|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in one series in rough chronological order.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains three study notebooks written at different points by the three members of the Marsh family, as well as correspondence and notes dated 1978 between John M. Cox (then the seminary library archivist's assistant) and the Curator of Manuscripts at Harvard's Houghton Library, concerning the provenance of the manuscripts when they were uncovered in the Union Theological Seminary's vault in 1976. The first manuscript was written by Ebenezer Grant in 1795, and contains biographical and regional information on civic and religious leaders in New England. The Ebenezer Grant notebook is entitled, "Lists of the Governors, Lt. Governors, Counsellors/Judges and Members of Congress/ in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, as far as can be ascertained from the first settlement of the country. Likewise the names of all the Ministers in the same states – the times when they were ordained when they were dismissed or when they died and the times when the churches were first gathered. Compiled from various sources, by Eben.r G. Marsh, N Haven, Sep. 1795." The second volume consists of notes written by John Marsh the Younger entitled "Observations upon the Bible/Began June 1807/by John Marsh." The final notebook contains biographical entries of New England civic and religious leaders before and contemporaneous to John Marsh the Elder's time; this manuscript was likely written by Marsh the Elder.
Burke Library record group:
Union Theological Seminary Archives: UTS 1, papers of faculty and students
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.
Item description, UTS1: Marsh Family manuscripts, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
The Marsh Family Manuscripts were found in the vault of the Burke Library in 1976. This collection was among a large group of unprocessed materials that were organized in 2017 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The exact provenance of this collection is unknown; however, John Marsh the Younger (1788-1868) was the father of John Tallmadge Marsh (UTS, 1848), which is possibly the context in which these materials were donated to Union.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
After they were removed from the Burke vault, materials were placed in acid-free envelopes and lain flat in an acid-free document box. The finding aid was created by Rebecca Nieto in 2017 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2022.
2022-04-26 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
John Marsh the Elder was an American ecclesiastical leader in the colonial and early national period. He was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut on November 2, 1742. The son of a deacon and himself a "good genius and scholar" with a predilection for religious studies from an early age, Marsh graduated from Harvard College in 1761 at the age of 14 and continued his study of theology in ministerial roles in the neighboring towns of Hampton, Chelmsford, Westford, Waltham, and Old South Boston. He was eventually established as pastor of First Congregational Church in Wethersfield, potentially because his hometown had a strongly Puritan following. He married Anne Grant, daughter of Colonel Ebenezer Grant, on December 5, 1775. A moderate Calvinist, Marsh held that "natural religion presented as many incomprehensible mysteries as revealed religion, and in the latter, no one should be held to any doctrine that was 'repugnant to reason'" (Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 1761-1763). In addition to his parsonage, Marsh was a founder of Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, was involved with the Massachusetts Historical Society, and "enthusiastically gathered biographical data" that was used to compile many early biographical writings on religious figures in the early national period throughout New England; the manuscript in this collection bearing Marsh's name consists of biographical data concerning governors and ministry figures in New England. John Marsh the Elder died in Wethersfield on September 13, 1821. Among his children were two sons, John Marsh the Younger and Ebenezer Grant Marsh.
John Marsh the Younger (1788-1868) was born on April 2, 1788, and baptized by his father on April 6th. The younger Marsh was predisposed to the study of theology, and at ten began to study under preacher and Hamilton College president Azel Backus in Bethlehem, Connecticut. He entered Yale College when he was twelve, graduating in 1804 at the age of 16. Marsh taught for a number of years before his ordination in the Congregational Church of Haddam, Connecticut on December 16, 1818. He married Frances Fowler Tallmadge. Their son, John Tallmadge Marsh was born in Haddam, and later attended Union Theological Seminary, class of 1849. (It is likely that John Tallmadge Marsh's affiliation to the seminary led to the library's acquisition of his relatives' papers.) A staunch supporter of temperance, John Marsh the Younger served as secretary and general agent with the burgeoning Connecticut Temperance Society, eventually leaving his congregation in 1833 to devote himself fully to that cause. He eventually moved from Connecticut to Philadelphia, where he served as secretary with the American Temperance Union and worked as editor of its monthly publication, Journal of the American Temperance Union, remaining there until 1865. In 1852, he received a Doctorate of Divinity from Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, and eventually settled in Brooklyn, New York until his death on August 4, 1868. His wife Anne predeceased him in 1852, and he was survived by two sons and three daughters.
Ebenezer Grant Marsh (alternately spelled Ebeneezer) was the eldest son of John Marsh and older sibling to John Marsh the Younger. Born on February 2, 1777, Marsh was baptized by his father five days later. Dexter's Yale Biographies describes Ebenezer as standing out among the youngest and brightest in his class at Yale College, where he graduated in 1795. He was particularly drawn to the study of Hebrew, delivering a Hebrew oration at his Yale graduation, eventually becoming an undergraduate and graduate instructor in Hebrew at Yale as early as 1798. In 1801, Marsh was licensed by the New Haven East Association of Ministers, and a year later was appointed a professorship in Languages and Ecclesiastical History at Yale. After suffering acute complications from cancer, Marsh died in his father's Wethersfield home on November 16, 1803. He was twenty seven years old.