Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
William Ellery Channing Collection, 1823-1842

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, November 2011

Summary Information
Title: William Ellery Channing collection
Creator: Channing, William Ellery, 1780-1842
Inclusive dates: 1823-1842
Extent: 8 items
Abstract:
The William Ellery Channing collection contains eight personal letters written to Channing, a Unitarian preacher, by Andrews Norton and George Armstrong, who discussed a range of religious topics related to Unitarian theology and transatlantic cooperation between Unitarian societies.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1998. M-3449.3; M-3449.4.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

William Ellery Channing Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically.


Biography

William Ellery Channing was born on April 7, 1780, in Newport, Rhode Island, and, following his father's death, was raised primarily by his grandfather, William Ellery, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Channing graduated from Harvard in 1798 and, after spending time in Richmond, Virginia, became a vocal opponent of slavery. Upon his return north, Channing settled in Boston, where he turned the Federal Street Church into a leading institution in the Unitarian movement and helped establish both the American Unitarian Association and the Harvard Divinity School. Channing married Ruth Gibbs in 1814, and they had four children. He died on October 2, 1842.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The William Ellery Channing collection contains eight personal letters written to Channing, a Unitarian preacher, by Andrews Norton in Cambridge, England, and George Armstrong in Crossdoney, Ireland, who discussed a range of religious topics related to Unitarian theology and transatlantic cooperation between Unitarian societies. In his two letters, Norton focused on the relationship between Unitarians in the United States and those in Great Britain and, to a lesser extent, throughout Europe. He encouraged cooperation with like-minded groups and wished to compile biographical information about local believers. George Armstrong, who later moved to Bristol, England, composed five letters, in which he shared his thoughts on Channing's writings and those of other Unitarians, and on many theological matters; he also remarked briefly about British politics. Less frequently, he expressed his opinions on Americans and on slavery, which he fervently opposed. In one 17-page letter, Armstrong responded directly to a discourse recently published by Channing, challenging some of his views and presenting detailed insight into Armstrong's religious philosophy (May 29, 1834).

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Unitarian churches--Massachusetts--Boston.
    • Unitarian churches--United States--Clergy.
    • Unitarianism--United States--History--19th century.
    • Unitarians--Great Britain--History--19th century.
    Contributors:
    • Armstrong, George.
    • Norton, Andrews, 1786-1853.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   29, Small Collections  
    William Ellery Channing collection [series]
    Folder   37  
     April 26, 1823-May 29, 1834
    Folder   38  
     October 15, 1836-September 22, 1842
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    William Ellery Channing contributed to the following Clements Library collections:

    The Clements Library holds the William Ellery account and letter book, which once belonged to William Ellery Channing's grandfather.

    The Clements Library holds many published works by William Ellery Channing, available by searching the library's online catalog, Mirlyn.

    Bibliography

    Howe, Daniel Walker. "Channing, William Ellery." American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press, 2000.