Billy Graham Center

Ephemera of Thomas Dewitt Talmage - Collection 129

[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

Biography of Thomas Dewitt Talmage

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

List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection (Container List)

Brief Description.
Letter to Dr. McKenzie inviting him to the dedication of Talmage's new tabernacle in Brooklyn, New York; a letter from Talmage refuting the charge that he had visited an actor to increase his speaking abilities; and news articles by Talmage clipped from the LADIES HOME JOURNAL.

Collection 129 [February 21, 2001]
Talmage, Thomas Dewitt; 1832-1902
Ephemera; 197?, 1891-1894
1 Box


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


David and Catherine Talmage's twelfth child, Thomas Dewitt, was born January 7, 1832, in Gatesville, New Jersey. Talmage was raised in a Christian home, accustomed to daily prayers and Bible readings led by his parents. He entered New York University to study law at age eighteen, the same year he was converted. After three years at NYU he entered New Brunswick Theological Seminary, completing the requirements for his B.D. in 1856. In 1884 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Tennessee.

Talmage's first pastorate was at the Reformed Church in Belleville, New Jersey. While there he married Mary Avery of Brooklyn with whom he had two children, Thomas and Jessie. Pastorates followed at the Second Reformed Church of Syracuse, New York (1859), and the Second Reformed Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1862). Shortly after arriving in Philadelphia, his wife drowned in a boating accident. On May 7, 1863, Talmage married Susan C. Wittenmore. The couple had five children: May, Edith, Frank, Maud, and Daisy.

While in Philadelphia Talmage worked as a chaplain in the Union army. He also began a lecture series in addition to his preaching ministry. The income from the lectures allowed him to travel extensively in the U.S. and abroad.

In 1869 he moved to Brooklyn, New York, to pastor the Central Presbyterian Church. An attempt to slander Talmage's work backfired as journalists attending his services to hear backlashes instead printed his sermons. Soon Talmage's sermons began to appear in publications all over the country. It is estimated that over thirty million people read his articles.

Talmage experienced great success in his Brooklyn ministry. The congregation outgrew its facilities so the preacher designed and built the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Talmage saw the building burn to the ground three times and rebuilt the structure twice.

Other activities engaged Talmage's interest such as the founding of the Free Lay College in Brooklyn. He also served as president of the institution. Several magazines enjoyed his editorship: Christian at Work (1873-1976), Advance (1877-1878), Sunday Magazine (1879-1889), and Christian Herald (1890-?).

Susan Talmage died in 1895 just prior to Talmage's moving to the first Presbyterian Church of Washington, D.C. as co-pastor. Mrs. Charles Collier, a widow, married Talmage in January 1898 accompanying him on several tours to Europe, Mexico, and the western part of the United States. While in Mexico during March 1902, Talmage became ill. His condition worsened all the way returning to Washington. He died on April 12 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.

Scope and Content

Materials in this collection include a letter written during the 1870s from Talmage to Dr. McKenzie inviting him to the dedication of Talmage's new tabernacle in Brooklyn and several clippings from the Ladies Home Journal. The clippings were part of a regular series of short articles by Talmage appearing each month in the magazine.



The materials in this collection were received by the Archives in April 1979 and February 1980.

Accession 79-35, 80-31
June 19, 1980
Mary Ann Buffington
S. Kouns

Box Folder Item
1 1 McKenzie; 187?
Newspaper Clippings
1 2 November-December, 1891
1 3 January-September, December, 1892
1 4 February, April, June, 1893
1 5 February, April, 1894

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Last Revised: 2/21/01
Expiration: indefinite