, but are only initialed. The letters are addressed to various people including professors, members of the Board of Overseers, Fellows of the Corporation, and school administrators. They document the administration of Harvard University during Kirkland's presidency. The letters in these books often refer to votes of the Harvard Corporation and of the Board of Overseers; and many are concerned with routine administrative matters, such as the purchase of books for the library, salary increases for professors and officers, and gifts to Harvard. A number of the letters refer to student misbehavior and the expulsion of students from College; the establishment of various endowed professorships, including the Smith Professorship of the French and Spanish Languages and Literatures and the Royall Professorship of Law; and Kirkland's efforts to establish an astronomical observatory at Harvard (1815-1817). Other letters relate to the controversial resignation of Benjamin Waterhouse, Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physic in 1814; the course of study at the newly established Harvard Medical School in Boston in 1812; and Kirkland's continued role in the improvement of the College curriculum. Additionally, some of the letters provide a glimpse into student life at Harvard in the early nineteenth century by including comments on the mixed quality of food served to students at Harvard (1811) and a student request to form a military company on campus (1811).
- Letterbook, 1811-1814 UAI 15.880 Box 5, Folder 14
- Letterbook, 1815-1817 UAI 15.880 Box 5, Folder 15
- Letterbook, 1817-1828 UAI 15.880 Box 6
3. Resignation correspondence, 1828 (17 folders)
Processing Information: The documents in this sub-subseries were arranged chronologically by the archivist.
Scope and Content: This sub-subseries documents the resignation of John T. Kirkland as Harvard University president in April 1828 and illustrates the high esteem in which the students and faculty held Kirkland during his tenure as Harvard president. The sub-subseries contains Kirkland's letter of resignation and his farewell address to the students at Harvard; addresses given to Kirkland from Harvard alumni, Harvard officers and instructors, and the senior and sophomore classes, expressing their gratitude and affection towards Kirkland for his service to Harvard University. Harvard Corporation votes accepting Kirkland's resignation, acknowledging his service to the University, and continuing his salary until commencement are also found in this sub-subseries.
- Letter of resignation to the Fellows of Harvard University, 1828 March 28 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 38
- Farewell to students, 1828 April 1 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 39
in the appendix of Discourses on The Life and Character of John Thornton Kirkland and of Nathaniel Bowditch
by Alexander Young, (1840).
- Letter of transmittal from Francis Calley Gray, Secretary of the Corporation, to John T. Kirkland, 1828 April 2 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 40
- John T. Kirkland's response to the address of the resident officers and instructors of Harvard University, 1828 April UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 44
- Letter from John T. Kirkland to Dr. Lowell, [1828?] April 2 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 45
- Vote of the Senior class, 1828 April 2 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 46
- Letter of transmittal from Francis Calley Gray, Secretary of the Corporation, to John T. Kirkland, 1828 April 4 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 49
- Letter from Harvard University graduates to John T. Kirkland, 1828 April 8 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 50
- Letter from the graduate class residing in Newbury Port and its vicinity, 1828 May 12 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 51
- Vote of the Sophomore class, 1828 May 17 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 52
- Copies of papers relating to the resignation of President Kirkland of Harvard University, 1828 UAI 15.880 Box 1, Folder 53
Scope and Content
: This folder contains a notebook that includes handwritten copies of Kirkland's letter of resignation addressed to the Corporation of Harvard University, March 28, 1828; an address of President Kirkland to the students, delivered in the College Chapel after morning prayers, April 1, 1828; a letter from Francis C. Gray accompanied by a vote of the Corporation, April 2, 1828; a letter from Mr. Gray and vote of the Corporation, April 4, 1828; President Kirkland's reply to Mr. Gray, April 5, 1828; the address of the senior class to the President, presented to him the morning after he took leave of the College, April 2, 1828; and an address of the immediate government to Kirkland, April 2, 1828.
This book also includes a note dated May 14, 1797 at the end of the resignation material, which was probably written by Kirkland. The note states "Had the faculty of preaching some of my congregation to sleep this day. Tho' I suppose for my consolation the left part of them kept awake."
Series: III. Commonplace books, 1801, 1803-1819 (3 folders)
Scope and Content: This series consists of three commonplace books kept by John T. Kirkland from 1801 to 1819. The books coincide with Kirkland's service as a minister; there is very little material related to Harvard University in these books. Kirkland's extracted literary passages, questions, thoughts, and notes in these books document Kirkland's continued self-assessment as a minister and reflect his desire to improve his understanding and knowledge of Scripture. The books contain Kirkland's notes and reflections on a variety of religious topics such as the meaning of religion, man's relationship with God, miracles as justification, truth and justice, the origin of sacrifice, the destruction of Jerusalem, prophecy, miracles, and the corruption of virtue. Kirkland's notes refer to the books that he read and purchased; recount Kirkland's study of the Gospel, the Apostles, and the New Testament; mention some of the days that he preached and the topics he discussed; and record his attendance at funerals and ordinations. The books also include what appear to be extracts from sermons that Kirkland gave on various religious topics and Kirkland's versions of prayers of praise, adoration, petition, thanksgiving, intercession, and confession. Additionally, the 1803-1819 commonplace book (Box 2, Folder 3) contains recipes for pickled or corn beef, the preparation of veal, and a home remedy for rheumatism. The only reference to Harvard University in these commonplace books appears to be a food survey (Box 2, Folder 3) completed in 1819 to evaluate the quality of the food served to Harvard students. The survey assesses the condition of the bread, butter, coffee, meat, vegetables, and pudding given to students.
- Commonplace book, 1808-1809 UAI 15.880 Box 2, Folder 2
Series: IV. Notebooks, 1812-1837 and undated (7 folders)
: This series consists of two subseries:
Scope and Content: The notebooks in this series were compiled by John T. Kirkland from 1812 to 1837 and illustrate his role both as Harvard University president and as a minister. The entries in these notebooks vary in size from brief notations to a few pages, are arranged by date, and are predominantly in rough draft form, with cross-outs and corrections. The entries appear to be Kirkland's musings on a variety of topics related to both Harvard University and non-University matters. Kirkland's Harvard University notebooks compiled from 1812 to 1826 pertain to the administration of Harvard and refer to such topics as curriculum development, library funding, lecture and exercise schedules, the duties of professors and instructors, the establishment of committees, student disorder and misbehavior on campus, college curriculum reform, and methods of class instruction. Kirkland's Harvard University notebooks also refer to a wide variety of non-University topics, particularly to those related to his ministerial occupation. Scattered throughout the Harvard notebooks are Kirkland's notes on religious topics that were probably used in sermons or prayers. Kirkland's ministry notebooks from the 1830s are incomplete. The notebooks are marked as numbers four and five; presumably there were more notebooks at one time. Nonetheless, the ministry notebooks offer a glimpse into Kirkland's ministerial activities after his retirement from Harvard. The notebooks include selections from the Bible, Scripture, and prayers, and also contain a record of Kirkland's visits to support sick women in need of charity.
A. Harvard University notebooks, 1812-1826 and undated (5 folders)
Scope and Content
: The bulk of the material in Kirkland's Harvard University notebooks compiled from 1812 to 1826 pertains to University business; however, it appears that he also used the notebooks to record a variety of non-University facts and information. Kirkland's notebook entries on University business include but are not limited to topics such as the Harvard curriculum, library funding, the scheduling of lectures, exercises, and examinations, the duties of professors and instructors, and the establishment of committees. A large part of Kirkland's 1812-1817 notebook (Box 2, Folder 5) refers to student disorder on campus and includes Kirkland's recurring complaint that many Harvard students violate the schools rules against visiting the theatre in Boston, are drunk on campus, scream obscenities, and throw stones in the Yard. In this notebook, Kirkland records the observation that student misbehavior is the result of shortcomings in school regulations. He suggests that students be told not to throw stones in Harvard Yard or be allowed to leave recitations early. Kirkland's 1812-1825 notebook (Box 2, Folder 7) includes statistics on the number of exercises given by teachers, the average number of excused absences for students, and the average idle time at Harvard, including vacations and holidays. These statistics were probably gathered by Kirkland during the reform of the college curriculum in 1825. Although not entirely clear from Kirkland's notes, the statistics appear to have been used to revise the arrangement of exams and exercises at Harvard. This notebook also includes Kirkland's comparison of lecturing and private readings at Harvard as a method of instruction and a letter from Edward Everett (1794-1865), Harvard Professor of Greek Literature, to Kirkland (July 25, 1825) regarding the studies required of Harvard students. Kirkland's 1813-1826 notebook (Box 5, Folder 2) includes copies of letters written by Kirkland to unknown recipients on a variety of Harvard-related topics including attendance at the Dudleian lectures, the placing of a furnace in Harvard Hall, the reorganization of the college curriculum, and the presence of a professor at an examination of the freshman class.
Kirkland's non-University material in these notebooks refers to a wide variety of topics and includes his notes on beauty, poetry, youth, and the creation of the earth (Box 2, Folder 4). The notebooks include a chronology of the Roman Empire from 96 AD to the coronation of Charlemagne in 800 AD, Kirkland's notes on Church history, and his descriptions of flowering plants such as legumes, wolfsbane, and flowering ash (Box 2, Folder 6). A conspectus sectionum giving a view of the relationship of the New Testament Gospels and remarks on theology and ethics (Box 2, Folder 7) and Kirkland's notes (probably used in sermons or prayers) on the worship of God, indolence, man's laziness, prudence, faith, the power of the mind and metaphysics (Box 5, Folder 2) are also in these notebooks. A recipe for making rye can also be found in Kirkland's 1813-1826 notebook (Box 5, Folder 2).
- Harvard University Notebook, 1812-1817 UAI 15.880 Box 2, Folder 5
B. Ministry notebooks, ca. 1830s, 1837 (2 folders)
Scope and Content
: This subseries contains two Kirkland ministry notebooks from the 1830s that include selections from the Bible and Scripture that Kirkland probably used in sermons, prayers, or in giving religious or moral instruction after his retirement from Harvard University. The notebooks are marked as numbers four and five; presumably there were more notebooks at one time. Kirkland's notebook containing prayers and a record of visits to the sick (Box 2, Folder 9) chiefly consists of short entries documenting his visits to sick women who appear to have been in need of charity. Kirkland's entries in this notebook record the date of his visit, the name of the women he visited, their home addresses, a description of any illnesses the women might have had, and the sum of money he gave to help them.
These two notebooks are written in tête-bêche, with texts beginning at both the front and back covers rotated 180⁰ from one another.
- Notebook containing selections from scripture and prayers, number IV, [ca. 1830s] UAI 15.880 Box 2, Folder 8
- Notebook containing prayers and a record of visits to the sick, number V, 1837 UAI 15.880 Box 2, Folder 9
Series: V. Harvard University meeting minutes, 1810-1827 (12 folders)
Scope and Content
: This series contains President John T. Kirkland's memorandum books of informal meeting minutes from 1810 to 1827. The meeting minutes document the votes taken by the Harvard Corporation and illustrate the Corporation's decision making process during Kirkland's presidency. Although these books were found in Kirkland's papers, it is unclear whether the minutes are in Kirkland's own handwriting or were recorded by someone else. Many of the votes recorded in these memorandum books can be found in final form in the meeting minutes of the Harvard Corporation. The books are arranged by date and consist of drafts with cross-outs and notes.
The memorandum books refer to several College administration issues including the appointment and resignation of professors, tutors, lecturers, board members, and proctors; the construction of new College buildings including a new chapel, University Hall, Common Hall, and student bathing houses; the rules and regulations governing professorships and the use of the College library; and College financial transactions such as the purchase and sale of land, the establishment of salaries, appropriations for indigent students, and the acquisition of gifts for the College in the form of property, books, money, artwork, and scientific instruments. In addition, the 1818 memorandum book (Box 5, Folder 4) contains an explanation of how student quarterly bills were determined and assessed. This explanation includes a review of student tuition charges from 1798 to 1816 and a description of the costs associated with student rooms, the repair of College buildings, the cost of a janitor, sweeping services, and work done by repairmen. The memorandum books recount curriculum development at Harvard during Kirkland's presidency and refer to plans of instruction and lectures for professorships and departments; note the purchase of books and scientific instruments; and the establishment of professorships in the fields of law, the Greek language, chemistry, the French and Spanish languages, Latin, natural religion, natural history, and Biblical criticism. The memorandum books also refer to the rules and regulations developed by the Corporation to control student behavior and enforce student discipline on campus. The 1818-1819 memorandum book (Box 3, Folder 7) also includes a description of the fines issued to students for the quarter ending October 1, 1812 for absences or tardiness from prayers, private exercises, public worship, forensics, and absences from the College.
- Memorandum book, 1810-1811 UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 1
- Memorandum book, 1812-1813 UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 2
- Memorandum book, 1814-1815 UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 3
- Memorandum book, 1815-1816 UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 4
- Memorandum book, 1816-1817 UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 5
- Memorandum book, 1817 UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 6
- Memorandum book, leaves taken from a Corporation Waste Book, 1818 UAI 15.880 Box 5, Folder 3
- Memorandum book, 1819-1820 UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 8
- Memorandum book, 1820-1821 UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 9
- Memorandum book, 1822-1823 UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 10
Series: VI. Sermons, 1820,1826 and undated (4 folders)
Arrangement: The sermon notes found in this series were kept in the order in which they were found by the archivist.
Scope and Content: This series contains four untitled sermons given by John T. Kirkland in 1820 and 1826. Although an incomplete record of Kirkland's discourses, the sermons offer a glimpse into the style and character Kirkland's preaching, his spiritual point of view, and his answers to religious questions. The sermons present Kirkland's version of the meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ, how an individual should lead a life of charity, the significance of the goodwill of God and salvation, and how a person can lead a just life. The sermon notes chiefly consist of extracts taken from the Psalms and the New and Old Testaments. Although they are undated and have little apparent arrangement or connection with one another, the notes offer further insight into Kirkland's religious ideas and discussions.
- Sermon notes, undated UAI 15.880 Box 5, Folder 5
- Sermon notes, undated UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 11
- Sermons, 1820 UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 12
- Sermons, 1826 UAI 15.880 Box 3, Folder 13
Series: VII. Writings, 1799-1820s and undated (15 folders)
Processing Information: The writings in this series were arranged chronologically by the archivist.
Scope and Content: This series contains a small number of John T. Kirkland's writings from 1799 to the 1820s; chiefly written while he was a minister. Many of the writings in this series are in draft form, fragmentary, and incomplete. However, they do offer a glimpse into Kirkland's public interests, particularly in the fields of education and religion. Kirkland's principles of a sound education and his comments on the deficiencies of college education at Harvard and his proposed solutions can be found in his untitled manuscript on education (Box 5, Folder 7, fragments) and in his Remarks on Education in College, written whiles Kirkland was president of Harvard during a period of educational reform at Harvard in the 1820s (Box 4, Folder 8). Kirkland's views on religion and his opinions about the religious controversies of his time are illustrated in his examination of the election of Henry Ware (1764-1845) to the Hollis Professorship of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Harvard University (Box 4, Folder 6, incomplete manuscript) and in his defense of Reverend Abiel Abbott (1765-1859), after Abbott's dismissal for heresy from his church in Coventry, Connecticut in 1811 (Box 5, Folder 8). Moreover, many of his notes, although fragmentary and incomplete, are religious in nature and foster an understanding of Kirkland's religious outlook (Box 5, Folders 9-12). In addition to Kirkland's view on education and religion, this series contains Kirkland's fragmentary notes on astronomy, his comments on the character of the government of the city state of Florence in Italy, a brief description of Indian missionary work and the founding of Dartmouth College, a poetic criticism of Napoleon Bonaparte's war in Egypt (1799-1801), reflections on the death of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), and Kirkland's biographical sketch of Massachusetts Congressman Fisher Ames (1758-1808).
- Astronomical notes UAI 15.880 Box 5, Folder 6
Florence UAI 15.880 Box 4, Folder 1
- [Manuscript on education] UAI 15.880 Box 5, Folder 7
- Notes (2 of 4) UAI 15.880 Box 5, Folder 10
- Notes (3 of 4) UAI 15.880 Box 5, Folder 11
- Notes (4 of 4) UAI 15.880 Box 5, Folder 12
A Reflection (poetical) UAI 15.880 Box 4, Folder 3
A Thought on Bonaparte (poetical) UAI 15.880 Box 4, Folder 4
- [Sketch of Alexander Hamilton upon his death] UAI 15.880 Box 4, Folder 5
- Review of [The True Reasons on which the Election of a Hollis Professor of Divinity in Harvard College, was opposed at the Board of Overseers, by Jedidiah Morse] UAI 15.880 Box 4, Folder 6
- Notices of Fisher Ames, preface to Works of Fisher Ames UAI 15.880 Box 4, Folder 7
: John T. Kirkland's biography of Fisher Ames
can be found in the Works of Fisher Ames. Compiled by a number of his friends. To which are prefixed, notices of his life and character
A vigorous defense of the Reverend Abiel Abbot and severe criticism of the Assembly which "decreed that he forfeited both his parish and his office" UAI 15.880 Box 5, Folder 8
Remarks on Education in College UAI 15.880 Box 4, Folder 8