Papers of Henry Ware, Sr.
Extent2.72 cubic feet (5 document boxes, 2 half legal document boxes, and 1 legal document box)
Ware's election as the Hollis Professor of Divinity is considered a foundational moment in the development of Unitarian thought in New England. The sermons and lectures that form the bulk of this collection were delivered to Harvard undergraduates and Harvard Divinity School students regularly for more than two decades and help trace Ware's influence as a Unitarian theologian and educator. Ware's lectures and sermons focused on careful study of the Bible and the training of a community-minded minister, and the collection provides a resource for studying the religious curriculum of Harvard in the early 19th century.
Henry Ware was born on April 1, 1764 in Sherborn, Massachusetts. He received an AB from Harvard in 1785, and delivered the valedictory oration at Commencement. After graduation, Ware taught at the Cambridge town school and studied for the ministry under Timothy Hilliard, pastor of the First Church in Cambridge. Ware received an AM from Harvard in 1788 and on October 24, 1787 was ordained as the minister of the First Church in Hingham, Mass. Ware served as minister until 1805, when he was elected as Harvard's fourth Hollis Professor of Divinity, following the death of Professor of David Tappan on August 27, 1803.
Efforts to appoint a successor to Tappan had been stalled by controversy between liberal and orthodox Calvinist members of the Harvard Corporation and Board of Overseers. Ware was a liberal Unitarian, and it was only after public and contentious debate among College governors that the Corporation elected him as the Hollis Professor of Divinity on February 5, 1805. In response, Overseer Jedediah Morse published The true reasons on which the election of a Hollis professor of divinity in Harvard College was opposed at the Board of Overseers, Feb. 14, 1805, and founded the conservative Andover Theological Seminary. Opposition to Ware's appointment also precipitated the resignation in 1807 of Eliphalet Pearson, a Corporation member and the Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages.
Ware preached his last sermon in Hingham on May 5, 1805 and was inaugurated at Harvard on May 14, 1805. In 1811, Ware began teaching a course for the resident divinity students at Harvard. Traditionally, Harvard graduates interested in joining the ministry studied theology with local ministers for three years before receiving a Master's degree from Harvard. Many of these students remained in Cambridge to make use of the University Library, and Ware's course was the first to regulate their studies. In July 1816, the Society for promoting Theological Education in Harvard University was formed to raise funds to establish the Divinity School, and the first class of the Divinity School graduated in December 1817.
As an educator, Ware delivered sermons every Sunday morning to the College on the "Evidences and truths of natural and revealed religion," and for the resident Divinity students, Ware provided a weekly seminar that included a lecture and class assignments. Ware served as the Acting President of Harvard in 1810 (following the death of President Samuel Webber) and in 1828 (following the resignation of President John Thornton Kirkland). Ware's principal focus was the education of future ministers, but he also published sermons and theological works periodically. In 1820, Ware defended Unitarian theology in a published response to Dr. Leonard Wood, of the Andover Theological Seminar, entitled, Letters to Trinitarians and Calvinists.
In 1840, Ware resigned from the College due to failing eyesight, and spent the next two years developing his lectures on natural and revealed religion into An Inquiry into the Foundation, Evidences, and Truths of Religion, which was published 1842. Ware died on July 12, 1845.
Ware married Mary Clarke (1762-1805) on March 31, 1789, and before Mary's death on July 13, 1805, the couple had nine children, of whom six survived to adulthood. In February 1807, Ware married Mary Otis Lincoln, who died eight days later. On September 18, 1807, Ware married Elizabeth Bowes (1776-1850), and together they had nine children. Six of Ware's sons graduated from Harvard: Henry Ware, Jr. (1794-1843; AB 1812), John Ware (1795-1864; AB 1813), William Ware (1797-1852; AB 1816), Charles Eliot Ware (1814-1887; AB 1834), George Frederick Ware (1820-1849; AB 1838), and Thornton Kirkland Ware (1826-1896; AB 1842). Henry Ware Jr. was a member of the Harvard Divinity School faculty from 1830 to 1842.
- Quarter bills, 1783
- Financial records, 1789-1808
- Sermons and ordination charges, 1793-1838, undated
- Lectures,1808-1838, undated
- Unidentified fragments of sermons and lectures, 1816-1830, undated
- Records relating to the First Church of Hingham pastorship, 1795-1805
- Records relating to Harvard College administration, -1825
- Teaching materials, 1817-1839
- Correspondence, 1821-1828
- Research materials, 1823-1837, undated
- Publishing records, 1842
- [Library shelflist], undated
- Jensen, Timothy Ward. The Wares: Three generations of American Unitarians. Thesis (Ph. D.),University of Oregon, Department of History, 2001.
- Palfrey, John Gorham. A discourse on the life and character of the Reverend Henry Ware, D. D., A. A. S., pronounced in the First Church in Cambridge, Sept. 28, 1845. Boston: Crosby and Nichols: printed for the American Unitarian Association, 1846.
- Wright, Conrad. "The Election of Henry Ware: Two Contemporary Accounts Edited with Commentary" in the Harvard Library Bulletin 17 (July 1969): 245-278
This finding aid was created by Diann Benti in May 2011.
Preservation and description of the papers of Henry Ware, Sr. was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
- Ware, Henry, 1764-1845. Papers of Henry Ware, Sr., 1783-1842: an inventory
- EAD ID
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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