|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is organized in one unarranged series.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains a commonplace book, including scholarly notes, sermon drafts, autobiographical passages, and an copious index; as well as lecture notes, ministerial and personal correspondence, clippings, memorials, and biographical and family genealogical material.
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.
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: Thomas Harvey Skinner papers, circa 1832-2005, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
A bound volume of Skinner's writings was acquired by Linda and John Stroud of Stroud Theological Booksellers in 1984. This text, "The Theological Common-Place Book" and an accompanying file of lectures formed the foundation of the Skinner Papers. A 2005 addition was donated by Diana Lanier Smith, a descendent of Dr. Skinner.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
The commonplace book was cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-07-13. Metal clips and staples were removed from materials and folded items were flattened. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Acidic items were separated from one another by interleaving with acid-free paper as needed. Any items in an advanced state of deterioration were placed in Mylar envelopes. 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.
2022-08-01 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Thomas Harvey Skinner (1791-1871) was born near Harvey's Neck, North Carolina on March 7, 1791. He was the son of Baptist parents (before their marriage his father had been an Episcopalian, his mother a Quaker), and was the seventh of thirteen children. He attended college at Princeton (then the College of New Jersey), where he graduated in 1809. Skinner originally made plans to study law in Edenton, North Carolina. Two significant life events coincided with Skinner's studies that marked a divergence from this path. He was moved to conversion by the sermon of a traveling preacher and from the death of his brother. He left his studies and was ordained in the Presbytery of Philadelphia on June 10, 1813. During his spiritual transformation, he studied with Henry Kollock of Savannah, Georgia, and John McDowell of Elizabethtown, New Jersey. He then served as co-pastor in Philadelphia from 1813 to 1816, then as pastor in the same congregation from 1816 through 1832. Following his initial years in the ministry, Skinner became a professor of Sacred Rhetoric at Andover Theological Seminary, a position he held briefly from 1833 to 1835. Skinner's tenure at Andover was truncated when he joined the faculty and founding faculty member of Union Theological Seminary. There, he taught Sacred Rhetoric (the first professor to hold this post), Pastoral Theology, and Church Government from 1836 to 1840. He was promoted to the Davenport professorship at Union, a position he held from 1848 to 1871. He was director of this same program beginning in 1857. According to obituary documentation and his descendants' testimony, Reverend Skinner married twice; first to Emily Montgomery, with whom he had four children, Maria, Thomas Harvey Jr., Caroline, and Martha Ann. Following her death, he married Frances Louisa Davenport of New Haven, Connecticut, with whom he also had four children: Helen, James, Frances and Mary. Skinner predeceased his wife upon his death in New York City on February 1, 1871. Many of Skinner's peers spoke highly of him at his memorial, including Dr. Henry B. Smith, Dr. Adams, Dr. George L. Prentiss, and Dr. John Cotton Smith. During his lifetime, Reverend Skinner earned honorary doctoral degrees from Williams College (1826) and a LL.D. from Maryville College in 1855. In addition to these accolades, Skinner was the author of Aids to Preaching and Hearing (1839), Religion of the Bible (1839), Hints to Christians (1841), Religious Liberty: A Discourse (1841), and Discussions in Theology (1868).