|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in one series in chronological order.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains a bound diary of day-to-day accounts of Chapin's expedition to Labrador and Greenland; correspondence of the courtship between Chapin and Isabel "Katie-Belle" Hayes, numbered in chronological order and dating from August 12, 1862 to September 22, 1863 (four days before their wedding); a "Voyage to India" journal kept by the Chapins; field notes, containing handwritten drafts and abstracts of longer works by Chapin and correspondence from missionary colleagues; and correspondence sent and received by both missionaries during their time in the field. Material transcribed and annotated by Mabel Hay Barrows Mussey (daughter of Isabel and Samuel Barrows) is indicated by the initials "MM."
Burke Library record group:
Missionary Research Library Archives: MRL3, South Asia
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
The 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, MRL3: William Wilberforce Chapin papers, -1865, 186box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
MRL 12: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions records, 1878-1958, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
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 Melissa Lemons in 2007, updated by Kristen Leigh Southworth and Brigette C. Kamsler in 2013 with support from the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2021.
2021-04-13 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
William Wilberforce Chapin was born in Somers, Connecticut on December 2, 1836. His father Oliver, an instructor at Williams College, died in 1852 when William was sixteen years old. Chapin joined the Congregational Church two years later. He graduated from Williams College in 1860, showing a particular aptitude for the natural sciences. That same year he was sent on an expedition to Labrador and Greenland by the Natural History Society of Williams College in order to collect animal, plant, shell, and other specimens. Upon his return, Chapin attended Andover Seminary. During his time at Andover he met Katherine Isabel "Katie Belle" Hayes, the daughter of a Scottish physician who was on a visit to meet Chapin's sister Charlotte, head of Mt. Holyoke Seminary. Isabel had planned to teach botany at Mt. Holyoke, but instead was forced to return home to New Hampshire to care for her ailing mother. William graduated from Andover in 1863 and was ordained on September 24th of that same year. William and Isabel were married two days later on September 26, 1863. In January of 1864, the couple traveled to India with the intention of completing a ten-year missionary assignment together as part of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). They were stationed in Pimplus (Pimpulwandi), a rural area about fifty miles from Ahmednagar, and set up their home in a mud hut. Three months after their arrival, William became ill. Eventually he contracted diphtheria. By the time he was able to seek medical care it was too late, and he died on March 22, 1865 at the age of 28, leaving his wife Isabel a widow at the age of 19.