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Henry Harmon Spalding family papers, 1778-1874
- Spalding, Henry Harmon, 1803-1874
- Henry Harmon Spalding family papers
- 1778-1874 (inclusive)17781874
- 3.2 cubic feet, (1 legal document case; 1 slim legal document case; 1 oversize framed item)
- Collection Number
- Mss 1201
- Papers of Henry H. Spalding, a Presbyterian missionary to the Oregon Territory; his first wife, Eliza Hart Spalding; and his second wife, Rachel Spalding. Primarily contains typescript and photostatic copies of correspondence, diaries, and other papers relating to Henry H. Spalding's missionary work. Subjects include: the overland journey, the Nimiipuu (Nez Percé) people, conditions in the Oregon Country, and the Whitman killings of 1847. Some original letters are included. Also includes microfilm of books that the Spalding mission published in Nimipuutímt (Nez Percé) and Npoqínišcn (Spokane) languages.
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
1200 SW Park Avenue
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research.
- Additional Reference Guides
Eliza Hart Spalding's diary is described in "Overland passages: a guide to overland documents in the Oregon Historical Society," entry 190, and listed in "Platte River road narratives," entry 30.
Biographical NoteReturn to Top
Reverend Henry Harmon Spalding was born on November 26, 1803, in New York. In 1825 he entered Franklin Academy, and in 1831 he enrolled in Western Reserve College, graduating in 1833. On October 13, 1833, he married Eliza Hart (born in Connecticut, July 11, 1807) with whom he would have four children: Eliza, Henry Hart, Martha, and Amelia. That same year, he entered Lane Theological Seminary, and following the completion of his studies in 1835 he applied for work under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. In the summer of 1836, Henry H. Spalding and Eliza Hart Spalding crossed the continent with Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and established a mission to convert the Nimiipuu (Nez Percé) people. The mission was at Lapwai, in a part of the Oregon Territory that would later become Idaho.
Following the Whitman killings in late 1847, the Spaldings moved to Brownsville, Oregon Territory. There Henry H. Spalding farmed, taught school, preached at the local Presbyterian church, and served as school commissioner, postmaster, and Indian agent. Eliza Hart Spalding died in Brownsville on January 7, 1851. Henry H. Spalding remarried in 1853 to Rachel Johonet Smith (1808-1880). He returned to the Nimiipuu (Nez Percé) country in 1859, taking up farming on the Touchet River. In 1863, he went back to Lapwai, and from then until 1866 he was the local Indian agent. He made an overland trip to the East in 1870, returning to Lapwai in 1871. There he continued his missionary work until his death on August 3, 1874.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The bulk of the collection consists of typescript and photostatic copies of letters and diaries, although some original letters are included. The collection contains the correspondence of Henry H. Spalding (1835-1874), Eliza Spalding (1846-1849), and Rachel Spalding (1870-1874); and diaries of Henry H. Spalding (1838-1843) and Eliza Hart Spalding (1836-1840) describing the overland journey and operation of the mission. The collection's correspondence concerns missionary activities, conflicts between Indigenous peoples and Euro-American emigrants, conditions in the Oregon Country and Walla Walla area, Catholic missionaries, the Whitman killings, and Henry H. Spalding's 1870 trip to the East Coast. Correspondents include Dudley Allen, David Greene, and members of the Prentiss family. Some letters include anti-Catholic sentiments.
Eliza Hart Spalding's diary (1836-1840) describes the Spalding party's overland journey from Plattsburg, New York (February 1, 1836) to Fort Walla Walla (September 3, 1836) and the formation of the Whitman mission; travels from Cincinnati to Walla Walla with Marcus Whitman and Narcissa Whitman; and a daily listing of Bible passages selected for meditation.
Additional materials in the collection include a report on the number and condition of Indigenous tribes west of the Cascade Mountains; lectures and essays concerning the history of relations with the Nimiipuu (Nez Percé) people, missionary labors, and Spalding's views on the impact of early missions in the Pacific Northwest; and books published by the Spalding Mission in Nimipuutímt (Nez Percé) and Npoqínišcn (Spokane) languages.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
Diaries and letters of Henry H. Spalding are published in "The Diaries and Letters of Henry H. Spalding and Asa Bowen Smith Relating to the Nez Percé Mission, 1838-1842" (Glendale, Calif.: A. H. Clark Co., 1958). Eliza Hart Spalding's diary is published in "First White Women over the Rockies, edited by Clifford Merrill Drury (Glendale, Calif.: A. H. Clark Company, 1963).
Henry Harmon Spalding family papers, Mss 1201, Oregon Historical Society Research Library
The Oregon Historical Society owns the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
The collection is arranged in two series: Series 1. Henry Harmon Spalding papers; Series 2. Eliza Hart Spalding and Rachel Spalding papers.
Acquired prior to 1971, including gifts and acquisitions made in 1900, 1903, and 1906 (RL2021-020-RETRO, RL2021-021-RETRO, RL2021-022-RETRO, RL2021-023-RETRO, RL2021-024-RETRO, RL2021-025-RETRO, and RL2021-038-RETRO). Photostatic reproduction of Spalding's 1861 letter to American Home Missionary Society of New York may have been the gift of Edwin Payne in February 1958 (Lib. Acc. 7301). Letter from Spalding to Stephen Prentiss and Clarissa Prentiss was acquired by George Himes from Narcissa Whitman's sister, Harriet P. Jackson, prior to August 1893 (RL2022-054-RETRO).
Originals of some of the materials are located at Washington State University, Pullman, Washington; and at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington. Originals of microfilmed books are located at the archives of Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon.
The Protestant ladder in this collection is not available for direct access; researchers are asked to use the digitized version viewable online.
Additional papers relating to Protestant missionaries in the Pacific Northwest can be found in Mss 1200 through Mss 1225, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
Series 1: Henry Harmon Spalding papers, 1829-1874Return to Top
Subseries 1: Correspondence
Correspondence from David Greene to Henry H. Spalding about Spalding's appointment as missionary and missionary work (typescript copies)
Correspondence from Henry H. Spalding to William Porter and Edward Porter about Oregon, Indigenous tribes, Hudson Bay Company, mission locations, and John McLoughlin (photostatic reproductions of two letters)
Correspondence from Henry H. Spalding to Dudley Allen (typescript copies of four letters and three partial letters)
Letter from Henry H. Spalding to Mr. and Mrs. Bridges (photostatic reproduction and typescript copy)
|1840 May 5|
Letter from Henry H. Spalding to Dudley Allen about life at the mission and clothes needed (photostatic reproduction and typescript copy)
|1842 February 18|
Letter from Henry H. Spalding to Mrs. Hinsdale about conflicts between missionaries and Indigenous people, potential of conflict due to Euro-American emigration and purchase of land by the U.S. government, and needed clothing (typescript copy)
|1842 August 17|
Letter from Henry H. Spalding to Mr. Geiger about mission affairs (typescript copy)
|1843 May 10|
Correspondence from Henry H. Spalding to David Greene (typescript copies of Archives of the A.B.C.F.M. Volume 248, Letters 129-139)
Letter from Henry H. Spalding to women of the Presbyterian Church in Kinsman, Ohio (typescript copy)
|1845 September 15|
Letter from Henry H. Spalding to Dudley Allen about mission life, and deriding Indigenous medicinal practices and rituals (original, photostatic reproduction, three typescript copies)
|1845 October 9|
Letter from Henry H. Spalding to Stephen Prentiss and Clarissa Prentiss, parents of Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, about the Whitman killings (original and typescript copy)
|1848 April 6|
Letter from Henry H. Spalding to secretaries of the American Home Missionary Society of New York about description of Oregon Country, emigrant routes, prices of crops, changes in town of Walla Walla, and criticizing perceived sinfulness of Walla Walla residents (photostatic reproduction)
|1861 January 2|
Correspondence from Henry H. Spalding to P. F. Marshall (photostatic reproductions of eight letters)
Letter from "Horace" to Henry H. Spalding about weather (fragment of original)
Correspondence from Henry H. Spalding to Rachel Spalding during his trip to the East Coast (originals of 12 letters)
Correspondence from Henry H. Spalding to Rachel Spalding during his trip to the East Coast (typescript copies of 12 letters)
Correspondence from Henry H. Spalding to Rachel Spalding during his trip to the East Coast (originals of four letter fragments)
Letter from M. L. Berry to Henry H. Spalding accompanying financial contribution to Spalding's missionary labors (original)
|1871 April 10|
Letter from John H. Dey to Henry H. Spalding about publication of a U.S. Senate document written by Spalding (original)
|1871 April 21|
Letter from J. B. Stowell to Henry H. Spalding about Spalding's trip east, and church business (original)
|1871 September 13|
Letter from Henry H. Spalding to Gerry, Chief of the Spokanes, inviting Indigenous preachers to a camp meeting to be held on April 2 (photostatic reproduction)
|1874 March 28|
Subseries 2: Diary (photostatic reproduction)
|1838 November 26-1839 November 30|
|1839 December 1-1941 January 21|
|1841 February 1-1843 February 7|
Pages 89-111 (lists of names)
Subseries 3: Missionary publications (microfilm of originals)
Mss 1200-Mss 1225 Microfilm: New Testament in Nimipuutímt (Nez Percé)
Mss 1200-Mss 1225 Microfilm: Book in Nimipuutímt (Nez Percé), "Nez Perce's First Book: Designed for Children and New Beginners"
Mss 1200-Mss 1225 Microfilm: Book in Nimipuutímt (Nez Percé), "Numipuain Shapahitamanash Timash"
Mss 1200-Mss 1225 Microfilm: Book in Npoqínišcn (Spokane) language published for use by Elkanah Walker's mission, "Etshiit Thlu Sitskai Thlu Siais Thlu Siskaisitlinish"
Subseries 4: Other papers
Typescripts of articles Spalding wrote for The Pacific: "History of Indian Affairs among the Nez Perces"; "Early Missionary Labors among the Indians of Oregon"
|1865 May 25-October 19|
Typescript of lectures by Spalding published in the Walla Walla Statesman, "Early Oregon Missions - Their Importance in Securing the Country to Americans"
|1866 February 9|
Memorial for Mrs. J. T. Blanchard (original)
|1829 June 1|
Note about Spalding's journey from Brownsville, Oregon to Hillsboro, Oregon, author unidentified (original)
Protestant ladder (original)
Report, "Statement of number and condition of Indian Tribes West of Cascade Mts." (typescript copy)
Series 2: Eliza Hart Spalding and Rachel Spalding papers, 1778-1874Return to Top
Letter from Eliza Spalding to Mrs. Allen about heavy burdens of mission work and isolation, appreciation for flower and garden seeds (two typescript copies)
|1846 March 31|
Letter from Eliza Spalding to Mary Richardson Walker (original)
|1849 July 24|
Eliza Spalding diary (bound typescript copy)
Eliza Spalding diary (photostatic reproduction)
Typescript of memorial address delivered by Reverend James Dixon at Eliza Spalding's grave
Letter from Rachel Spalding to Henry H. Spalding about health, Washington County fair, and stage fare to Portland (original)
Letter from Amelia L. Spalding Brown to Rachel Spalding, expressing skepticism about the use of Henry H. Spalding's trip to the East Coast on account of perceived Catholic influence in the U.S. government, and discussing recent robbery of Spalding residence (original)
|1870 October 26|
Envelope addressed to Rachel Spalding (original)
Letter from Rachel Spalding to "Pubs. of Interior" about bill payment, and informing them of Henry H. Spalding's death (original)
|1874 August 31|
Fragment of letter from "Aunt Irene," possibly to Rachel Spalding (original)
Card, "To Rachael Johnonnotte on the death of her amiable Mother, who died June 20, 1778" (original)
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Indians of North America--Missions--Northwest, Pacific
- Missionaries--Northwest, Pacific
- Nez Percé Indians--Missions
- Overland journeys to the Pacific
- Women missionaries--Northwest, Pacific
- Spalding, Eliza Hart, 1807-1851
- Spalding, Henry Harmon, 1803-1874
- Spalding, Rachel, 1808-1880
Form or Genre Terms
- Spalding, Eliza Hart, 1807-1851
- Spalding, Rachel, 1808-1880