Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Thomas Samuel Hastings papers, 1845 -- 1911

Summary Information


Thomas Samuel Hastings was a Presbyterian pastor of New York City and professor and president of Union Theological Seminary. The collection consists of correspondence, writings, and scrapbooks relating to activities of the seminary and the debate concerning the Presbyterian Creed. Included in the collection are also a notebook of his father, Thomas Hastings (1784-1872), and a travel diary that may be of his son, Thomas Hastings (1860-1920).

At a Glance

Bib ID 4492456 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Hastings, Thomas S (Thomas Samuel), 1827-1911; Hastings, Thomas, 1784-1872
Title Thomas Samuel Hastings papers, 1845 -- 1911
Physical Description 3 linear feet (3.0 linear feet; 7 boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is open for research.

The following boxes are located offsite: Series 1 Box 1, Series 2 Box 1-3, Series 3 Box 1-2, Series 4 Box 1. Please note that requests for use of boxes held in offsite storage must be made three business days in advance.



This collection is arranged in four series: Series 1: Correspondence; Series 2: Sermons; Series 3: Scrapbooks; and Series 4: General.


Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence, predominantly written by Hastings to John C. Brown, Charles Butler, and J.M. Ludlow; handwritten sermons, plans, and notes; scrapbooks and diaries; programs; photographs; and other memorabilia.

  • Series 1: Correspondence, 1888 -- 1904

    This series contains correspondence, predominantly written by Hastings to John C. Brown, Charles Butler, and J.M. Ludlow, but occasionally letters not of Hastings' authorship or other documents are enclosed. The letters are chiefly concerned with the business of Union Theological Seminary, such as faculty appointments, curriculum planning, and financial matters, but personal matters, such as the progress of Brown's son, Williams Adams Brown, as a professor at the seminary and the death of Hastings' son, are occasionally referenced. The correspondence with John C. Brown also contains extensive discussion of matters relating to the Charles Briggs heresy trials. Most of the letters are handwritten, but some later correspondence is typewritten.

  • Series 2: Sermons, circa 1860 -- 1898

    This series contains handwritten sermons, which are mostly numbered and include emendations and related notes. Most of the sermons have notations written on the verso of the first page that appear to indicate locations and dates of their preaching. Box 3, folder 8 contains a volume with "Skeletons" printed on the cover and chiefly contains numbered expository lectures on Christ's acts. Box 3, folders 9-11 contain typed lecture notes and hymns that were originally held in a single, three-ring binder.

  • Series 3: Scrapbooks, circa 1846 -- 1890

    This series contains a diary printed for the year 1846 with the title "Ministerial Nativities and Changes" written in pen on the cover. A handwritten note on the title page verso indicates that it is "in the handwriting of Dr. Edwin F. Hatfield, stated clerk of the Presbyterian General Assembly." Dr. Hatfield served as a special agent to Union Theological Seminary in 1864 and 1870. The volume does not appear to have been used as a diary or datebook and instead mostly contains ledger-like notations on subjects such as ordinations and licensures. Folder 2 contains a scrapbook of writings, news clippings, invitations, programs, and other printed matter relating to committee work at Union Theological Seminary, as well as a printed letter dated May 8, 1899 from Charles Cuthbert Hall to the senior class. Folder 3 contains a scrapbook of letters, clippings, and notes relating to the General Assembly's committee on revision of the confession of faith collected by Hastings. Box 2, folder 1 contains a scrapbook of news clippings that may be said to be of an inspirational nature. A handwritten index to the clippings appears at the beginning of the volume and additional notes in pencil occasionally appear.

  • Series 4: General, 1845 -- 1911

    This series contains, in Folder 1, two copies (one clothbound) of the program for the inaugural services of Hastings as professor of sacred rhetoric on September 22, 1881. Folder 2 contains a program for the memorial service held in Hastings' honor on April 28, 1911. Folder 3 contains a travel diary describing a European tour in 1903. Folder 4 contains two photographs: one in which Hastings appears with eleven other men and which may have been taken at Hamilton College and a second that depicts the Eills family and may have been sent to Hastings in celebration of the New Year. Folder 5 contains an additional travel diary describing a European tour in 1883; however, given certain qualities of the diary, such as certain terms employed, the youthful tone of the writing, and devotion to describing works of art and architecture encountered in detail, it appears that it is likely to have been written by Hastings' son, the architect Thomas Hastings (1860-1929). Folder 6 contains a diary of Hastings' father, Thomas Hastings (1784-1872). The volume includes handwritten verse and what appear to be notes regarding hymns, as well as journal entries beginning in 1845.

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, Series 2 Box 1-3, Series 3 Box 1-2, Series 4 Box 1. 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.

Preferred Citation

Item description, UTS1: Thomas Samuel Hastings papers, series #, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Related Materials

J. C. Brown Papers, box #, folder#, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Custodial History

The papers are part of the Union Theological Seminary Archives, which comprises institutional and administrative records of the Seminary, combined with the papers of many organizations, scholars, pastors, laypersons, and others connected with the school. The materials in this collection were part of a large group of unprocessed material that was organized in 2015.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The volume contained in series 2, box 3, folder 7 and the scrapbook in series 3, box 1, folder 2 were presented by Hastings' daughters, Mrs. C.B. Foote and Miss Isabel Hastings, in January, 1914.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Processing Information

Correspondence, diaries, sermons, scrapbooks, lectures, notebooks, memorial services, inaugural service material was cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-07-11. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Metal clips and staples were removed from materials and folded items were flattened. In some cases, acidic items were separated from one another by interleaving with acid-free paper. Photographs were placed in Mylar envelopes. The finding aid was created by Katherine Palm in 2015 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2023.

Revision Description

2023-01-09 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Diaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sermons Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Clergy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College presidents Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Europe -- Description and travel Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hastings, Thomas S (Thomas Samuel), 1827-1911 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hastings, Thomas, 1784-1872 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hymn writers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hymns Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hymns -- History and criticism Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. -- : Creeds Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Presbyterians -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scrapbooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theologians Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theological seminaries -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Union Theological Seminary (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Samuel Hastings was born on August 28, 1827 in Utica, New York. Ordained in the Presbyterian faith, Hastings spent three decades in the ministry, predominantly serving at West Presbyterian Church in New York City. He then took on professorial and administrative roles at Union Theological Seminary, during a time of great debate within the Presbyterian faith regarding the revision of the Westminster Confession. Hastings' father, Thomas Hastings (1784-1872), was a well-known hymnist, tunebook compiler, and composer of sacred music. His mother, Mary Hastings née Seymour (1788-1880), was a founder of the Utica Maternal Association, which was formed to provide religious education for its members' children. Hastings had two older sisters, Mary and Catherine Eunice. In 1832, Hastings' father moved the family to New York City, where Hastings grew up. Hastings received a bachelor of arts from Hamilton College in 1848 and later served as a trustee for the college from 1864 to 1871 and 1881 to 1883. He graduated from Union Theological Seminary in 1851, remaining as resident licentiate for the following year. He later received several honorary degrees: a D.D. from the University of the City of New York (now New York University) in 1865, an L.L.D. from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1888, and an L.H.D. from Hamilton College in 1897. Hastings married Fannie de Groot (1828-1903), the daughter of Henry and Mary Nesbit de Groot of Brooklyn, New York, on July 1, 1852. A few days later, on July 7, 1852, Hastings was ordained in the Fourth Presbytery of New York and he then took up his first pastorship in Mendham, New Jersey, where he served from 1852 to 1856. He then became pastor of West Presbyterian Church in New York City, where he remained until 1882. Hastings' formal association with Union Theological Seminary began upon his acceptance of a position as professor of sacred rhetoric in 1881. He was a director from 1864 to 1881 and president from 1887 to 1897. Following his retirement in 1904, he became a professor emeritus and continued as a lecturer in pastoral theology until 1911. During his tenure as president, Hastings presided over a number of changes of note, such as the move from a system in which students took prescribed courses each year to a departmental system allowing for electives, and the admission of female students. Additionally, he lead the seminary during the tumultuous period of the trials of faculty member Charles Briggs, who faced heresy charges in connection with the lecture that he gave upon his inauguration as professor of biblical theology, "The Authority of Holy Scripture." Hastings died suddenly at his home in New York City in 1911. He was survived by his two daughters, Mrs. Charles B. Foote and Isabel Hastings, as well as his sons, Frank Seymour Hastings (1852-1924), a banker also known as a yachtsman and amateur composer, and Thomas Hastings (1860-1929), an architect and principal of the firm Carrère and Hastings, which held the commission for a number of high-profile projects, such as the New York Public Library.