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William Buell Sprague papers


Identifier: 1928-23-0

Scope and Contents

Papers related to William Buell Sprague (1795-1876), clergyman and autograph collector. He was born in Andover, Conn, a son of Benjamin Sprague and Sybil Buell. William Sprague's great grand uncle, John Buell, was one of the original proprietors of Litchfield. After graduation from Yale in 1815, Sprague was a private tutor, studied two years at Princeton theological seminary. In 1819, he was ordained pastor of the First Congregational Church in West Springfield, Mass., remaining there until 1829, when he was installed as pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Albany, N.Y. He held this charge until 1869, when he resigned and moved to Flushing, N.Y. In 1828 and 1836 he visited Europe. He received the degrees of A.M. from Yale in 1819; S.T.D. from Columbia in 1828, and Harvard in 1848; and LL.D. from Princeton in 1869. Sprague was an enthusiastic collector of religious pamphlets and autographs. He gave his autographs, numbering nearly 100,000, to his son. Sprague was the author of more than 100 published sermons, memoirs, addresses, and essays, and wrote many introductions to books. His principal work was “Annals of the American Pulpit.” Among the papers are letters of recommendation from noted European ministers William Wilberforce and Caesar Malan. The papers also include documents related to Massachusetts educator and politician Edward Everett, including a revised version of Evertt's 1856 discourse, "The Uses of Astonomy." Only one item relates to Sprague's autograph collection: an album containing the signatures of all United States Senators in 1841.


  • created: 1796-1867
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/11/1929


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.


0.50 boxes

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged alphabetically in one series.

Source of Acquisition

William Buell Sprague (grandson of William Buell Sprague)

Method of Acquisition


Existence and Location of Originals

multi-part note content

Related Materials

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Other Descriptive Information

This collection was processed with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

William Buell Sprague papers
Leith Johnson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Litchfield Historical Society Repository

7 South Street
P.O. Box 385
Litchfield CT 06759
860-567-3565 (Fax)