|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is organized in one series arranged in original order.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains copies of the correspondence sent by Erwin Hart Richards as treasurer of the district of Inhambane serving with the Board of Foreign Missions for the Methodist Episcopal Church based in New York City. Richards also provided an index organized alphabetically at the beginning of the volume. Topics of discussion include mailing mission papers and publications; acknowledging receipt of letters; and ways to raise money. The correspondence is quite detailed and includes some personal reflections on the people of Africa. Some correspondence is written by Mary McClelland Richards, the third wife of Richards.
Burke Library record group:
Missionary Research Library Archives: MRL1, Africa
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection may contain some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.
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, MRL1: Erwin H. Richards Papers, 1905-1907, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Erwin H. Richards Papers, 1850-1994, Oberlin College Archives.
Ira E. Gillet Papers, MSS 259, Archives and Manuscripts Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.
Three diaries written by Richards were noted missing in May 2004. The diaries were from May-Dec 1881; May–Dec 1894; and 1899-1900.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Formerly part of the independent Missionary Research Library (MRL), these records were accessioned by the Burke Library at the time of the MRL's closure in 1976.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Material was cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-07-18. The correspondence book was wrapped in acid-free tissue and tied with acid-free cotton tying tape. The finding aid was created by Brigette C. Kamsler in 2011 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2020.
2020-08-11 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Erwin Hart Richards was born to Samuel Newton and Mary Hart Richards on May 4, 1851 in Orwell, Ohio. He received his education at Oberlin College with an A.B. in 1877 and an A.M. in 1880. Richards then attended Andover Theological Seminary where he received a degree in Sacred Theology in 1880. He was awarded an honorary D. Div. in 1897 from the University of New Orleans. Richards spent most of his life as a missionary in South East Africa, serving for thirty-three years with the Foreign Missionary Board of the Congregational Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church. He worked with the Zulu and Tonga tribes in Natal and Inhambane (now Mozambique). Richards founded the East Central Africa Mission in 1890; committed the Tonga language to written text in 1883-1884; founded 64 churches and schools across South East Africa; and translated the Bible and hymns into various African dialects. Richards was married three times. His first wife was Mattie A. Bebout, whom he married in 1880. He married his second wife, Carrie A. Duncanson, in 1883. His married his third and final wife, Mary Jane McClelland, on October 25, 1903. Erwin Richards retired in 1908, settling in Oberlin, Ohio in 1911. He died in 1928.