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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 144

Austin, John Mather, 1805-1880. Journals, 1832-1877.

Journals of John Mather Austin (1805-1880) minister of the Universalist Society of Auburn and editor of the Christian Ambassador, a newspaper of the New York State Convention of Universalists.


  • 1832-1877.


There are no restrictions on access to this collection.


5 boxes

These journals give detailed information on Austin's daily life as a Universalist minister, and his reflections on the various events of the day. The journals in this collection are numbered 1-9, for a total number of nine journals in the collection. Journals 2-9 have been microfilmed onto two reels, and this microfilm is located in box 1 of the collection. In addition, the collection has been digitized and is accessible through the links below.

Biographical / Historical

John Mather Austin (1805-1880) was born in Redfield, New York. He traced his lineage from Richard Mather, who was the grandfather of Cotton Mather. He married Sarah Ann Somerdyke in 1828 and they had twelve children. He was a minister of the Universalist Society of Auburn from 1844 to 1851, and from 1851 to 1861 he was editor of the Christian Ambassador, a newspaper of the New York State Convention of Universalists. Austin was a close friend of Secretary of State William Henry Seward, and through his influence, President Lincoln offered Austin consulships to the West Indies and the Prince Edward Islands. He refused both of them due to his reluctance to abandon his religious work. However, Austin did accept Lincoln's commission of Paymaster in the Union Army, which carried a rank of Major, and he held this post until he was decommissioned in 1866. Austin labored against the death penalty and war; and for abolitionism, women's rights, prison reform, and the Underground Railroad. He wrote several books, of which his Golden Steps to Respectability, Usefulness and Happiness (1859) is the most well known. He died at his home in Auburn, New York.

Acquisition Information

These journals were discovered in the Tufts University Library in the 1950s by the librarian, Joseph S. Komidar. In April, 1968 they were given to the Universalist Historical Society Library by Tufts. They were then donated to the Andover-Harvard Theological Library. Journal 1 was loaned to the library by the descendants of John Mather Austin (the grandchildren of Matty Webster Davis) in 2012 and was digitized. The digital images are made available here, and the original journal will be donated to the library at a later date.
Austin, John Mather, 1805-1880. Journals, 1832-1877: A Finding Aid.
Andover-Harvard Theological Library

Repository Details

Part of the Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School Repository

Special Collections at Andover-Harvard Theological Library preserves and makes accessible primary source materials documenting the history of religion and theology, with particular historical emphasis on American liberal religious traditions. Though the historical strengths of the collections have been in the field of Christianity, other religious traditions are increasingly reflected, in step with Harvard Divinity School's evolving focus on global religious studies.

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