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HUM 93

Gilman family. Papers of the Gilman and Bowen families, 1791-1920 : an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUM 93
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Gilman family.
Title: Papers of the Gilman and Bowen families, 1791-1920.
Date(s): 1791-1920
Quantity: 0.22 cubic feet (1 legal half document box)
Abstract: The collection documents the careers and families of two Unitarian ministers active in the United States in the 19th century: Samuel Gilman and his son-in-law, Charles J. Bowen. Samuel Gilman, Unitarian minister and author of "Fair Harvard," was born on February 16, 1791, to Frederick and Abigail (Somes) Gilman in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Charles James Bowen, Unitarian minister, was born on May 20, 1827, in Providence, Rhode Island to Henry and Harriet Amanda (Munro) Bowen. The collection also contains three late 18th century items pertaining to Joseph Priestly, a founder of Unitarianism in England, and to the Birmingham Riots (also known as the Priestly Riots) that occurred in 1791 in Birmingham, England.

Acquisition Information:

Accession 18278: Deborah C. Coons, June 17, 2011
Acession 19548: Deborah C. Coons, November 7, 2012

Processing Note:

Juliana Kuipers processed this collection in June 2011. Processing involved a collection survey, rehousing items in appropriate archival containers, and the creation of this finding aid.
This finding aid was created by Juliana Kuipers in June 2011.
Preservation and description of the Papers of the Gilman and Bowen families was supported, in part, by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

Conditions on Use and Access:

The Papers of the Gilman and Bowen families are open for research use.

Preferred Citation:

Gilman family. Papers of the Gilman and Bowen families, 1791-1920. HUM 93, Harvard University Archives.

Related Materials

At the Harvard University Archives

At the Andover-Theological Library

At the American Antiquarian Society

Biographical notes on Samuel Gilman and the Gilman family

Samuel Gilman, Unitarian minister and author of "Fair Harvard," was born on February 16, 1791, to Frederick and Abigail (Somes) Gilman in Gloucester, Massachusetts. At the time of his birth, the Gilman family was living in the house previously owned by Judith Sargent Murray and her second husband, John Murray. Gilman entered Harvard College in 1807, at the age of 16, and received his AB in 1811. While an undergraduate student, he met his future wife, Caroline Howard, who was born in Boston on October 1, 1794 to Samuel and Anna (Lillie) Howard. Samuel and Caroline married in Cambridge, Massachusetts on September 25, 1819; they had seven children, three of whom died in infancy. Among their children was Annie Margaret Gilman. After the birth and death of her sixth child in 1831, Caroline Howard Gilman returned to an early love of writing, becoming one of the most popular women writers of the first half of the 19th century.
From 1817-1819, Gilman worked at Harvard as a tutor, while also studying theology in the area. Following their marriage, the Gilmans moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where Samuel had accepted a position as pastor of the Second Independent Church (which became the Unitarian Church in Charleston in 1839). He served the church until his death on February 9, 1858. Although he spent the majority of his career in the South, Gilman frequently returned to his New England roots, including his alma mater. In 1815, he was privileged to deliver the Phi Beta Kappa poem. In 1836, he composed the poem, "Fair Harvard," in honor of Harvard's bicentennial. The following year, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of divinity by the College, and in 1848, he delivered the Dudleian lecture.
Following Samuel's death in 1858, Caroline remained in the South through the Civil War. She died in Washington, D.C. on September 15, 1888.

Biographical notes on Charles J. Bowen and the Bowen family

Charles James Bowen, Unitarian minister, was born on May 20, 1827, in Providence, Rhode Island to Henry and Harriet Amanda (Munro) Bowen. He received his AB from Brown University in 1847 and completed the course of study at the Harvard Divinity School in 1850. On November 4 of that year, he married Annie Margaret Gilman, daughter of Samuel and Caroline Howard Gilman. Together they had two children: Lillian and Samuel Gilman Bowen. In his career as a Unitarian minister, Bowen held pastorates in Newburyport, Massachusetts (1850-1853), Kingston, Massachusetts (1855-1858), Baltimore, Maryland (1858-1862), and Roxbury, Massachusetts (1865-1870). During the Civil War, he worked as a hospital chaplain. Bowen died on April 11, 1870.

Historical note regarding Joseph Priestly and the Birmingham Riots of 1791

Joseph Priestly (1733-1804), was an English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, and natural philosopher. An advocate for toleration and equal rights for religious Dissenters (Christians separated from the Church of England), he was a founder of Unitarianism in England. In 1780, Priestly moved to Birmingham and was appointed minister of the New Meeting Society. In July 1791, he became the target of the Birmingham Riots (also known as the Priestly Riots). During the riots, which were sparked by a growing division between the Dissenters and the Anglicans due to the Dissenters' efforst to repeal the Test and Corporation Act, which restricted their civil rights, and their support of the French Revolution, Priestly's home and church were burned. Priestly was forced to flee with his family to London. In 1793, he and his wife emigrated to the United States.

Arrangement

Items are arranged chronologically within each series.

Series in the Collection

Scope of the Papers of the Gilman and Bowen families

The collection documents the careers and families of two Unitarian ministers active in the United States in the 19th century: Samuel Gilman and his son-in-law, Charles J. Bowen. The collection contains correspondence, cartes-de-visite, and sermons. It also contains a small amount of material documenting Gilman's undergraduate years at Harvard College, as well as three late 18th century items pertaining to Joseph Priestly, a founder of Unitarianism in England, and to the Birmingham Riots (also known as the Priestly Riots) that occurred in 1791 in Birmingham, England.

General

This document last updated 2015 November 12.

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