Billy Graham Center

Ephemera of Henry Ward Beecher - Collection 128

[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


An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

Lists of Oversize Materials and Photographs in This Collection (Location Records)
    Oversize Materials
List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Container List)

Brief Description: Autograph, newspaper clippings, photograph, and booklet. Clippings include coverage of Beecher's trial in civil court for adultery in 1875, articles about him with sermon excerpts, reminiscences by his widow and posthumously published articles by Beecher. The 176-page booklet was published as part of the lawsuit and contains transcripts of the proceedings.

Collection 128 [June 3, 2002]
Beecher, Henry Ward; 1813-1887
Ephemera; 1870-1893, n.d.
1 Box (DC; .4 cubic feet), Oversize Materials, Photograph

Restrictions: None.


Full name Henry Ward Beecher
Birth June 24, 1813, Litchfield, Connecticut
Death March 8, 1887, Brooklyn, New York, buried in Greenwood Cemetery
Parents Lyman and Roxana Beecher
Siblings Ten siblings including: Catherine (b. 1800), Edward (b. 1803), Harriet Beecher Stowe (b.1811), Isabella Beecher Hooker (b. 1822)
Marital Status Married Eunice Bullard, 1837
Children Ten children
Ordination New School Presbytery of Cincinnati, 1838
1826-1830 Mount Pleasant Classical Institute, Amherst, Massachusetts
1834 Received degree from Amherst College
1837 Received degree from Lane Theological Seminary
1839 Pastor of a church in Lawrencebury, Indiana
1839-1847 Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana
1847-1887 Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Brooklyn, New York
Other significant information
1861-1863 Editor of The Independent
1870-1881 Editor of Christian Union
1874-1875 Accused of adultery but was cleared by a trial jury and by a committee of the Plymouth Church
1844 Authored Seven Lectures to Young Men
1871 Authored Life of Jesus Christ
1885 Authored Evolution and Religion

[Note: In the Scope & Content section, the notation "folder 2-5" means "Box 2, Folder 5"]

Scope and Content

Materials in this collection include an undated signature by Beecher (folder 1-1), many newspaper clippings, a photograph of Beecher, and a booklet. The clippings are from two series that appeared in the Ladies Home Journal. Clippings from 1891 and 1892 (folder 1-2) were authored by Beecher's widow and include reminiscences of their life together. Unpublished words by Beecher are found in the series dated 1893 (folder 1-3). One small clipping (folder 1-5) dated 1927 (newspaper not listed) tells about a slave girl who was purchased out of slavery by Beecher. There are many full size pages of newspaper clippings in Oversize Folder 35 (OS 35) which cover the trial of Beecher for alleged adultery with Elizabeth R. Tilton and some which contain articles about him with sermon excerpts. The Chicago Inter Weekly Ocean contains an article about the Beecher's last days just before his death. Items in OS 35 are listed below,

New York Herald
March 2, 14, 16, 21, 23
September 21
February 21
March 7, 21, 25
April 4, 7
May 21, 25
June 7, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
The National Era, Washington, D.C., October 15, 1857
New York Daily Tribune, December 2, 1874
The Weekly Inter Ocean, Chicago, Illinois, March 8, 1887

Folder 1-4 consists of a 176-page booklet published as part of the trial. Beecher was pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church at the time the charges were brought against him, and both Mr. and Mrs. Tilton were members of his congregation. The suit for damages totaling one hundred thousand dollars was brought by Theodore Tilton and began in the City Court of Brooklyn on January 4, 1875. This booklet is a verbatim report of the first eight days of the trial, interspersed with commentary and containing a portrait of Francis D. Moulton, a principal witness. Moulton was a go-between for Beecher, dealing independently with various persons and the Tiltons during the four years which elapsed from the time the charge was first made until the issue was brought into the courts. Contents of the booklet include the opening argument for the plaintiff by S. D. Morris and the examination of Augustus Maverick and Francis D. Moulton, the latter testimony on pages 60 to 176. The address to the jury by Morris summarizes the events of the years between July 3, 1870, when Mrs. Tilton first confessed her relationship to Beecher and the circumstances which led to charges in a criminal court in 1875.


Materials in this collection were received by the Center in April 1979, February 1980, March 1981, April and May 1982, June 1984, March 1985, and April 1988. The booklet was purchased from a manuscript dealer.

Accession 79-38, 79-99, 80-31, 81-23

June 19, 1980
Mary Ann Buffington
S. Kouns

January 25, 1983, revised
Frances L. Brocker
J. Nasgowitz

Accession 82-57, 82-62, 82-66, 84-89, 85-29, 88-35
June 3, 2002, updated
Wayne D. Weber

Accession: 82-57, 82-62, 82-66
Type of material: Oversize Materials
The following items are in the OVERSIZE FILE. Request by collection number and folder location (in parentheses).

Newspaper clippings: 1857, 1874-1875, 1887 (OS 35). Most cover the Beecher-Tilton and some report on Beecher's Sunday service messages, including sermon excerpts, at the Plymouth Church.


Accession: 79-99
Type of material: Photographs
The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by folder title (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.

BEECHER, HENRY WARD. Beecher sitting in a chair; 1870. 1 b&w.


Box Folder Item
1 1 Autograph; n.d.
Newspaper Clippings
OS 35 1857, 1874-1875, 1887
1 2 November, 1891 - August, 1892
1 3 January-October, 1893
1 5 1927
1 4 Booklet: Theodore Tilton against Henry Ward Beecher, action for Crim. Con. tried in the City Court of Brooklyn, 1875.

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Last Revised: 6/5/02
Expiration: indefinite