Billy Graham Center

Ephemera of Cotton Mather - Collection 62

[Note: The BGC Archives does not have the original documents of this collection. What it does have is a microfilm edition of the papers, which it purchased from a publisher, as did many other archives and libraries.]

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent.]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions


Scope and Content Description

List of Microfilm in This Collection (Location Records)
List of Paper Records in This Collection (Container List)

Brief Description.
Microfilm of diaries, sermons, notes, correspondence, and writings of Mather. Originals are in the American Antiquarian Society and in the Massachusetts Historical Society. Also included is the original and a photocopy of a hand-written sermon, 1701, on Ephesians 1:3, titled "Spiritual Blessings." For more information, please see guide.
Vol: 2 Folders, 19 Reels of Microfilm

Collection 62
[February 5, 2001]
Mather, Cotton; 1663-1728
Papers; 1680-1724

1 Box (DC, .2 cubic feet), 19 Reels of Microfilm


Permission to quote in full or in part must be secured in writing from whichever repository is in possession of the original document in question:

American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609


Massachusetts Historical Society
1154 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215


Cotton Mather, clergyman and author, was born February 23,1663, to Reverend Increase and Maria (Cotton) Mather. He was a third-generation American, his grandfather, Reverend Richard Mather, having come to Boston in 1635. A brilliant young man, he received his B.A. in 1678 (Harvard) and M.A. in 1681; an honorary doctorate was awarded by the University of Glasgow (Scotland) in 1710. Mather was first married in 1686; his three wives in succession were Abigail Phillips, Elizabeth Clark Hubbard, and Lydia George, and with them he had a total of fifteen children.

Mather was ordained to the ministry in 1684, and from 1685 to 1723 was a teacher at the Second Congregational Church in Boston and minister of that church from 1723 to 1728. Author of over 450 books, he was ahead of his time in some ways, campaigning against intemperance and mistreatment of slaves, and publishing a treatise on smallpox inoculation. He is today better remembered, at least in popular circles, for his defense of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 and subsequent treatises defending his defense.

Mather died in Boston, February 24, 1728.

Scope and Content

[NOTE: In the Scope and Content description, the notation "folder 1-1" means box 1, folder 1.]

This collection consists of two folders (1-1 and 1-2) containing the original and a photocopy of a hand-written sermon on Ephesians 1:3. titled "Spiritual Blessings," and nineteen reels of microfilm. The microfilm is of the original manuscripts in the Massachusetts Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society. The material reflects the wide interests of Mather, from quotations to secular biography to courtroom procedure. Two items relate directly to the Salem Witchcraft trials: "A Brand Pluck'd Out of the Burning" (the examination of one of the afflicted girls whose torments by devils at witches' presumed bidding brought about the trials), and the original transcript of the interrogation of accused wizard, Reverend George Burroughs. Burroughs, a former pastor of the Salem Village Church (pastored in 1692 by Reverend Samuel Parris), was arrested in Maine, brought back to Massachusetts for trial, convicted, and hanged as a wizard.

The plethora of sermon notes reflect the interests of third-generation Massachusetts divines. Favorite topics for lengthy expositions are on keeping the Sabbath holy, prayer, God vs. man (holiness vs. depravity), honoring of ones parents, avoidance of "sinful indulgence," the doctrine of election and the security of the elect, man's duty to God, the nature of evil, etc.

Notably lacking in the papers is correspondence, found only in reels 10 and 11. There is correspondence concerning members of the Mather family, Samuel Sewell, and many contemporary ministers both in New England and in England. Letters from English cleric Thomas Shepard and one by Isaac Watts are on reel 10. The diaries, although incomplete, offer an introspective view into Mather's life. In the essays and treatises, Mather frequently addresses himself in rebuttal or commentary to other authors such as Thomas Shepard. "Some American sentiments..." (reel 12) is a plea to London ministers on behalf of non-conformists in Massachusetts. Reel 10 includes, among other treatises, a latter-day defense by Mather of his prosecution of the witchcraft affair: "Another Brand Pluck'd out of the Burning, or More Wonders of the Invisible World."


The materials for this collection were received by the Center in 1980 and 1984.

Accession 84-116

December 16, 1980
Gerald Lynch
M. Arnold

revised, January 7, 1986
Frances L. Brocker
J. Nasgowitz

Accession: 84-116 Type of Material: Microfilm

The following items are located in the CENTER LIBRARY MICROFILM ROOM:.
All reels are copy positives, 35mm.

Reel 1 - "Manuscripts of Cotton Mather, Including Letters, Volumes, Sermons, Notes on Sermons, Quotations, etc." Compiled by William Sanford Piper; Diaries: 1681, 1683, 1685-6, 1688, 1692-3, 1696-1703, 1705-7, 1709, 1711

Reel 2 - Diaries: 1713, 1717-18, 1721, 1723-24; "Notebook of Authors and Texts Throughout the Bible" (1720)

Reel 3 - Notes of Sermons (1676-1680)

Reel 4 - Lectures, Notes of Sermons (1680-1682)

Reel 5 - Notes of Sermons (1682-1684)

Reel 6 - Notes of Sermons (1685)

Reel 7 - Notes of Sermons (1686-1689)

Reel 8 - Notes of Sermons (1691-1694; 1703-1704)

Reel 9 - Notes of Sermons (1689 and undated)

Reel 10 - Miscellaneous letters, sermons, and dissertations

Reel 11 - Letters (1690-1720; 1723-1724)

Reel 12 - Specimens of the handwriting of the N. E. Fathers, of the four Mathers, Bradstreet; Quotations; Quotations, proverbs, excerpts, and notes (1720-1722); "Curioso Americana" (1723); "La France sous la Verge de Dieu"; "A Brand Pluck'd out of the Burning"; "Some American Sentiments on the Great Controversy of the Times..."; "Spicilegia Eucharista"; "Utility of Synods on Ministerial Councils"; "Problema Theologicum..."; "Tri-Paradisus"; "Prophecies and Churches, 1671-1677"; "Seven Essays on the Mission of Jesus Christ"; "Discourse concerning Congregational Churches"

Reel 13 - "Serious Consideration Commended as the Way unto Sound Conversion"

Reel 14 - The Examination of George Burroughs for Witchcraft (1692); "The Life of Mr. Thomas Dudley, Several times Governor of the Massachusetts Colony in New England" (ca. 1690)

Reel 15 - "Biblia Americana, Illustrations of Scripture", Vol. 1-2

Reel 16 - "Biblia Americana, Illustrations of Scripture", Vols. 3-4

Reel 17 - "Biblia Americana, Illustrations of Scripture", Vol. 5

Reel 18 - "Biblia Americana, Illustrations of Scripture", Vol. 6

Reel 19 - "The Angel of Bethesda" (1724)

Box Folder Item
1 1 Sermon, 1701, from Ephesians 1:3, titled "Spiritual Blessings" (original, hand-written copy).
1 2 Sermon, 1701, from Ephesians 1:3, titled "Spiritual Blessings" (photocopy of hand-written copy).

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Last Revised: 2/5/01
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