William Henry Gray Papers, 1835-1907  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Gray, William Henry, 1810-1889
William Henry Gray Papers
1835-1907 (inclusive)
1835-1846 (bulk)
0.2 cubic feet, (1 document box)
Collection Number
Mss 1202
Papers of Dr. William Henry Gray, a physician and lay missionary for the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions who was active in the Oregon Territory. Includes typescripts of letters and other documents regarding missionary activities; typescript of the diary of Gray's wife, Mary Augusta Dix Gray; and original manuscript of William Henry Gray's diary, 1836-1837.
Oregon Historical Society, Davies Family Research Library
Davies Family Research Library
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Dr. William Henry Gray, a physician and lay missionary for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, was born on May 10, 1810. In 1836, he joined Marcus Whitman and Henry H. Spalding to travel overland and establish a mission for the Indians of the Oregon Country. In 1837, Gray traveled east in order to obtain more recruits for the missions and returned the following year with his new bride, Mary Augusta Dix Gray. William Gray was also instrumental in the formation of Oregon's Provisional and Territorial governments.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Papers include: Correspondence (1835-1846) of William Gray concerning his interest in missionary service under Dr. Marcus Whitman; journal (1835-1837) of William Gray describing eastward overland journey to New York; passport (1838) allowing Gray to travel through Indian Country; materials (undated) related to Gray's History of Oregon; certificate of appointment as assistant missionary; and papers (1846) related to the Josiah L. Parrish land claim dispute. Also includes typescript copy (1840-1842) of diary kept by Mary Augusta Dix Gray during her service at various missions, containing infrequent entries describing daily activities and life as a lay missionary. Correspondents include fellow missionaries David Greene and Elkanah Walker.

The manuscript journal of William Gray contains a record of his eastward journey from Fort Vancouver (March 1, 1837) to Utica, New York (October 15, 1837) on a quest to recruit additional missionaries for H. H. Spalding's mission. In the journal, Gray describes leaving the mission for the Hudson's Bay Company post where he joins the overland party. He notes scalping of Indians by whites at Ash Hollow, the robbery of his equipment, and his forced descent into the Platte Basin to Missouri River posts without supplies. It is unclear whether this manuscript was written at the time of the journey or shortly thereafter. The collection also includes correspondence, 1905, concerning the acquisition of the William Gray journal by the Oregon Historical Society

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library before any reproduction use. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

William Henry Gray Papers, Mss 1202, Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

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

Container(s) Description Dates
1/1 Letters about the Grays 1835-1838
1/2 William Gray letter to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (typescript copy) 1836
1/3 Letter from William Gray (copies in manuscript and typescript) 1836
1/4 Letters to U.S. Government Agencies concerning Sioux attacks (typescript copies) 1837
1/5 Letter to William Gray (photostatic copy) 1843
1/6 Documents concerning the Gray-Parrish controvery
The controvery involved a land claim in Clackamas County, arbitrated by John Heard Couch, James Taylor, and Fred C. Prigg.
1/7 William Gray documents 1838, 1866
1/8 Manuscripts relating toWilliam Gray's History of Oregon
Includes text of footnotes and manuscript copies of correspondence.
1/9 Original journal of William Gray 1836-1837
1/10 Typescript transcription of William Gray journal undated
1/11 Diary of Mary Gray (typescript transcription) 1840-1842
1/12 Correspondence concerning William Gray's journal
Correspondence between Professor Charles H. Hull of Cornell University and Professor F. G. Young of the University of Oregon.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Indians of North America--Missions--Northwest, Pacific
  • Lay missionaries--Northwest, Pacific--Correspondence
  • Lay missionaries--Northwest, Pacific--Diaries
  • Nez Perc√© Indians--Missions
  • Women missionaries--Northwest, Pacific--Diaries
  • Personal Names :
  • Gray, William Henry, 1810-1889--Correspondence
  • Gray, William Henry, 1810-1889--Diaries
  • Parish, Josiah L., 1806-1895
  • Corporate Names :
  • American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions--Archives
  • Geographical Names :
  • Oregon--History--To 1859
  • West (U.S.)--Description and travel
  • West (U.S.)--History--To 1848
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Diaries
  • Journals
  • Letters
  • Occupations :
  • Missionaries
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Gray, Mary Augusta Dix, 1810-1881--Diaries (creator)
    • Greene, David, fl. 1838-1847--Correspondence (creator)
    • Walker, Elkanah, 1805-1877--Correspondence (creator)