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Collection 062 Ephemera of Cotton Mather

Identifier: CN 062

Scope and Contents

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.

[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."


  • Created: 1680-1724


Conditions Governing Access

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

or Massachusetts Historical Society

1154 Boylston Street

Boston, MA 02215

Biographical Information

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.


0.20 Cubic Feet

1 Box

19 Reels of microfilm

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

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

Accession 84-116

December 16, 1980

Gerald Lynch

M. Arnold

revised, January 7, 1986

Frances L. Brocker

J. Nasgowitz

Collection 062 Ephemera of Cotton Mather
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Eighteenth Century Handwriting
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US