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Collection 143 Papers of Charles Finney

Identifier: CN 143

Scope and Contents

Microfilm edition of originals in the Oberlin College Library. Includes incoming correspondence, sermon outlines from 1853-75, lecture outlines, and articles. Calendar and index are on reel 1. Also includes two letters relating to Finney, one dated January 6, 1845, written by Lydia to William Westervelt, describing a sermon of Finney's to which many responded. A second letter from Finney, dated January 15, 1873, was written to Brother Pierson discussing the location of Pierson's parents' residence, written for him because of Finney's poor eyesight. Two additional Reels of Microfilm have been added, for a total of eleven. They include correspondence and lecture and sermon outlines. A third letter was also added, dated 1929, from Jeremiah Porter to his sisters in which he describes attending a Finney service. For more information, please see guide (there is also a guide prepared by Oberlin College).

[NOTE: In the Scope & Content description, the notation "folder 5-2" means box 5, folder 2.]

Also included in the collection are three letters (folder 1-1). One, dated January 15, 1873, was written by an unidentified person for Finney, and is addressed to Brother Pierson. It concerns the location of the home of Mr. Pierson's parents and also mentions Finney's poor eyesight. The second, dated January 6, 1845, is a letter from "Lydia" to William Westervelt in which she describes Finney's preaching, the response to his altar call by almost the entire congregation, and the shame of one of her friends who did not respond. The third letter was written June 23, 1829, by Rev. Jeremiah Porter to his sisters. In it he gives a first-hand account of a revival meeting held by Rev. Charles Finney.


  • Created: 1817-1875

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection. However, permission to quote material from the microfilm must be obtained from:

The Secretary

Oberlin College

Oberlin, OH 44074

Biographical Information

Charles Grandison Finney was born in Warren, Connecticut, in 1792, the son of Sylvester and Rebecca (Rice) Finney. In 1794, Finney's parents moved to Oneida County, New York. Finney was converted on October 10, 1821, studied theology with a Princeton-trained pastor, and was licensed to preach and then ordained in the Presbyterian Church.

In 1824 Finney went as missionary to the settlers of upstate New York, where revival followed under his preaching. Revivals swept through urban centers such as New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. Forced by illness to curtail his travels, he became pastor of the churches in New York City, then one in Oberlin, Ohio. In 1835 he accepted appointment as professor of theology of the newly formed Oberlin Collegiate Institute (now Oberlin College). He then served as president of the College from 1851 until 1866. He became known as the "Father of Modern Revivalism." Finney died in August 1875.


1 Box

11 Reels of microfilm

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were received by the Billy Graham Center Archives in 1980, 1984, and 1988.

Accession 84-116

Revised, February 3, 1987

Frances L. Brocker

J. Nasgowitz

Accessions 88-59, 88-131

Revised, March 4, 1997

Janyce H. Nasgowitz

Collection 143 Papers of Charles Finney
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