|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in two series: Series 1: Memorial Books; and Series 2: Sermons.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains bound "In Memoriam" books which include family notices, sermons and addresses, tributes to Dr. Adams, correspondence, letters and reminiscences on Dr. Adams's work at the seminary, clippings, and other materials, as well as sermons written by Adams from the 1830s through the mid-1870s.
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
This collection is open for research.
The following boxes are located offsite: Series 1 Box 1-5, Series 2 Box 1-24. Please note that requests for use of boxes held in offsite storage must be made three business days in advance.
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: William Adams papers, series #, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
A number of materials have been noted missing since 2004, including sermons #1-61 (original box 1), correspondence between William Adams and his parents and other family members, and a journal of engagements.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Exact provenance unknown. The bound materials in Series 1 are stamped that materials were presented by the family of Dr. William Adams Brown to the UTS library in January 1950.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Some material cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-07-06. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. The materials were reprocessed and organized as part of the Henry Luce Foundation Grant in 2015; box numbers were changed at this time (to view a chart showing the differences between the old and new numbers, please contact Burke Library staff). The finding aid was created by Brigette C. Kamsler in 2015 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2021.
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.
2021-11-09 EAD spot checked and corrected and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
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 for two to three years after that; 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. William Adams died in Orange Mountain, New Jersey, on August 31, 1880 after an extended illness.