Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
 

David Washington Cincinnatus Olyphant papers, 1827 -- 1851

Summary Information

Abstract

This collection contains typewritten copies of letters originally written by David Washington Cincinnatus Olyphant between 1827 and 1851. Olyphant was an American trader with offices in New York and Guangzhou, and a prominent supporter of the American missionary enterprise in China.

At a Glance

Bib ID 8527541 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Olyphant, David W. C., 1789-1851
Title David Washington Cincinnatus Olyphant papers, 1827 -- 1851
Physical Description 0.25 linear feet (0.25 linear feet; 1 box)
Language(s) English .
Access

This collection is open for research.

Onsite storage.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in one chronological series.

Description

Scope and Contents

This collection contains typewritten copies of letters originally written by David Washington Cincinnatus Olyphant between 1827 and 1851. The recipient of the letters is not recorded. Topics of the letters include missionaries and their work, bringing missionaries to China, opium, and the addition of California to the United States.

  • David Washington Cincinnatus Olyphant papers, 1827 -- 1851

    This series contains typewritten copies of letters originally written by David Washington Cincinnatus Olyphant between 1827 and 1851. The recipient of the letters is not recorded. Topics of the letters include missionaries and their work, bringing missionaries to China, opium, and the addition of California to the United States.

Burke Library record group:

Missionary Research Library Archives: MRL6, China

Using the Collection

Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Onsite storage.

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, MRL6: David Washington Cincinnatus Olyphant Papers, 1827-1851, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Related Materials

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.

MRL 6: David Williard Lyon papers, 1904-1950, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Custodial History

The letters were copied from the originals by hand by Robert Morrison Olyphant, and then typewritten. In 1914 these copies were lent to Henry Blair Graybill, 1880 - 1951, a missionary educator associated with the Canton Christian College, who copied them yet again. Finally a Chinese typist under the supervision of David Willard Lyon, 1870 - 1949, copied them in 1916. The location of the original handwritten letters is unknown.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Processing Information

Metal clips and staples were removed from materials and folded items were flattened. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes The finding aid was created by Gregory Adam Scott in 2010, reviewed and updated by Brigitte Kamsler in 2014 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2020.

Revision Description

June 3, 2014 XML Instance Created by Sarah Davis.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

2020-06-25 EAD spot checked and corrected 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.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Guangzhou (China) -- Commerce Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Missions -- China Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Olyphant, David W. C., 1789-1851 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

David Washington Cincinnatus Olyphant was born in Newport, Rhode Island on March 7, 1789. He was the son of Dr. David Olyphant, a Scottish supporter of Charles Edward Stewart who had come to America in the 1740s, and Ann (née Vernon) Olyphant, granddaughter of Richard Ward, governor of Rhode Island. D.W.C. Olyphant was raised Presbyterian, although some sources mention connections to the Religious Society of Friends. After his father died in 1805, Olyphant went to New York City and found employment with King and Talbot, a trading firm engaged in business in China. In 1820 he went to China himself, where he met the pioneering Scottish missionary Robert Morrison 馬禮遜, 1782- 1834, in Guangzhou 廣州 (Canton) This was the beginning of a long-standing and close relationship between Olyphant and the Protestant missionary enterprise in China.

Olyphant returned to the U.S. in 1823 and had a son, Robert Morrison Olyphant, in 1824 with his wife Ann Archer (née McKenzie) Olyphant. He returned to live in China from 1826 to 1827, during which time he wrote a letter (a copy of which is included in this collection) that is credited with bringing the first American missionaries to China.

In 1828 Olyphant organized the trading firm Olyphant and Company from the remains of his former employer's business which had gone bankrupt. He was well-known for his opposition to the opium trade, and his was one of the only large trading firms not to engage in opium smuggling in China. He again spent time in China from 1834 to 1837, and in 1838 was elected to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), the organization that had dispatched the first American missionaries to China in 1829. In addition to his financial support, his trading ships also offered free passage to missionaries traveling to and from China. In 1850 he traveled once again to China, but ill health forced him to set out on a return journey to the U.S. the next year. Olyphant died while en route overland across Egypt on June 10, 1851.