Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
George Coles Collection, 1821-1851

Finding aid created by
Clements Staff, September 1997, and Meg Hixon, January 2012

Summary Information
Title: George Coles collection
Creator: Coles, George, 1792-1858
Inclusive dates: 1821-1851
Extent: 23 items
The George Coles collection contains 23 items written to the Methodist minister by acquaintances throughout the state of New York. Many of his correspondents discussed religious life in New York between 1821 and 1851.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1996. M-3304.6.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


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:

George Coles Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Reverend George Coles was born in England in 1792 and moved to the United States around 1818. An ordained Methodist preacher, he traveled around New York and Connecticut for several years, spending most of his time in New York; he lived in Poughkeepsie, Hudson, Peekskill, Cortlandt, and other towns. He served as an editor for the Christian Advocate and Journal and wrote several books, including My First Seven Years in America (1852) and Heroines of Methodism, or, Pen and Ink Sketches of the Mothers and Daughters of the Church (1857). He married Belinda Wilson of South Salem, New York, on October 16, 1820, and they had at least 5 children: Electra, Hester, Phebe, George W., and James. He died in 1858.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The George Coles collection contains 23 items written to the Methodist minister by acquaintances throughout the state of New York in the early 1800s. Most of his correspondents offered updates on their daily lives and acquaintances and requested news of his family, and some wished him luck in his clerical career. Others commented on their financial affairs. One correspondent, I. Holdich, wrote about a copyright dispute (February 15, 1840), and another, John Wilson, described the trial of a lawsuit in which he was involved (February 4, 1851Several letters concern the state of the Christian religion and Methodist communities throughout the region, including a pair of 1833 letters about a visiting English minister, George Marsden. Others pertain more directly to religious topics, such as prayer, or contain opinions about the church. For example, Alexander Farrill of Rochester, New York, complained about local Methodist preachers, whom he believed did "not even aim to be Methodist Men" (October 27, 1842), and H. Humphreys shared his thoughts on the area around Hudson, New York, which he believed to be too full of atheists and Quakers to allow for the flourishing of Methodism (January 24, 1849). Additionally, the collection holds one letter written to the editors of the Christian Advocate & Journal, in which Joseph Emes offered a memorial of Eliza Pelton of Middlefield, Massachusetts (April 21, 1838).

Subject Terms

    • Methodist Church--Clergy.
    • Methodist Church (U.S.)
    • Methodists--United States.
    • New York (State)--Religious life and customs.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   27, Small Collections  
    George Coles collection [series]
    Folders   19-21  
     December 18, 1821-February 4, 1851
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    Coles, George. My First Seven Years in America. New York: Carlton & Lanahan, 1852.