Guide to the Marcus and Narcissa Whitman Papers
1823-1961

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Whitman, Marcus and Narcissa
Title: Marcus and Narcissa Whitman Papers
Dates: 1823-1961 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 1 linear foot of shelf space. (2 containers)
Collection Number: Cage 142
Summary: Correspondence, journals, church records, clippings, photographs and other papers, and a small number of artifacts related to the Whitmans.
Repository: Washington State University Libraries
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC)

Terrell Library
Pullman, WA 99164-5610 USA
(509) 335-6691
http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/masc/
mascref@wsu.edu

Languages: Collection materials are in English 
Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical Note

Marcus Whitman was born on September 4, 1802 in Rushville, New York. His father's early death necessitated his living with relatives from 1810 to 1820. During this time he was educated and received religious instruction. He received his medical degree in 1824 and practiced medicine for several years in Canada, was ordained for the ministry in 1834, and married in early 1836. Narcissa Prentiss Whitman was born March 14, 1808 in Prattsburgh, New York. She attended Franklin Academy and Collegiate Institute and later a female seminary in Troy, New York that specialized in the training of teachers. Following the completion of her studies she taught in several places. The Whitmans arrived in the Oregon Territory in 1836 and settled near Fort Walla Walla, where Whitman cultivated land and practiced medicine and Mrs. Whitman started an Indian school. In 1842, he travelled to the east to argue against the closing of the Oregon Missions. On his return, he led the first major emigrant wagon train to Oregon, the forerunner of the American settlement. On November 29, 1847, Whitman, his wife, and twelve others were killed by Indians.

Content Description

The Marcus and Narcissa Whitman Papers range in date from 1823 to 1961 (the bulk of them being from 1835 to 1846--approximately the time of their missionary work in the Oregon Territory). The collection includes materials by and about the Whitmans. Most of the papers are transcribed or reproduced from the originals, although a few very early originals are included in the collection. The collection consists of correspondence, photographs, church records and deeds, newspaper clippings and other papers. Those papers of Jonathan Pratt relating to Marcus Whitman have been included here; additional Pratt papers may be found in Cage 4004.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

This collection is open for research use.

Preferred Citation :  

[Item Description]. Cage 142, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman Papers . Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

The collection is arranged in a single series, presumed to be Clifford Drury's original order.

Acquisition Information :  

The Marcus and Narcissa Whitman papers were secured by Dr. Clifford M. Drury for his biographies of Pacific Northwest missionaries. He placed them in the Washington State University Libraries between 1940 and 1961 (MS 1983-42).

Processing Note :  

This inventory, prepared by Paul Green in December 1983, replaces a 1972 register now lost.

Related Materials :  

The Jonathan Pratt Papers (Cage 4004), received together with the Whitman Papers, were processed as a separate collection.


Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Box/Folder
1 / 1 Marcus Whitman letter to Jonathan Pratt, 1827
1 item.
1 / 1 Provenance statement by Clifford M. Drury, 1936
1 item.
1 / 2 Narcissa Whitman letter to Maria Pambrun, 1842
1 item.
1 / 3 Diary of Jonathan Pratt of Rushville, 1824-1828
2 items.
1 / 4 Letter of Mary J. Peabody to Jonathan Pratt, 1827
1 item.
1 / 5 Letter of Mary J. (Peabody) Whitman to Jonathan Pratt, 1830
3 items.
1 / 6 Attestation of Character and Training for Jonathan Pratt, 1823
1 item.
1 / 7 Ira Bryant Letter Recommending Jonathan Pratt, 1826
2 items.
1 / 8 Rules and Other Directions for the Band Society of Rushville, 1825
1 item.
1 / 9 Butterworth Poem and Letters by and about Whitman, 1834-1909
23 items.
1 / 10 Whitman's Early Life, Plus Letters, 1834-1898
1 item.
1 / 11 Whitman's Mission Life, 1905
3 items.
1 / 12 Whitman's Early Life (Incidents), undated
1 item.
1 / 13 Church Deeds and Documents, 1832-1936
6 items.
1 / 14 Photos, undated
8 items.
1 / 15 Documentation and Correspondence, 1832-1936
41 items.
1 / 16 Clippings about Marcus Whitman collected by Ellen Bates
1 / 17 Clippings collected by James A. Miller
1 / 18 Newspaper Clipping File, 1842-1961
31 items.
1 / 19 Photo File, 1936
15 items.
1 / 20 Photocopied Whitman Letters, 1828-1846
22 items.
1 / 21 Murder Trial Documents, 1850
26 items.
1 / 22 Newspaper Clipping File, 1882-1913
8 items.
1 / 23 Whitman Mission Correspondence, 1839-1842
6 items.
1 / 24 Whitman Mission Correspondence, 1838-1846
20 items.
1 / 25 Whitman Journal, 1835
1 item.
1 / 26 Narcissa Whitman Journal (typed transcription), 1836
1 item.
1 / 27 Container List, 1963
1 item.
Box
2 Lock of Narcissa Whitman's hair (in display mount), circa 1830s
Box
2 Narcissa Whitman's stationery (single sheet), circa 1820s-1830s
Box
2 Bonnet worn by Mrs. Henry Whitman (1811-1880), Marcus Whitman's sister-in-law, circa 1800s

Subjects

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Personal Names :
  • Barday, Marie Pambrun
  • Pratt, Jonathan, 1801-1880  ( creator)
  • Pratt, Samuel Wheeler, 1838-1910  ( creator)
  • Whitman, Marcus, 1802-1847. --Archives  ( creator)
  • Whitman, Narcissa Prentiss, 1808-1847  ( creator)
  • Subject Terms :
  • Missions -- Oregon--History--Sources
    • Occupations :
    • Missionaries--United States--Correspondence

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