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Collection 128 Ephemera of Henry Ward Beecher

Identifier: CN 128

Scope and Contents

Autograph, newspaper clippings, photograph, and booklet. Clippings include coverage of Henry Ward 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.

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

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 Unpublished words by Beecher are found in the series dated 1893 (folder 1-3).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, 1874;  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 1875.

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.


  • Created: 1870-1893

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

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


0.40 Cubic Feet

1 Box

1 Oversize File

1 Photograph File

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were received by the Billy Graham Center Archives 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

Collection 128 Ephemera of Henry Ward Beecher
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