Thomas Smith papers  1730-1762
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains 149 monthly letters composed by Christian missionaries working for the American Sunday-School Union in Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee, during and just after the Civil War, as well as 8 printed items and a map. Most of the letters are addressed to the Church of the Covenant Sabbath School in New York City.

The Correspondence series , which comprises the bulk of the collection, consists primarily of letters by William Sedwick, Otis Patten, Robert Downey Blair, and other missionaries, who reported on their work establishing religious schools in Kentucky and other southern states. Many letters contain monthly reports, and the missionaries frequently shared anecdotes about local parishioners, often children.

William Sedwick commented on the effects of the Civil War on his work, including shelling and the encroachment of fighting in the missionary fields (January 20, 1863) and local residents' fears that the Confederate Army would take over Kentucky (March 24, 1863). He also reflected on the war's negative impact on his evangelistic efforts, and on local attitudes about slavery.

Others mentioned their work with freed slaves, and Isaac Emory described the jubilation felt by two elderly former slaves who could now read the Bible publicly (August 25, 1867). The poverty and social conditions of the American South, along with the plight of African Americans, were frequent topics of conversation, along with missionary efforts to win converts and oversee the development of religious education. Several groups of these letters were once bound.

The Printed items series (8 items) includes reports of the Children's Aid Society and the Try Society, financial records related to the American Sunday-School Union, and an annual report made by William Sedwick during his service with the American Sunday-School Union (July 20, 1862).

The Map series has a manuscript map of three counties in northwestern Kentucky.

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