COLLECTION GUIDES

1659-1721

Guide to the Microfilm Edition


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection is Part II of the Mather Family Microfilm, a joint publication of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society. The collection consists of the papers of Congregational clergyman Increase Mather (1639-1723), including diaries, correspondence, and religious writings.

Biographical Sketch

Increase Mather, the youngest son of the Reverend Richard Mather (1596-1669) of Dorchester, and the father of Cotton Mather (1663-1728), has been described as the "foremost American Puritan" of his generation. Teacher of the Second Church of Boston for more than fifty years, president of Harvard College from 1685 to 1701, agent for the Massachusetts Bay Colony in England to request the return of the charter, and the author of approximately 175 books, pamphlets, prefaces, and printed sermons, Mather was intimately involved in political and religious affairs in Boston during the last four decades of the 17th century.

1639
Born in Dorchester on June 21.
1651
Entered Harvard College.
1656
Graduated from Harvard with A.B. degree.
1657
Preached first sermon; embarked for Ireland where he entered Trinity College, Dublin.
1658
Received M.A. at Trinity; preached in the place of John Howe (1630-1705) at Great Torrington, Devonshire.
1659-1660
Chaplain of the English garrison at Guernsey.
1661
Returned to New England; preached for the first time at the Second Church in Boston.
1662
Married Maria Cotton (1642-1714), his stepsister; argued against the Half-Way Covenant.
1663
Birth of Cotton Mather, the eldest of his ten children.
1664
Ordained the teacher of the Second Church on May 27.
1667
The Mystery of Israel's Salvation published.
1669
Death of his father and brother Eleazar (1637-1669); serious illness.
1670
The Life and Death of that Reverend Man of God, Mr. Richard Mather published.
1674
Appointed one of the licensers of the press.
1675
Fellow of Harvard College.
1676
Publication of A Brief History of the War with the Indians in New-England.
1680
Moderated the second session of the "Reforming Synod" in Boston; A Confession of Faith agreed upon; preface written by Mather.
1681
Declined offer of the presidency of Harvard College.
1683
Massachusetts Bay Colony called upon to surrender its charter; Boston Philosophical Society founded.
1684
Publication of An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences.
1685
Appointed acting president of Harvard College; continued in the pulpit of the Second Church.
1686-1688
Controversy over the surrendered charter and the "forged letter"; Mather arrested.
1688-1692
Traveled to England with petitions from the Congregational churches; from 1690 an official agent of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1692
Returned to Boston with Governor William Phips (1651-1695), arrived on May 14; outbreak of suspected witchcraft at Salem.
1693
Publication of Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men and The Great Blessing, of Primitive Counsellours.
1699
Mather's political views presented in The Surest Way to the Greatest Honour.
1701
Resigned the presidency of Harvard College rather than leave the pulpit of the Second Church.
1702-1723
Devoted the remainder of his life to his religious duties and writing.
1710
A Discourse Concerning the Grace of Courage delivered before the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.
1714
Maria (Cotton) Mather died.
1715
Married Ann (Lake) Cotton, the widow of his nephew John Cotton (1658-1710); declined invitation to attend the accession of George I because of his advanced age.
1723
Died in Boston on August 23.

Collection Description

This collection consists of the diaries, correspondence, documents, writings, and sermons of Increase Mather and represents the largest single extant collection of Increase Mather manuscripts. The collection is divided into six series: I. Diaries, II. Diary transcripts, III. Correspondence, IV. Writings, V. Miscellany, and VI. Sermons and sermon notes.

While Mather's diary entries are concerned, in large part, with devotional matters, the manuscripts of his writings and correspondence indicate the breadth of his wide-ranging interests, including education, history, politics, and science. Many of Mather's published writings deal with theological matters, but he also wrote important historical and scientific works, including A Brief History of the War with the Indians in New-England, a contemporary account of King Philip's War, and An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences, one of the first scientific writings in America.

This microfilm is Part II of the Mather Family Microfilm, a joint publication of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society. It contains manuscripts held by both institutions. The holder of the original manuscript has been noted in this guide with "(AAS)" for the American Antiquarian Society and "(MHS)" for the Massachusetts Historical Society. Most of the diary volumes and all of the manuscript sermons and sermon notes described herein are found in the Mather family papers at the American Antiquarian Society. For a complete description of the American Antiquarian Society's original manuscript holdings, see the guide to the Mather family papers, 1613-1819, at the American Antiquarian Society.

Acquisition Information

The bulk of the Mather family papers at the American Antiquarian Society, of which the Increase Mather papers form one of five major subdivisions, were purchased from Hannah Mather Crocker (1752-1829), the great-granddaughter of Increase Mather, by Isaiah Thomas and donated to the American Antiquarian Society by Thomas in 1814.

Other items in the Mather family papers at the American Antiquarian Society, including items in the Increase Mather papers, were the gifts of Thomas Walcut, 1834; Charles Chauncy Clark, 1835; the estate of Thaddeus Mason Harris, 1937; George Mather Randle, 1934; and Michael G. Hall, 1978.

The Increase Mather papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society consist of gifts of individual items, including those from Elizabeth Belknap, 1858, Sarah Louisa Byles, 1881, and Matt B. Jones, 1937, and purchases by the MHS.

For the present edition, Increase Mather materials from other collections at the Massachusetts Historical Society have been inserted chronologically, by type, to form a complete file of all Increase Mather manuscripts held by the MHS. Collections from which Increase Mather manuscripts have been drawn include: the papers of Jeremy Belknap, Mellen Chamberlain, Benjamin Colman, and John Davis; the miscellaneous bound manuscripts collection; the papers of James Otis, Sr., and Thomas Prince; the Saltonstall family papers; and the Alexander C. Washburn autograph collection.

Restrictions on Use

Requests for permission to publish should be directed to the institution in possession of the original manuscript.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Diaries, [1659?]-1721

Arranged chronologically.

This series consists of Increase Mather diaries and diary fragments.

Reel 1
[1659?], 1663, 1664-1667 (AAS)

Four pages of entries in England, 3 Jan. - 26 Dec. [1659?]; four entries in 1663; entries, 5 Feb. 1664 - 20 June 1667. Inscribed "Crescentius Matherus" and bound in Rider's "British Merlin," 1660. 100 leaves.

Reel 1
25 Mar. 1675 - 7 Dec. 1676 (MHS)

[6], 49, 46-86 p. (i.e. p. 46-49 repeated).

Reel 1
6 Sep. 1680 - 25 July 1684 (AAS)

Inscribed "I. Mather, 1680." Includes seven pages of expense accounts, 1680-1684. 95 leaves.

Reel 1
Mar. 1688 - 24 Mar. 1689 (AAS)

Concerning trip to England for the Massachusetts Bay charter. Includes 26 pages of expenses, addresses, etc. 50 leaves.

Reel 1
1691 (MHS)

List of expenses written on verso of four end leaves. Also contains four loose manuscript fragments. Interleaved in Rider's "British Merlin." [4], 45, [21] p.

Reel 1
25 Mar. 1693 - 24 Mar. 1693/94 (AAS)

22 leaves.

Reel 1
1 Jan. 1694/95 - 22 Mar. 1695/96 (AAS)

34 leaves.

Reel 1
25 Mar. 1696 - 24 Mar. 1696/97 (AAS)

34 leaves.

Reel 1
25 Mar. 1697 - 25 Feb. 1698 (AAS)

30 leaves.

Reel 1
4 Mar. 1698 - Feb. 1699 (AAS)

Includes eight pages of notes, medicines, etc. 31 leaves.

Reel 1
1 Mar. 1702 - 31 Dec. 1702 (AAS)

19 leaves.

Reel 1
1 Jan. 1703/04 - 31 Dec. 1704 (AAS)

Includes seven pages of notes on a European storm. 25 leaves.

Reel 1
1 Jan. 1704/05 - 23 Oct. 1705 (AAS)

19 leaves, including one mutilated leaf.

Reel 1
[1706] (AAS)

Diary missing; 3 leaves of notes.

Reel 1
1 Jan. 1716/17 - 31 Dec. 1717 (AAS)

15 leaves, including one mutilated leaf.

Reel 1
1 Jan. 1720/21 - 31 Dec. 1721 (AAS)

16 leaves, including one mutilated leaf.

II. Diary transcripts, [1659?]-1717

Arranged chronologically.

This series consists of typescript copies of Increase Mather diaries, including one undated item at the end. The typescripts were prepared by Michael G. Hall.

Reel 1
[1659?], 1663, 1664-1667 (AAS)

58 leaves.

Reel 1
1675-1676 (AAS)

69 leaves.

Reel 1
1680-1684 (AAS)

117 leaves.

Reel 1
1688-1689 (AAS)

64 leaves.

Reel 2
1691 (AAS)

64 leaves.

Reel 2
1693 (AAS)

34 leaves.

Reel 2
1695-1696 (AAS)

45 leaves.

Reel 2
1696 (AAS)

43 leaves.

Reel 2
1697 (AAS)

38 leaves.

Reel 2
1698 (AAS)

44 leaves.

Reel 2
1702 (AAS)

25 leaves.

Reel 2
1704 (AAS)

34 leaves.

Reel 2
1704 (AAS)

24 leaves.

Reel 2
1717 (AAS)

28 leaves.

Reel 2
n.d. (AAS)

22 leaves.

III. Correspondence, 1664-1712

Arranged chronologically.

This series consists of individual letters written to or by Increase Mather.

Reel 2
Letter to [?], n.d. (AAS)

4 leaves.

Reel 2
Letter from Eleazer Mather, 5 Apr. 1664 (AAS)

2 leaves.

Reel 2
Letter to Samuel Petto, 28 Mar. 1672 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter to [?], 30 July 1675 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter to John Cotton, 19 Mar. 1676 and 14 Apr. 1677 (AAS)

One leaf, typescript only.

Reel 2
Letter to John Cotton, 20 Oct. 1676 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter to John Cotton, 13 Dec. 1676 (AAS)

2 leaves, with transcript.

Reel 2
Letter to John Cotton, 21 Apr. 1677 (AAS)

One leaf.

Reel 2
Letter to John Cotton, 18 Feb. 1678 (AAS)

One leaf.

Reel 2
Letter to Thomas Gauge, 21 Nov. 1683 (AAS)

2 leaves and typescript.

Reel 2
Letter to Joseph Dudley, 15 May 1685 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter to Mrs. Davy, 26 Nov. 1686 (MHS)
Reel 2
Copy of letter from T. Beverly, 1690/91 (AAS)
Reel 2
Letter to John Cotton, 25 Oct. 1690 (AAS)

2 leaves.

Reel 2
Copy of letter to William Stoughton, 6 Jan. 1696/97 (MHS)
Reel 2
Copy of letter to William Stoughton, 7 Jan. 1696/97 MHS)
Reel 2
Copy of letter, with Cotton Mather, to the First Church of Charlestown, 2 July 1698 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter to Samuel Penhallow, 3 Mar. 1698/99 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter to [?], 4 Sep. 1699 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter, with James Allen, to Benjamin Colman, 28 Dec. 1699 (MHS)
Reel 2
Photocopy and typescript of letter to Abraham Williams, 15 Sep. 1702 (AAS)

Note: Original at Marlborough Public Library.

Reel 2
Letter to Joseph Dudley, 13 Oct. 1704 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter to Samuel Penhallow, 4 Dec. 1704 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter to Samuel Penhallow, 14 Oct. 1706 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter to John Leverett, 6 Nov. 1710 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter to [?], 20 Dec. 1710 (MHS)
Reel 2
Letter to Samuel Penhallow, 10 May 1712 (MHS)

IV. Writings, 1663-ca. 1715

This series consists of manuscripts of the writings of Increase Mather. The manuscripts, for the most part, are in chronological order, but the format of some items and the presence of copies and typescripts has resulted in some variation of strict chronological order.

Reel 2
"An Apologetical Preface to the Reader," 1663 (AAS)

8 leaves.

Reel 2
["The Power of Civil Magistrates"?], ca. 1665 (AAS)

Fragment, 4 leaves.

Reel 2
"The Mystery of Israel's Salvation," [1669] (MHS)

12, [4], 88, [1], 100-104, [2] p.

Reel 2
"The Substance of Several Sermons tending to Vindicate the Truth Against...H[abbakuk] G[lover]," together with "An Answer unto the Arguments...opposing and denying the Meritorious Obedience of Christ," 1675 (AAS)

26 leaves.

Reel 2
Unidentified manuscript fragments, n.d. (AAS)

3 leaves.

Reel 2
"Awakening and Soul-Saving Truths, Playnly Delivered in Sundry Sermons," [1672] (MHS)

Includes texts of 7 sermons. [1], 11, 45, [1], 46-60, [1], 61-132 p.

Reel 2
"What are the Evils that have provoked the Lord to bring his Judgments on New England?" 1679 (AAS)

[Question 1; Synod of 1679]. 9 leaves.

Reel 2
"What is to be done that so [sic] those Evils may be Reformed?" 1679 (AAS)

[Question 2; Synod of 1679]. 8 leaves.

Reel 2
"An Answer to Mr. Stoddard's 9 Arguments against Examinations concerning a Work of Grace before Admission to the Lord's Supper," 26 Feb. 1680 (AAS)

10 leaves.

Reel 2
Copy of "An Answer to Mr. Stoddard's 9 Arguments against Examinations concerning a Work of Grace before Admission to the Lord's Supper," 26 Feb. 1680
Reel 2
["An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences"], [1684] (MHS)

Three fragments: Chapter I (draft in the hand of Mather) [2], 11-12, [2], 13-17 p.; Chapter X (draft in the hand of Mather) 5 p. on 4 leaves; Chapter I (fair copy in another hand with annotations by Mather) 11, [1] p.

Reel 2
"A discourse concerning the glorious state of the church on earth under the New Jerusalem...," [1685-1700?] (AAS)

37 leaves and a photostat.

Reel 2
"A Testimony against several profane and superstitious Customs now Practised in New England," 1687 (AAS)

15 leaves.

Reel 2
["A Dissertation Concerning the Future Conversion of the Jewish Nation"], [1695-1696] (MHS)

[2], 66 p.

Reel 2
Draft of address to the Massachusetts General Court, Sep. ca. 1696 (MHS)
Reel 2
["To the Reader"], draft of the preface to Meditations on Death, [1707] (MHS)
Reel 2
["Preface"], draft of the preface to An Answer to Two Questions, by Richard Mather, 15 Jan. 1711/12 (MHS)
Reel 2
"A discourse concerning the glorious state of the church on earth under the New Jerusalem...," [1685-1700?] (AAS)

Typescript edited by Mason I. Lowance and David Watters.

Reel 3
"Observations during my Voyage to England in the year 1688," 1688-1694 (AAS)

11 leaves.

Reel 3
"Autobiography," ca. 1715 (AAS)

Edited by Michael G. Hall. 32 leaves.

Reel 3
"Autobiography," ca. 1715 (AAS)

Transcript by Abijah P. Marvin, 1881. 218 p.

V. Miscellany, 1678-1709

Arranged chronologically.

This series consists of a wide variety of material written by Increase Mather, including documents, memoranda, lists, certificates, and petitions.

Reel 3
Family record from Mather family bible, n.d. (MHS)
Reel 3
Church membership certificate, 11 May 1678 (MHS)
Reel 3
List of Harvard College Library books, ca. 1682 (MHS)
Reel 3
Memorandum on verso of letter dated 13 Dec. 1678 (MHS)
Reel 3
Memorandum on second leaf of fair copy of draft of "Matters objected [Against] Sir Edmund Andros," 17 Apr. 1690 (MHS)
Reel 3
Draft of Harvard charter, ca. 1696 (MHS)
Reel 3
Copy of petition to the Massachusetts General Court, 10 June 1709 (MHS)

VI. Sermons and sermon notes, 1667-1721

This series consists of manuscripts of sermons and sermon fragments. Notes for sermons attributed to Increase Mather, ca. 1670, have been filed at the end of the series.

Reel 3
Sermon fragments, n.d., 1675 (AAS)

4 leaves.

Reel 3
Sermons, 1675 (AAS)

3 sermons on 10 leaves, including one mutilated leaf.

Reel 3
Sermon preached at North meeting-house, Boston, 28 Nov. 1680 (AAS)

12 leaves.

Reel 3
Ordination sermon preached in Cambridge, Mass., [by Increase Mather?], 9 Oct. 1717 (AAS)

5 leaves.

Reel 3
Sermons, 1667-1668/69 (AAS)

10 sermons on 26 leaves; missing pages 1-14.

Reel 3
Sermons, 1668 (AAS)

10 sermons on 48 leaves.

Reel 3
Sermons, 1672 (AAS)

20 sermons on 54 leaves.

Reel 3
Sermons, 1675-1676 (AAS)

12 sermons on 46 leaves, including one mutilated leaf.

Reel 3
Sermons, 1675-1677 (AAS)

10 sermons on 24 leaves; missing pages 1-20, 45-76.

Reel 3
Sermons, 1682-1685 (AAS)

19 sermons on 56 leaves.

Reel 3
Sermons, 1685-1686 (AAS)

29 sermons on 70 leaves.

Reel 3
Sermons, 1695-1696/97 (AAS)

28 sermons on 81 leaves; missing pages 55-62.

Reel 4
Sermons, 1697-1698 (AAS)

20 sermons on 47 leaves; missing pages 181-204.

Reel 4
Sermons, 1700-1702 (AAS)

37 sermons on 74 leaves; missing pages 77-84.

Reel 4
Sermons, 1704-1705 (AAS)

35 sermons on 77 leaves.

Reel 4
Sermons, 1705-1721 (AAS)

22 sermons on 43 leaves; missing pages 1-2; stopping on page 89.

Reel 4
Sermons, 1713-1718 (AAS)

27 sermons on 47 leaves.

Reel 4
Sermons, 1713-1719 (AAS)

22 sermons on 45 leaves.

Reel 4
Sermon notes [by Increase Mather?] and extracts of sermons [delivered in England?], 1670 (AAS)

110 leaves, including one mutilated leaf.

Reel 4
Sermon notes [by Increase Mather?], ca. 1670 (AAS)

153 leaves.

Preferred Citation

Microfilm edition of the Increase Mather papers, a joint publication of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.

Persons:

Andros, Edmund, Sir, 1637-1714.

Organizations:

First Church (Boston, Mass.).
Third Church (Boston, Mass.).

Subjects:

Clergy--Diaries.
Congregational churches--Clergy.
Diaries--1675.
Diaries--1676.
Indians of North America--New England.
Indians of North America--Virginia.
Jews--Conversion to Christianity.
Medicine--Formulae, receipts, prescriptions.
Religious thought--New England.
Smallpox.