Contents and Arrangement

Correspondence, 1889-1891

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


This collection consists of four volumes of sermons, lecture notes, diary entries, and clippings, as well as correspondence, broadsides, a pamphlet, and a photograph belonging to William J. Harsha (1853-1938), a Presbyterian minister from Illinois who worked in Nebraska, New York, and Colorado, and who was an advocate for Indigenous civil rights.

Three of the four volumes contain sermons and lecture notes, interspersed with clippings. Two of these are from Harsha's time at Princeton University in 1873 and include his notes on various religious lectures; the third is from the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. A fourth volume is a combination of a diary and scrapbook, documenting his time in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1889. Harsha records sermons he preached, interactions with congregants, and major events, and pastes in numerous newspaper clippings about his ministry. A manuscript chart included in the book notes, "Financial Statement 1st Pres Church Omaha from Apl. 1, 1877 to Apl. 1, 1889," and details the number of home and foreign missions, church maintenance and ministry expenses, as well as a category for "Freedmen," possibly listing aid given to Black residents of Omaha. The chart also records the congregational population, which Harsha grew from 138 people in 1877 to 600 in 1889.

Of particular interest is an eight-page essay titled, "Helen Hunt Jackson, Century of Dishonor," which loosely recounts Harsha's dealings with Standing Bear, a chief of the Ponca Nation. Standing Bear had successfully argued before the U.S. District Court of Omaha that Native Americans were people under the law and had the right to habeas corpus. Standing Bear's activism was the subject of Harsha's book "Ploughed Under: The Story of an Indian Chief."

The correspondence present in the collection primarily concerns the publication of Harsha's sermons, articles, and books. The two broadsides are both from Omaha, one advertising a lecture by Harsha and the second the publication of a new book by him, "The Story of Iowa." There is also one photograph that shows the First Presbyterian Church of Tecumseh, Nebraska, and a pamphlet including Harsha's lecture "Why Preach the Gospel?"

Collection History

Archival Appraisal Information:

No materials were removed from the collection during 2022 processing.


Processing of this collection was sponsored by the Delafield fund.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single copies may be made for research purposes. No further duplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to Special Collections Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Correspondence; William J. Harsha Papers, C1723, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box B-002021