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Media: 8 reels of 35mm microfilm
Format: A guide, included at the beginning of the first reel, lists items as they appear on the film, followed by an index of correspondents by name. A paper copy of the guide is distributed with the collection.
Coverage Date: 1812-1901

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Nineteenth-century Christian missionaries brought not just religion to their flocks in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, but also Western culture and its often conflicting views: assumptions (sometimes demeaning) about indigenous populations and their cultures, juxtaposed uneasily with Western ideals of equality, fraternity, and justice.

The papers of Congregational minister Augustus Charles Thompson (1812-1901) reflect his lifelong involvement in the foreign mission movement. The 10,000 volumes of his personal collection, now housed at Hartford Seminary, include his vast library of missionological texts and correspondence.

Born in Goshen, Connecticut, Thompson graduated from the Theological Institute of Connecticut (later renamed Hartford Seminary) and served as pastor of the Eliot Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts, for virtually his entire clerical career. He wrote and compiled a number of books, the most famous of them his Moravian Missions (New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1890), a thorough review of the German sect and its pioneering and widespread missionary efforts.

Students of religion and history will find treasures such as these in the collection:

  • The correspondence of Eleazar Lord, including letters from John Jay, Jonathan Edwards, and Caleb Strong
  • Thompson's correspondence with many important churchmen of his day, including Rufus Anderson, Edmund de Schweinitz, Gustave Warneck, and Jens Vahl
  • Holographic versions of 18th-century sermons by preachers Timothy Edwards, Asahel Hooker, Joseph Lyman, and Gideon Hawley
  • Materials related to Thompson's service on the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, including letters describing his visits to India in the 1850s and the London conferences of 1878 and 1888

The Thompson Papers will particularly appeal to researchers in:

  • New England history, with descriptions of life in Thompson's native Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as correspondence to and from various New Englanders
  • Religion, especially missionology and 19th-century conservative Protestantism
  • Colonialism in third-world countries

This primary source material--especially the correspondence--reflects both Western cultural attitudes and everyday details of time and place, e.g.,

  • A description of the devotional habits of black South African women converted by missionaries
  • Thompson's adolescent son's account of a Fourth of July celebration in Connecticut

  • Content Type: A guide, included at the beginning of the first reel, lists items as they appear on the film, followed by an index of correspondents by name. A paper copy of the guide is distributed with the collection.
  • MARC Records: Yes

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