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Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 442
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Augusta Jane Chapin, 1836-1905
Title: Papers of Augusta Jane Chapin, 1856-1914
Quantity: .21 linear feet (1/2 file box)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, programs, lecture notices, etc., of Augusta Jane Chapin, Universalist minister and lecturer.
Augusta Jane Chapin, Universalist minister, lecturer, teacher, and traveler, was born on July 16, 1836, in Lakeville, New York, the first child of Jane (Pease) and Almon Morris Chapin. When Chapin was six years old the family moved to Eden, Michigan, where Almon Morris Chapin, formerly a merchant, became a postmaster and farmer. Chapin started school at the age of three. At 16 she left home to attend Olivet College (Olivet, Michigan), a Congregational school, and then went on to Michigan Female College. It was during her college years that religion came to play a central role in her life and that she decided to accept the Universalist creed.Chapin did not earn an undergraduate degree. She taught school in Lansing and Lyons, Michigan, and took courses in languages, mathematics, and art. In May 1859 she preached her first sermon in Portland, Michigan, and became an itinerant preacher. She was ordained December 3, 1863. Her first settled pastorate was in Portland (1864-1867), and her last in Mt. Vernon, New York (1897-1901). She also served as a minister at Unity Church in Oak Park, Illinois.Chapin was a charter member of Sorosis, a New York women's club, and the Association for the Advancement of Women: she read a paper at its first meeting in 1873. She attended suffrage conventions, lectured on various subjects, and played an instrumental role in organizing the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions held at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Teaching also continued to occupy her time. She lectured on literature and art at Lombard University (Galesburg, Illinois), and the University of Chicago. In 1868 Lombard awarded Chapin an honorary M.A. and in 1893 an honorary Doctor of Divinity.In her later years she lived in New York City, traveled independently, and led group tours abroad. She was planning to guide another tour when she became ill with pneumonia. She died on June 30, 1905.For more biographical information, see Notable American Women (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), which includes a list of additional sources. Other Chapin papers are also listed in Women's History Sources (1979).
These papers of Augusta Jane Chapin are divided into two sections. Biographical and professional (#1-5) includes an unpublished article about Chapin by the donor, Glory Southwind, programs and leaflets documenting Chapin's participation in various pursuits, Chapin speeches and one article, and correspondence.Family correspondence (#6-13), the second section, is arranged chronologically. It includes letters to and from Chapin, her parents, siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, et al. It provides information about the Chapin family farm, health, and finances; the jobs, lives and deaths of Chapin's siblings and other relatives; the education of nieces and nephews; friends and neighbors. Of particular interest are a brother's 1894 letters from California (#8) about unrest due to unemployment. Chapin's letters help document her movements, some of her activities, her travels abroad, and her relations with nieces and nephews. There is nothing about her childhood, and very little about her education, teaching, churches, or congregations.