Samuel Farmar Jarvis Family papers
Scope and Contents
Correspondents include: Samuel Farmar Jarvis, Samuel Fermor Jarvis, Harriette Dobson Jarvis, Jeanette Margaret Hart, Sarah McCurdy (Hart) Jarvis, Antoinette Jarvis, Christine Jarvis, Tillotson Bronson, Jonathan W. Wainwright, James F. DePeyster, and Mrs. Bishton.
- March 26, 1811-September 3, 1850
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Biographical / Historical
In 1826, Reverend Samuel Farmar Jarvis loaned his library of 4,000 or so volumes of leading recent authors to Washington College (later Trinity College). Then he and his family left for Europe. Over the next decade Jarvis would assist in the purchase and donation of books to Washington College, which grew its book collection to 14,000 volumes by 1837, outranking Yale's stash of 10,000 books. In 1828, the college honored these bibliophilic actions by establishing for Jarvis a Professorship of Oriental Languages and Literature. The Trustees seem to have expected that one day, upon his return to America, Jarvis would fill this post, from which he would teach Hebrew and pursue his ecclesiastical history. He was listed for seven years in the school's Catalogues before he started teaching, thereby contributing to the idea that the faculty was larger than it actually was.
And it was not until 1835 that Jarvis returned from Europe and he did so while in the midst of his wife trying to divorce him for physical abuse. Still, he arrived in Hartford and occupied rooms in Jarvis Hall (named after Samuel's father). That fall he taught a non-credit course of Hebrew three nights a week to twenty upperclassmen, taught two French classes, and also instructed on Lord Kames' teachings on the scientific pursuit of artistic and literary criticism. He helped found the Natural History Society of Hartford.
In the summer of 1836, Jarvis also troubled matters when he sent a missive to the Washington College Trustees asking them to account for books missing from the personal library he had deposited at the college. Jarvis' antagonism to President Wheaton may have contributed to the latter's departure from the post early the next year, according to historian Glenn Weaver.
On August 2, 1837, Dr. Jarvis resigned his faculty professorship at Washington College and took the rectorship of Holy Trinity Church in Middletown, from which he continued to teach theology to several graduates of the college. Jarvis' views on the importance of conforming to the Prayer Book during worship led him to take the side of the High Churchmen who feared that Washington College had succumbed to a "Low Church Party." He became historiographer of the Episcopal Church in the United States.
Leaving Hartford, Jarvis took a honorary law degree from Washington College with him, as well as his library (totaling about 8,000 of the volumes out of the 14,000 volume collection at the college). This removal was a major setback, as it took ten years for Washington College to once again proudly report its book total. Even then, in 1847, the Trinity collection amounted to only 9,000 volumes.
The animosity between Jarvis and the college waned. In 1841, he was elected to the college's Board of Trustees and became a Fellow four years later. In August 1844, the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church, Arthur Cleveland Coxe, wrote to Jarvis to demonstrate his determination "that Trinity College Hartford shall be made a college worthy of the Church and an example to the country." In 1846, he helped organize the "American Society" or "Ecclesiological Society" with Coxe, with the hopes of encouraging the formal study of liturgy among students and alumni of Trinity College. His continued machinations may have led to President Totten's departure from Trinity in August 1848.
Samuel Farmar Jarvis died on March 26, 1851.
His son, Samuel Fermor Jarvis (1825-1910), served as Trinity College's first independently-serving Librarian from 1852 to 1854.
4 Folder(s) (1 small flat archival box) ; 10.25 x 12 inches
Language of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Guide to the Samuel Farmar Jarvis family papers
- College Archivist Eric C. Stoykovich
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
Part of the Watkinson Library Manuscripts Repository
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