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COLLECTION Identifier: UAI 20.720

Records of grants for work among the Indians


These records document Harvard’s administrative and financial sponsorship of missionary work among several Native American tribes between 1720 and 1812. The collection includes the missionary journals of Samuel Kirkland (1741-1808), who lived among the Oneida tribe in New York for more than forty years, and John Sergeant (1747-1824), who lived among the Stockbridge tribe in Massachusetts and New York for almost fifty years. In addition to their documentation of Sergeant's and Kirkland's ministerial work and daily lives in the Indian settlements, these journals also provide information about the tribes' internal struggles; their negotiations, settlements and relationships - largely concerning land holdings - with the colonists and later the American government; the establishment of schools for Indian children; and other important tribal matters.


  • 1720-1812


Researcher Access

The Records of grants for work among the Indians are open for research.

Copying Restriction

Copying of fragile materials may be limited.


1.63 cubic feet (2 document boxes, 1 flat box, 2 microfilm boxes)
The Records of Grants for Work among the Indians document the activities of missionaries funded by and through Harvard. They include Harvard Corporation votes, correspondence, petitions, bonds, endorsements and reports related to missionary work, as well as the missionary journals of Samuel Kirkland, who lived among the Oneida tribe, and John Sergeant, Jr., who lived among the Stockbridge tribe. These journals were sent to Harvard by Sergeant and Kirkland as a condition of financial sponsorship, and many of the letters that accompanied the journals are also included in this collection.

The records are divided into three series: a series of Harvard Corporation records related to all sponsored missionaries, a series of the missionary journals of Samuel Kirkland, and a series of the missionary journals of John Sergeant. The series of Corporation records, created between 1720 and 1812, includes correspondence, legal bonds, votes of the Commission for Indian Affairs and the Harvard Corporation, petitions and other documents related to the activities and financial support of the individual missionaries financed by and through Harvard. The journals of Samuel Kirkland, created between 1789 and 1807 while he lived among the Oneida tribe, include information about a wide range of concerns, including famine, a smallpox epidemic, and Kirkland's involvement in the founding of the Hamilton Oneida Academy. The journals of John Sergeant, created between 1790 and 1809 while he lived among the Stockbridge tribe in New York, contain information about the tribe's internal and external concerns, including their involvement in treaties and agreements with the United States government, and also detail Sergeant's advocacy for the tribe with New York Governors John Jay and George Clinton.

Historical Note

In the eighteenth century, Harvard received financial contributions from the Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the Parts Adjacent in America, an English organization chartered for the purpose of converting the New England Indians to Christianity. The Company sponsored missionaries in New England from 1649 until the Revolutionary War. It did so by sending revenues from its investments to its Commissioners for Indian Affairs in New England, many of them Boston merchants, who in turn paid the missionaries or otherwise dispersed the funds as directed. Among the funds directed to Harvard College by the Company were bequests from two British men, Robert Boyle and Daniel Williams. These funds were administered by the Harvard Corporation and used to support the missionary work of several individuals, including Oliver Peabody (1698-1752) and Stephen Badger (1726-1803) at Natick, Massachusetts; Stephen West (1735-1819) and John Sergeant (1710-1749) at Stockbridge, Massachusetts; Sergeant’s son, John Sergeant, Jr. (1747-1824), at Stockbridge, Massachusetts and later New Stockbridge, New York; Samuel Kirkland (1741-1808) at Oneida, New York; Experience Mayhew (1673-1758) and Frederick Baylies (1774-1836) among the Chappaquiddick Indians in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; Gideon Hawley (1727-1807) at Mashpee, Massachusetts; and Joseph Badger (1757-1846) among the Wyandot Indians at Sandusky, Ohio. Although financial donations ceased at the time of the American Revolution, the funds’ unexpended surpluses were used into the nineteenth century.

Many missionaries also received financial support from another organization, the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. This Society, founded in 1709, contributed to the missionary work of John Sergeant, Jr. and Samuel Kirkland and, like Harvard, received copies of their missionary journals in return. Its funds were locally administered by the London Board of Correspondents in Boston.


The records are organized in three series:
  1. Harvard Corporation records regarding work among the Indians, 1720-1812
  2. Missionary Journals of Samuel Kirkland, 1789-1807
  3. Missionary Journals of John Sergeant, 1790-1809
Records within each series are arranged chronologically.

Online access

All of the records have been digitized and are available online. Links accompany detailed descriptions.

Related Materials

In the Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College
In the Massachusetts Historical Society
  1. Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians and Others in North America Records, 1752-1948 Includes journal of John Sergeant, 1791 and Journals of Samuel Kirkland, 1787-1791 (Ms. N-176)
  2. Journals of Samuel Kirkland, 1769-1772 (Ms. S-272)
In the Stockbridge Library Museum and Archives
  1. Sergeant Collection
  2. Stockbridge Indian Collection
In the New York Historical Society Library
  1. Diary of John Sergeant, 1809-1818
In the Hamilton College Archives
  1. Papers of Samuel Kirkland
  2. Account Book of Samuel Kirkland, 1797-1808 (HAM COLL HE K61a)
  3. Two Books of Common Prayer in the Mohawk language (HAM COLL HF K68b and PM 1884.C6 1787)

Inventory update

9This document last updated 2019 January 16.

Processing Information

Each series of this collection was previously cataloged individually in HOLLIS, Harvard's online library catalog. The series were also included in the "chronological miscellany" division of the finding aid for the Records of the Harvard Corporation (UAI 20.x). The collection was re-processed in 2010, combining the three series into one collection. Re-processing involved a collection survey, re-housing in appropriate archival folders and boxes, and the creation of this finding aid.

This finding aid was created by Laura Morris in April 2010.

Preservation and description of the Records of Grants for Work among the Indians was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
Link to catalog
Harvard University. Corporation. Records of Grants for Work among the Indians, 1720-1812: an inventory

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

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