Guide to the Elkanah and Mary Richardson Walker Papers

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Walker, Elkanah and Mary Richardson
Title: Elkanah and Mary Richardson Walker Papers
Dates: 1830-1938 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 14 boxes. (13 linear feet of shelf space.)
Location of Collection: (MASC STAFF USE): Boxes 9-14: Holland 428, W4-7-1 and 2
Collection Number: Cage 57
Summary: Correspondence, diaries, photographs and other papers, as well as artifacts, related to country life in New England, overland journey to Oregon in 1838, missionary work among the Spokane Indians at Tshimakain Mission, 1839-1848, and educational and religious activities in the Willamette Valley. Correspondence includes letters to and from family members, the ABCFM Mission Board, and other missionaries and settlers in Oregon.
Repository: Washington State University Libraries, Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections.
Contact Information: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library 5610
Pullman WA
Telephone: 509-335-6691
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

When Elkanah Walker (1805-1877) was a senior at the Bangor (Maine) Theological Seminary in 1836, he was planning a mission career among the Maritime Zoolaks of South Africa. He was told that it would perhaps be better for him to be married before undertaking such a mission. At the same time Mary Richardson (1811-1897) of Baldwin, Maine, was told that she too must be married to become a missionary. The result was a whirlwind courtship and marriage which did not go to South Africa but the equally distant and primitive Oregon Mission. Eventually settling at Tshimakain on Walker's Prairie near Spokane they ministered to the Spokane Indians and their fellow missionaries: Marcus Whitman, Cushing Eells, Henry H. Spalding and William H. Gray and their wives. After the Whitman Mission killings in 1847, the Walkers moved to Fort Colville for nearly three months and then spent the remainder of their days in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Here they helped establish the Congregational Association of Oregon City and Tualatin Academy (now Pacific University) at Forest Grove.

Content Description

The papers of the Walkers can be divided into three groups: the manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, documents and other papers of the Walkers and their family; photocopies of Walker papers from the files of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) and from the Huntington Library, as well as from the papers at Washington State University; and typescript transcripts of the documents and photocopies.

The original papers of Elkanah and Mary Walker consist of their correspondence, diaries, autograph albums, essays and photographs. In addition there is some correspondence and reminiscences of their children. The extensive correspondence file, while mostly incoming, is very complete for the earlier school days, their courtship and marriage, and their missionary experiences. There is very little regarding their life in the Willamette Valley. Perhaps the largest body of material is family letters from relatives in New England.

In addition there is an extensive run of the diaries of Mary Richardson Walker from 1833-1878, except for the two volumes which are now in the Huntington Library. There is also a volume of Elkanah Walker's diary, 1854-1857, which is primarily a register of ministerial services.

Both of the Walkers maintained autograph albums which were also used in the manner of a guest book while at Tshimakain. Other papers include Elkanah's theological notes made as a student, Mary's essay on the Discouragements & Consolations of missionaries written in 1837, constitutions of Maternal Associations, Elkanah's translation of the Book of Matthew into the Flathead or Spokane language, and Mary's drawings and paintings of botanical subjects.

Sons Joseph and Samuel wrote accounts of their parents which are in the collection, as is a portion of son Levi's scrapbook of clippings. The photographs are mostly portraits of the Walkers and their family.

Rounding out the gaps in the collection are photocopies of the material from the Huntington Library, San Marino, California, and the archives of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions, now in the Houghton Library, Harvard University. These include additional diaries and correspondence. A large part of the photocopies are of original material in the Washington State University Library.

Artifacts are also included in the collection: John Mix Stanley's portrait in oil of Abigail B. Walker, C.A. Geyer's sketch of Tshimakain, a pencil sketch of Mary Walker, and a photograph portrait of Samuel T. Walker; clothing and other textile items; a portable writing desk and bread paddle.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

This collection is open for research use.

Preferred Citation :  

[Item Description]. Cage 57, Elkanah and Mary Richardson Walker Papers . Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

This collection is arranged in four series: Series 1. Manuscripts and papers, 1830-1966; Series 2. Photocopies of documents from Walker collections at other repositories; Series 3. Typescript transcripts; Series 4. Artifacts.

Location of Originals :  

Rounding out some gaps in the collection are photocopies of the material from the Huntington Library, San Marino, California, and the archives of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions, now in the Houghton Library, Harvard University. These include additional diaries and correspondence. A large part of the photocopies in the collection are of original material in the Washington State University Library.

Acquisition Information :  

The papers of Elkanah and Mary Richardson Walker were acquired by gift and purchase from members of the family: S.T. Walker, Ruth Karr McKee, Eunice V. Karr, Elda R. Walker, Leva B. Walker, Josephine Claghorn Walker, Herbert J. Gilkey and Nellie M. Walker; and from Dr. C.M. Drury. Much of the collection was acquired through the efforts of Dr. Drury in researching the lives of the missionaries. These materials were acquired by Washington State University Library between 1935 and 1966. In 2014, the textiles and other artifacts in boxes 9-14 were transferred to the WSU Libraries from the WSU Historic Costume and Textile Collection (part of MS.2014.09).

Processing Note :  

The preliminary processing of the collection in the early 1940s was done by Lucille M. Luttropp, and included the preparation of typescripts of nearly all the manuscript and photocopy material in the collection. Much of this was bound and includes the diaries, the correspondence between the Walker's and the ABCFM, and the correspondence between Elkanah and Mary. Other transcripts, now in chronological order, were also made. In 1972, additional processing was done by Terry Abraham.

Bibliography :  

    These papers were extensively used by Dr. Clifford M. Drury in the preparation of his book Elkanah and Mary Walker; pioneers among the Spokanes. (Caldwell, Caxton, 1945. 283 p. illus.) Portions were also edited and used by Ruth Karr McKee, a grand-daughter of the Walkers, in Mary Richardson Walker: her book. (Caldwell, Caxton, 1945. 357 p. illus.)

    Dr. Drury described this collection in the Oregon Historical Quarterly 42 (September, 1941) 269-271.

Related Materials :  

In addition to manuscripts the Washington State University Library has received a large collection of books owned and used by the Walkers. These books are now cataloged and a web site devoted to the library may be found on the WSU MASC web site.

Additional materials on the Walkers may be found at the Whitman National Monument Collections, Walla Walla (NUCMC 61-1597); at the University of Oregon Library (Schmitt); Yale University Library (Washington); the Oregon Historical Society Manuscript Collections; at the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California (NUCMC 61-2207); and in the papers of C.M. Drury at the Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Spokane (NUCMC 61-1109). The archives of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions are now in the Houghton Library, Harvard University (NUCMC 61-1964).

Detailed Description of the Collection

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

Series 1: Manuscripts and papers, 1830-1966
750 items.
Subseries 1.1: Correspondence, 1830-1934
650 items.
1 / 1 undated
11 items.
1 / 2 1830-1831
21 items.
1 / 3 1832
22 items.
1 / 4 1833
27 items.
1 / 5 1834
33 items.
1 / 6 1835
47 items.
1 / 7 1836
47 items.
1 / 8 Jan-Jun, 1837
42 items.
1 / 9 Jul-Dec, 1837
33 items.
1 / 10 1838
36 items.
2 / 11 1839
25 items.
2 / 12 1840-1845
37 items.
2 / 13 1846-1848
28 items.
2 / 14 1849-1851
37 items.
2 / 15 1852-1854
32 items.
2 / 16 1855-1859
27 items.
2 / 17 1860-1869
32 items.
2 / 18 1870-1879
37 items.
2 / 19 1880-1934
10 items.
Subseries 1.2: Diaries of Mary Walker:, 1833-1878
14 items.
3 / 20 January 1, 1833-May 6, 1837
1 volume.
3 / 21 December 20, 1848-September 9, 1849
3 / 22 May 16, 1851-February 23, 1852
3 / 23 March 2, 1852-April 9, 1854
3 / 24 April 10, 1854-October 24, 1855
3 / 25 February 15, 1859-August 1, 1861
3 / 26 1871-1874
4 volumes.
3 / 27 1876-1878
3 volumes.
3 / 28 Diary and accounts of Elkanah Walker, November, 1854-November, 1857
1 volume.
Subseries 1.3: Autograph albums, 1832-1892
2 volumes.
3 / 29 Autograph album of Elkanah Walker, 1837-1853
1 volume.
3 / 30 Autograph album of Mary R. Walker, 1832-1892
1 volume.
Subseries 1.4: Essays and notes, 1836-1846
19 items.
3 / 31 E. Walker. Theological studies and notes, 1836-1838
3 / 32 M.R. Walker. The discouragements & consolations of missionaries; or the bitter and the sweet (an address), October, 1837
3 / 33 Constitution of the Willamette Falls Maternal Association, undated
3 / 33 Constitution of the Lynn and Oregon City Maternal Association, undated
3 / 34 Bible. New Testament. Matthew. Flathead. Translated by E. Walker, 1846
3 / 35 M Walker. Drawings and paintings, Some dated 1832
14 items.
Subseries 1.5: Miscellaneous items, reminiscences, letters, photographs, clippings, etc., 1840-1966
200 items.
4 / 36 Joseph Elkanah Walker. A sketch of the lives of Rev. Elkanah Walker and Mary Richardson Walker, undated
4 / 37 Joseph Elkanah Walker. Pedigrees, Walker, Richardson, Thompson, Hay, Boutwell, Kendall with foreword and additional notes by Herbert J, Gilkey, 1910; , 1968
4 / 38.1 Elkanah Walker., 1855
4 / 38.2 Mary Richardson Walker (photo by Bowers, Lynn, Mass.), Sept 27, 1871
4 / 38.3 Mary and Elkanah Walker., 1855
4 / 38.4 Marcus W. Walker and Samuel T. Walker by D.G. Hendee, Milwaukee, Oregon, 1855
4 / 38.5 Joseph Richardson., 1840
4 / 38.6 Samuel, Levi, Joseph and Cyrus Walker, Forest Grove., 1907 September 7
4 / 38.7 James A. Karr., 1913 September 14
4 / 38.8 Abigail B. Karr., 1913 September 14
4 / 38.9 Jannetta M. Walker, Foochow, China., October, 1873
4 / 38.1 Geyer drawing of Tshimakain Mission., 1843
4 / 38.11 Samuel T. Walker., 1939
4 / 38.12 Walker Family: Mary, Cyrus, Abigail, Marcus, Joseph, John, Levi, and Samuel on lawn in front of first frame house in Forest Grove., 1896
4 / 38.13 Four Generations: Mary, Abigail, Olive and Wilna., 1891
4 / 38.14 Mary Walker's trunk., 1936
4 / 38.15 Mary Walker's trunk and briefcase., 1936
Clippings, reminiscences, and miscellaneous items
4 / 39 Clippings re: Tshimakain Centennial Celebration, 1938 September 18
5 items
4 / 40 Levi C. Walker scrapbook: clippings and other papers re: missionary work in Oregon and China, 1887-1908
20 items
4 / 41 Samuel T. Walker. (Reminiscences), 1935
4 / 42 First Congregational Church of Christ in Baldwin and the "Emerson Meeting-House.", 1936
4 / 43 Donor File and container list, 1935-1966
150 items

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Series 2: Photocopies
225 items.
Subseries 2.1: Huntington Library
8 items.
4 / 44 Elkanah Walker. Journal to the Rocky Mountains (Huntington Library), 1838
4 / 45 Elkanah Walker. Diary (Huntington Library), June 3-October 13, 1848
4 / 46 Mary Richardson Walker Diary (Huntington Library), May 9, 1837-March 5, 1838
4 / 47 Mary Richardson Walker. Diary (Huntington Library), September 30-November 11, 1848
4 / 48 Letters to Elkanah Walker, from P.C. Pambrun, A.B. Smith and David Greene (Huntington Library), 1840-1843
3 items, photocopy.
Subseries 2.2: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
17 items.
5 / 49 American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions Correspondence received. Letters from E. Walker, M.R. Walker and others in favor of their going on the mission to Oregon; and the authorization by the Oregon Mission for Whitman to return to the U.S., 1836-1842
17 items, photocopy.
Subseries 2.3: Indian Office
1 item
5 / 50 E. Walker and C. Eells Letter, Cimakain, to Elijah White, sub-agent, Indian Office re: Spokane Indians. Also White's explanatory note and statement: "This is a true copy. E. White", January 9, 1843
Subseries 2.4: Washington State University Library
200 items.
5 / 51-55 Photocopies of Walker Mission material in the Washington State University Library
200 items.

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Series 3: Typescript transcripts
120 items.
6 / 56 Journal of Mary Richardson Walker, January 1, 1833-May 6, 1837
6 / 57 Journal of Mary Richardson Walker, March 5, 1838-October 1, 1848
6 / 58 Journal of Mary Richardson Walker, September 30, 1848-January 1, 1879
6 / 59 Letters concerning Elkanah and Mary Richardson Walker and American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1836-1859. State College of Washington, 1941
7 / 60 Letters between Elkanah Walker and Mary Richardson Walker, 1837-1873. State College of Washington, 1940
7 / 61 Walker family correspondence, obituaries and geneology, 1917-1921.
7 / 62-63 Diary of Mary Richardson Walker, 1838-1848. Transcription by C.M. Drury, 1960
Subseries 3.1: Letters, diaries, essays, notebooks and other papers connected with the Walker Mission, 1821-1885
7 / 64 1821-1838
64 items, typescript.
7 / 65 1839-1885
42 items, typescript.

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Series 4: Artifacts
8 Items removed from Walker family books (pressed flowers and leaves; two small paintings), circa 1800s
9 Cape (Mary Richardson Walker)
10 Lengths of homespun fabric, with repairs (2); baby shirt
11 Collection documentation file (transferred with artifacts from WSU Historic Costume and Textile Collection)
12 Thimbles (4), pincushions (2)
13 Lace collar, ribbons, scarf, hot pad
14 Writing desk

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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 :
  • Walker, Elkanah, 1805-1877 --Archives  ( creator)
  • Walker, Mary Richardson, 1811-1897
  • Corporate Names :
  • American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions  ( creator)
  • Historical Map Collection. waps --Archives  ( creator)
  • Spokane Indians--Missions
  • Geographical Names :
  • New England--Social life and customs
  • Subject Terms :
  • Indians of North America--Northwest, Pacific--Missions
  • Missions -- Oregon--History--Sources
  • Overland journeys to the Pacific
    • Occupations :
    • Missionaries--Oregon --Correspondence

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