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Collection 433 Papers of Benjamin Colman

Identifier: CN 433

Scope and Contents

One reel of microfilm containing letters to and from Benjamin Colman, describing his pastoral duties at Brattle Street Church in Boston, his work among Native Americans (with the Society for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the Parts Adjacent, the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts), his responsibilities as a corporate officer of Harvard College, and his participation in the religious and political life of Massachusetts.

Correspondents include Jonathan Belcher, Elisha Cooke, Jonathan Edwards, Cotton and Increase Mather, William Shirley, Samuel Shute, and Sir Robert Walpole. Subjects referred to include the Great Awakening, theological matters, church controversies in New England, George Whitefield, Isaac Watts, and schools in Boston.

The Massachusetts Historical Society retains the original documents in this collection.


  • Created: 1696-1747, 1806

Conditions Governing Access

Permission to quote any document from this collection in full must be obtained in writing from the Massachusetts Historical Society. Citations must credit the Society as the repository of the originals. All correspondence concerning permissions should be sent to:

The Director

Massachusetts Historical Society

1154 Boylston Street

Boston, MA 02215

Biographical Information

Benjamin was born in Boston to William and Elizabeth Colman. He received his masters degree from Harvard in 1692 and his Doctor of Divinity in 1695. After graduation, he lived in England for four years and was ordained by the London Presbytery in 1699. He then returned to Massachusetts and the same year became pastor of the Brattle Street Church in Boston, where he served for the rest of his life. William Cooper became his assistant in that church in 1715 and continued in that post until his (Cooper's) death in 1743. In 1700 Colman married Jane Clark and they had three children, a son and two daughters. Also in that year he was a leader of the liberal Presbyterians in a dispute with the Congregationalists over the proper procedure of worship. He served as fellow of Harvard from 1717-1728 and an overseer from 1728 until his death. In 1724, he was selected as the president of Harvard but he had to decline because of opposition in the General Court, the legislature of the colony. After his first wife's death in 1731, he married Sarah (Crisp) Clark in 1732 and after Sarah's death in 1744 he married Mary Frost in 1745. From his marriages he had at least one son and one daughter. In 1731 he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Glasgow. He was also active in the missionary work among the New England Indians by the Society for Propagating of Christian Knowledge and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. This included work at Fort Dummer and on the St. George's River. Colman died in 1747.


1 Reel of microfilm

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were purchased by the Billy Graham Center Archives in June, 1990 from University Microfilm International.

Accession 90-82

August 1, 1990

Robert Shuster

Collection 433 Papers of Benjamin Colman
Bob Shuster
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US