Ransom Dunn papers: 1796-1900
Summary Information
Title: Ransom Dunn papers
Creator: Dunn, Ransom, 1818-1900
Inclusive dates: 1796-1900
Extent: 10 linear feet
Free Will Baptist minister, professor and acting president of Hillsdale College. Correspondence and other materials concerning the Free Will Baptists, Hillsdale College and its predecessor, Michigan Central College at Spring Arbor, with mention of Dunn's anti-slavery and Republican Party activities; also Civil War letters from his sons, Francis Wayland Dunn and Newell Ransom Dunn.
Call number: 851288 Aa 2
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid created by Michigan Historical Collections staff

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was the gift of the Dunn-Slayton family (donor no. 3361) and came to the library in 1957.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.


Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Alternate Format:

Portions of the John Dunn, Ransom Dunn and Cyrena Dunn correspondence is available on microfilm.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Ransom Dunn papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Ransom Dunn was born in Bakersfield, Vermont, July 7, 1818. Around 1830, he joined the Free Will Baptist Church and soon thereafter decided to enter the ministry. He moved about frequently in this period. In 1837, he was in Ohio where he was ordained, then back east where he was minister at the Washington Street Free Baptist Church in Dover, New Hampshire, and later at the First Free Baptist Church of Great Falls, New Hampshire. He returned to Ohio for a period, then to New York where he did missionary work, then on to the First Free Baptist Church of Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1851, Dunn accepted appointment as professor of mental and moral philosophy in Michigan Central College, Spring Arbor, Jackson County. With the move of that school to Hillsdale, Dunn took on the additional role of fund raiser for the needed buildings on the new campus. In 1863 he became Burr Professorship of Christian Theology. From 1884 to 1886, Dunn also served as acting president of Hillsdale College. He died November 9, 1900.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Ransom Dunn collection includes both his own papers and those of other family members, including his father John Dunn and Ransom Dunn's wife Cyrena Emery Dunn. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence received by Ransom Dunn in the period of 1835 to 1900. These letters concern the Free Will Baptist Church and the growth and development of Hillsdale College and its predecessor, Michigan Central College at Spring Arbor. Some of the letters concern anti-slavery and Republican Party activities; others relate to personal and family affairs. Importantly, there are letters from his sons Francis Wayland Dunn and Newell Ransom Dunn, as students at Hillsdale and as soldiers serving in the Civil War. One of the letters in the collection is from Austin Blair (Feb. 23, 1853) discussing the legality of an injunction on Michigan Central College, Spring Arbor. Other portions of the collection include Dunn's writings on theological topics, sermons, diaries, and a few photographs.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Clergy -- Michigan -- Hillsdale.
  • Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1860.
  • Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1884.
  • Antislavery movements -- United States.
  • Spring Arbor (Mich.)
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Dwellings -- Michigan -- Hillsdale.
  • Hillsdale (Mich.) -- Dwellings.
  • Interiors -- Michigan -- Hillsdale.
  • Private libraries.
  • Photographs.
  • Stereographs.
  • Dunn, Ransom, 1818-1900.
  • Dunn family.
  • Free Will Baptists (1780?-1911)
  • Hillsdale College.
  • Michigan Central College (Spring Arbor, Mich.)
  • Republican Party (Mich.)
  • United States. Army. Illinois Infantry Regiment, 64th (1861-1865)
  • Blair, Austin, 1818-1894.
  • Dunn, Cyrena Emery, 1824-1896.
  • Dunn, Francis Wayland, 1843-1874.
  • Dunn, John.
  • Dunn, Newell Ransom, 1841-1863.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
John Dunn [series]
Box   1  
Correspondence 1796-1836 (2 folders)

(microfilm available for 1792-1832)

Ransom Dunn [series]
Correspondence 1835-1900
Box   1  
1835-1854 (56 folders)

(microfilm available for 1835-1846)

Box   2  
1855-1861 (41 folders)
Box   3  
1862-1868 (42 folders)
Box   4  
1869-1876 (38 folders)
Box   5  
1877-1884 (36 folders)
Box   6  
1885-August 1889 (29 folders)
Box   7  
September 1889-1895 (33 folders)
Box   8  
1896-November 1900 (25 folders)
Box   8  
Writings on Theology (7 folders)
Box   9  
Writings on Theology (27 folders)
Box   9  
Graduation oration
Box   9  
Moral and political papers (include temperance)
Box   9  
Certificates of ministry
Box   9  
Marriage licenses
Box   9  
Marriage certificates
Box   9  
Business miscellanea (insurance, deeds, bank records, etc.) (2 folders)

(includes subscription list of individuals donating to foundation of Hillsdale College, 1853-55)

Box   9  
Receipts (9 folders)
Box   10  
Miscellanea (include passport) (2 folders)
Box   10  
Diaries (2 folders)
Box   10  
Sermon notes and notebooks
Box   10  
Notebook of letters received on 80th birthday 1898
Cyrena Emery Dunn [series]
Box   10  
Correspondence 1838-1896 (26 folders)

(microfilm available for 1838-1845)

Lewis Slayton [series]
Box   10  
Hillsdale College and course work
Photographs [series]
Box   10  
Portraits and photographs of his home and study in Hillsdale, Michigan
Additional Descriptive Data
Related Material

Collections of papers of Ransom Dunn's sons, Francis Wayland Dunn and Newell Ransom Dunn have been separately cataloged. There is also a separate collection of papers for the Slayton family.