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Nathaniel S. Wheaton Papers

Identifier: Nathaniel S. Wheaton papers

Scope and Contents

This collection contains notebooks, journals, correspondence, account books, records of expenditures, and invoices for books purchased for Trinity College while Nathaniel S. Wheaton (1792-1862) was in Europe. Wheaton's journals cover his life in Europe and his tours of England, Scotland, and France during the 1820s, as well as a trip to continental Europe (including Italy) between 1845 and 1847. The student notebooks contain school materials from 1814-1816, when Wheaton was a student at Yale University.


  • Creation: 1814-1847


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the John M.K. Davis Reading Room of the Watkinson Library, Trinity College Library, Hartford, Connecticut. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws when using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital surrogates may be provided to researchers, in accordance with the duplication policy of the Watkinson Library.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information (e.g. social security numbers) in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1792 in Washington, Connecticut, Nathaniel Sheldon Wheaton graduated from Yale College in 1814 and was ordained as an Episocopal priest in 1818 in Maryland. Elected as assistant rector of Christ Church in Hartford and secretary of the Trustees of the newly chartered college, Wheaton was sent in 1823 by the trustees to England to obtain for Washington College financial support and book donations. Between October 1823 and November 1824, he remained in England long enough to raise about $2000, some of which he spent to purchase scientific equipment and about a thousand books for what became Washington (later Trinity) College's library. He published an extensive account of his travels in the Episocopal Watchman in 1827-1829, which was published a year later as Journal of a Residence in London, as well as Tours in England, Scotland, and France.

As a Trustee of Washington College, Wheaton sat on a committee to plan a course of study and discipline for the students. He also published what historian Glenn Weaver deemed "the first catalogue of the College". At a period of difficult finances for the college, in April 1826 Wheaton was appointed to a committee of the Trustees charged with increasing the funds for the college. Two years later, amidst these duties to the college, Wheaton became the first rector of Hartford's African Mission School, an Episcopal instutition devoted to training African-American clergy to become missionaries or teachers in Africa. In October 1831, Wheaton was unanimously elected as President of Washington College at a salary of $1200. He occupied the post until his resignation six years later. During these years, Wheaton continued many of the college structures and policies which President Brownell had helped nurture. The number of library books increased on campus, mainly through the temporary deposit of 5,000 recently-published books of history and literature by the Reverend Samuel F. Jarvis, who was given a professorship in exchange, even though Jarvis lived in absentia and did not teach until his return to Hartford in 1835. Wheaton may have disapproved of Jarvis's unusual relationship to the college. In 1833, Wheaton received the doctor of divinity from Yale University.

In February 1837, Wheaton resigned from Washington College in order to take the rectorship of Christ Church in New Orleans. Wheaton's time in New Orleans, which lasted seven years, may have increased his connections to slavery and its defense. According to the 1840 U.S. Census, Wheaton owned a male slave between the ages of 36 and 50. Two years later, he was appointed Chairman of the Louisiana State Colonization Society. In his overtly pro-slavery discourse on St. Paul's epistle, delivered in December 1850 at Christ Church in Hartford, Reverend Wheaton asked, "Is not obedience in the slave, according to the apostolic standard, made a duty as sacred as any other duty, social or moral? (p. 12)." The speech was published in 1851 as A Discourse on St. Paul’s epistle to Philemon. On March 18, 1862, Wheaton died at Marbledale, Connecticut, leaving $20,000 for Trinity College in his will. One half of that amount was allotted for the construction of a new chapel on campus.


1.5 Cubic Feet (5 flat boxes)

Language of Materials



Materials are arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source Unknown.

Processing Information

Processing was conducted at any undetermined point in time prior to the 2018 revision of the finding aid.

Guide to the Nathaniel S. Wheaton papers
In Progress
Michelle C. Sigiel and Eric C. Stoykovich
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-01-09: Title changed by Eric C. Stoykovich from "Nathaniel S. Wheaton Collection".

Repository Details

Part of the Trinity College Archives Repository

Watkinson Library
300 Summit St.
Hartford CT 06106 USA