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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 767

Delaware language collection


Dictionaries, grammars, vocabularies, and other materials on the Delaware, Arawak, and Cherokee languages, assembled by Moravian church missionaries in 18th-century America. Also includes letters about the collection.


  • Creation: 1755-1810 and undated

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in Delaware, Arawak, Cherokee, German, and English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


2 linear feet (21 volumes)

Grammars, dictionaries, and vocabularies of the Delaware and Arawak languages and hymns, sermons, a gospel harmony, and other religious works in Delaware gathered or produced by Moravian missionaries in Ohio. Much annotation in English and German. One small vocabulary in the Cherokee language. Primarily written by David Zeisberger (1721-1808), but other names associated with the collection are: Bernhard Adam Grube (1715-1808), Samuel Lieberkuhn (1710-1777), Abraham Luckenbach (1777-1854), Benjamin Mortimer, Stephan Pfeiffer, and others. Includes translations.

Biographical / Historical

The collection was primarily assembled by David Zeisberger (1721-1808), an 18th-century Moravian missionary and Delaware language interpreter. Zeisberger was born in Moravia in 1721 and immigrated to British North America in the late 1730s. He joined the Church of the Unity of the Brethren, commonly known as the Moravian Church. He eventually settled near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and became a missionary to various Native American groups in Pennsylvania and New York and later moved with the Delaware Indians to Ohio in 1772. Upon their arrival in Ohio, Zeisberger established the village of Schoenbrunn, located near modern-day New Philadelphia. He continued his work throughout the American Revolution and eventually moved on to Gnadenhütten. After the destruction of Gnadenhütten in 1782, Zeisberger moved to villages in northern Ohio and Michigan and continued his work until his death in 1808. [Source:]


Arranged in random order as determined and numbered in 1850 when received.


Manuscripts presented by the Rev. Mr. Bernhard Adam Grube to the Rev. Mr. Abraham Luckenbach (1777-1854) on his setting out upon his western missionary journey in 1800. Obtained (by Judge Lane?) from the Moravian brethren at Gnadenhütten in Ohio.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

No accession number. Gift of Judge Ebenezer Lane (A.B. 1811) of Sandusky, Ohio; received: 1850 January 21.

Curatorial file includes some papers useful for tracking history of collection. See also item (21) below.


For calendar see No. 22 of the Bibliographical Contributions of the Harvard University Library.
Many of these manuscripts have been published. See HOLLIS for additional information.

Processing Information

Cataloging copied from original description in Manuscript Catalogue.

Delaware language collection, 1755-1810: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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