Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Henry Ward Beecher collection, 1819 – 1980

Call Number: ARC.212

Extent: 28.0 cubic feet, in 75 boxes: 32 manuscript boxes, 38 flat boxes, and 5 small boxes.

The Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Henry Ward Beecher collection traces the career of the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, the well known 19th century preacher, and the history of Plymouth Congregational Church, of which Beecher was the first pastor. Plymouth Church was a major institution in 19th century Brooklyn, first gaining recognition on national and international levels as Beecher’s pulpit. Beecher was well known for his oratorical ability and for his vocal opposition to slavery and support of the Northern cause during the Civil War. He also spoke out on subjects ranging from women’s suffrage and evolution to organized labor and temperance. Beecher was a popular figure despite controversy that surrounded his activities, including a charge of adultery that resulted in a widely reported trial in 1875.

The collection relates principally to Beecher’s pastorate at Plymouth Church from 1847 until his death in 1887. Other materials, ranging through 1980, concern the church’s other pastors and the history of Plymouth Church itself, which consolidated with the Church of the Pilgrims in 1934. The papers provide insight into the church congregation’s various activities, illustrate the history of Beecher’s influence on his congregation and on 19th century congregationalism, and shed light on both the public and private life of a major American personality of the 19th century.


  • Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887
  • Abbott, Lyman, 1835-1922
  • Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1897
  • Beecher, William Constantine, b. 1849
  • Durkee, J. Stanley, 1866-1951
  • Fifield, Lawrence Wendell, b. 1891
  • Hibben, Paxton, 1880-1928
  • Hillis, Newell Dwight, 1858-1929
  • Hunt, Rose Ward
  • Tilton, Elizabeth M. Richards, b. 1834
  • Tilton, Theodore, 1835-1907
  • Bethel of Plymouth Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Church of the Pilgrims (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.). Sunday School
  • Church of the Pilgrims (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Henry Ward Beecher Literary and Debating Society (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Henry Ward Beecher Missionary Circle (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Plymouth Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.). Sunday School
  • Plymouth Church (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Plymouth Institute (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Ellinwood, T. J., 1830-1921
  • King, Horatio C., 1837-1918


  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) — Church history
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) — Religious life and customs
  • Brooklyn Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States — Religion


  • Plymouth chimes (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Abolitionists — New York (State)
  • Adultery — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Antislavery movements — United States
  • Authors, American
  • City clergy — New York (State) — New York
  • Clergy as authors
  • Congregational churches — New York (State) — Kings County — Clergy
  • Congregationalists — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Lectures and lecturing — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Pews and pew rights
  • Reformers — United States
  • Religious education of children — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Religious institutions — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Sunday schools — New York (State) — Kings County
  • Trials (Adultery) — New York (State) — Kings County

Types of material:

  • Cartes-de-visite (card photographs)
  • Church newsletters
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Cylinder phonographs (phonographs)
  • Photographs
  • Picture postcards
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sermons
  • Typescripts

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