|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
Scope and Content
Presbyterian minister, pastoral theologian, UTS professor and president, maternal grandfather of William Adams Brown. Collection contains sermons and memorial books.
Part of Union Theological Seminary Collection
Using the Collection
The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Item description, UTS1: William Adams Papers, series #, box #, and folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Sermon outlines, lecture outlines, scrapbooks, commonplace books, treasurer's book, correspondence, memorial books Cataloged Lynn A. Grove 07/06/88.
2010-12-13 XML instance created by Brigette C. Kamsler
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
William Adams was born in Colchester, Connecticut on January 25, 1807 to Elizabeth Ripley and John Adams (1772-1863). His father John was an eminent teacher and philanthropist, who graduated from Yale in 1795. William Adams attended Phillips Academy (where his father was the principal), followed by Yale College (1823-1827); Andover Theological Seminary (1827-1830), and resident licentiate at Andover Theological Seminary (1830-1831). He was ordained by the Congregational Council on February 2, 1831.
William Adams was appointed pastor soon after in Brighton, Massachusetts, followed by an appointment at the Broome Street Central Presbyterian in New York City from 1834-1853. After that he became pastor at Madison Square Presbyterian Church in New York City from 1853-1873, where he enlisted support of some of the members and friends of the church for Union Theological Seminary. During this period of time, Adams earned a Doctor of Divinity from the University of the City of New York in 1842, and Doctor of Laws from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) in 1869.
William Adams was married to Miss Susan P. Magoun of Medford, Massachusetts soon after entering the ministry. Susan lived a short time after that for two to three years; after her death, William Adams married Susan's sister Martha, with whom he had four children: Mary Elizabeth Adams, William Adams Jr., Thatcher M. Adams, and a fourth daughter who was the wife of Eugene Delano of Philadelphia.
William Adams' daughter, Mary Elizabeth Adams, married John Crosby Brown in the early 1860's. They would have six children, one of whom was William Adams Brown (born 1865).
William Adams was a founder, director, and occasional part-time teacher at Union, well-known preacher and author, and key figure in Presbyterian reunion. William Adams was professor extraordinary in Sacred Rhetoric at Union Theological Seminary from 1838-1840 and an instructor of Church Polity from 1871-1872. He was a director at UTS from 1836-1880; and was appointed the third president of the Seminary, also serving as Brown Professor of Sacred Rhetoric from 1873-1880.
Adams was very effective at raising funds for the Seminary during his presidency, procuring hundreds of thousands of dollars for the organization to renovate the seminary's buildings and build a new fireproof library. Adams was active and respected in the field, welcoming participants from the Sixth General Conference of the World Evangelical Alliance in New York in October 1873, raising Union's status in church life.
Adams was also known and appreciated for his work with the students and faculty: "He touched the lives of students most directly in their senior year, when he met the class daily for work in homiletics. His successor in the presidency was to say of his seven years at Union, 'The whole institution was toned up. Professors and Students, equally and all, felt the magnetism of his courtly and stimulating presence. On all public occasions, he was our ornament and pride.'"
William Adams died in Orange Mountain, New Jersey, on August 31, 1880 after an extended illness.