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UAI 15.860

Mather, Increase, 1639-1723. Papers of Increase Mather: an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: UAI 15.860
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Mather, Increase, 1639-1723.
Title: Papers of Increase Mather, 1683-1717.
Date(s): 1683-1717
Quantity: 0.1 cubic feet (9 documents in 1 folio box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Increase Mather was the sixth president of Harvard College, serving as acting president from 1685 to 1686, as rector from 1686 to 1692, and as president from 1692 to 1701. This collection consists of one letter to Abraham Kick concerning an order of books, five letters to Sir William Ashurst regarding political concerns of the Massachusetts colony and Harvard College, and a letter to Harvard treasurer John Richards regarding College account books. One page of notes cites Mather's concerns regarding the religious views of the Harvard Corporation.

Acquisition Information:

The Papers of Increase Mather were acquired by the Harvard University Archives through donation and purchase as follows:
  • [1936 or 1937] Spaulding donation:
  • ___Letter from Increase Mather to Abraham Kick
  • 1973 Bernard Quaritch Ltd., Antiquarian Booksellers of London:
  • ___Letter from Increase Mather to Sir William Ashurst, 1709 December 5
  • ___Letter from Increase Mather to Sir William Ashurst, 1709/10 January 19
  • ___Letter from Increase Mather to Sir William Ashurst, 1709/10 February 13
  • ___Letter from Increase Mather to Sir William Ashurst, 1710 November 8
  • ___Letter from Increase Mather to Sir William Ashurst, 1717 August 12
  • Processing Note:

    This material was first classified and described by the Harvard University Archives prior to 1980. The collection was reprocessed in 2004, with subsequent preparation for digitization in 2009. Reprocessing involved a collection survey, rehousing in size- and format-appropriate archival folders and boxes, and the creation of this finding aid. Preparation for digitization involved updates to the finding aid and the addition of links to the digital copies.
    The digitization of Increase Mather's papers was made possible in part by generous support from the Sidney Verba Fund.

    Conditions on Use and Access:

    The Papers of Increase Mather are open for research use. Access to fragile original documents may be restricted. Please consult the reference staff for further details.

    Preferred Citation:

    Mather, Increase, 1639-1723. Papers of Increase Mather, 1639-1717. UAI 15.860, Harvard University Archives.

    Related Material

    Biography

    Increase Mather (1639-1723) was the sixth president of Harvard College, serving as acting president from 1685 to 1686, rector from 1686 to 1692, and president from 1692 to 1701.
    Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Mather received his A.B. from Harvard in 1656, and an A.M. degree from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1658. Mather preached in England and Guernsey until 1661, when he returned to Massachusetts and was ordained as minister at the North Church in Boston, a position he held for sixty years. While in England, Mather married Maria Cotton (1662-1714), with whom he had ten children. Their eldest child was Cotton Mather (1663-1728), the influential minister notable for his involvement in the Salem witch trials. Shortly after Maria's death in 1714, Mather married Ann Lake Cotton (1663-1737).
    A staunch proponent of Puritan religious orthodoxy, Increase Mather defended religious uniformity in New England and supported the enforcement of a strict moral code in Massachusetts.
    Mather's administrative tenure at Harvard lasted sixteen years, beginning with his appointment as acting president in 1685. During this time he retained his ministry in Boston, refusing to live in Cambridge, and spent much of his time in England where he pursued political matters on behalf of the Massachusetts colony. He also sought unsuccessfully to replace the Harvard Charter of 1650 with a royal charter, believing that this would provide a stronger legal foundation for the College.
    Although Mather's influence as president of Harvard was limited, he revised the College curriculum, restoring instruction in Greek and Hebrew and emphasizing the use of Biblical and Christian writings in the teaching of ethics. He also rewrote the College laws to require student residence in dormitories, attendance at meals, and regular attendance at lectures and recitations.
    Opposition to Mather's presidency and his perceived lack of attention to the College eventually grew strong enough to force his resignation from Harvard in 1701. He continued in his Boston ministry for another twenty years. Increase Mather died in 1723.
    Footnote on date conventions
    Please note that descriptions of documents dated between January 1 and March 25 before 1752 have been cited with the double date convention, e.g., 1649/50 February 27. This convention was used in England and the North American colonies between 1582 and 1752. The first date refers to the year by the Julian calendar, which began on March 25, while the second refers to the year by the Gregorian calendar, which began on January 1.
    References:

    Footnote on date conventions

    Please note that descriptions of documents dated between January 1 and March 25 before 1752 have been cited with the double date convention, e.g., 1649/50 February 27. This convention was used in England and the North American colonies between 1582 and 1752. The first date refers to the year by the Julian calendar, which began on March 25, while the second refers to the year by the Gregorian calendar, which began on January 1.

    References:

    Scope of the Papers of Increase Mather

    This collection contains letters and one page of notes written by Increase Mather between 1683 and 1717. Most of this material describes Mather's efforts to secure a royal charter for Harvard College and to protect the legacy left to the College by Robert Boyle. Mather's concerns regarding the religious beliefs held by members of the Harvard Corporation are also addressed.

    General

    This document last updated 2015 November 12.

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