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Bishop John Fletcher Hurst Papers

VOLUME: 29.5 linear feet

ACCESS: This collection is open to the public upon request. 

COPYRIGHT: Please consult the archivist for information about duplication or publishing of any materials from this collection.

RELATED COLLECTIONS: American University Early History Files

Biographical Note

John Fletcher Hurst was born on August 17, 1834 to Elijah and Ann Catherine Colston Hurst in Dorchester County, Maryland. Hurst attended a local school, and then entered a college preparatory school in Cambridge, Maryland. He enrolled at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1850. While attending Dickinson College, Hurst began writing for various religious magazines. After graduation in 1854, he accepted a teaching position in Greensboro, Maryland for a few months before moving to the Hedding Literary Institute in Ashland, New York. Hurst spent the summer of 1856 studying German in Carlisle, and then traveled to Germany where he enrolled as a theology student at the University of Halle and Heidelberg. He took advantage of being in Germany to travel throughout Europe. Hurst returned to America in 1857, and began preaching in 1858 on the Carlisle Circuit.

In 1859, he joined the Newark Conference at its first session and was assigned to Irvington, New Jersey. Later in 1859, he married Catherine Elizabeth La Monte of Charlottesville, New York with whom he eventually had five children. Hurst was ordained deacon in 1860 and promoted to elder in 1862. In 1866, he accepted a professorship of theology at the Methodist Mission Institute in Bremen, Germany ultimately becoming director of the Institute. Hurst also served as professor of the Historical Theology at Drew Seminary in Madison, New Jersey starting in 1871.

Hurst was ordained Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1880. Bishop Hurst spent time attending and organizing conferences in the United States, Europe, and India. In 1888, Hurst chose Washington, D.C. as his Episcopal home. Around the time his assignment began in Washington, D.C., Bishop Hurst began to push the idea for a graduate Methodist University. In 1891, Hurst became Chancellor and the University was incorporated in Washington, D.C. In 1893, American University was established by act of Congress. Hurst died in his home in Bethesda, Maryland on May 4, 1903.

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents the life and religious ministry of Bishop John Fletcher Hurst through articles (1873-1902), correspondence (1863-1903), diaries (1852-1897), journals (1849-1902), manuscripts (1864-1900), photographs, scrapbooks (1857-1899) and sermons (1860-1891). The correspondence includes letters about the founding and early administration of American University. Hurst collected newspaper clippings and manuscripts by others on topics such as bible history, religion, theology and John Wesley. Of note are manuscripts and research notes for Hurst’s books on Bible history (1873), the history of the Christian Church (1893), and the history of Methodism (1902).


The Hurst Papers were accessioned into the University Archives in 1958 though the collection came to American University after Hurst’s death.

Processing Note

American University Registrar, Albert Osborne, arranged the John Fletcher Hurst papers into numbered series after Hurst’s death. The archivist reorganized the collection into six series. Folder contents were transferred to archival folders and the original folder titles were retained whenever possible. The archivist placed undated folder materials at the end of each file. All paper clips and staples were replaced with plastiklips. Duplicate documents were discarded. Newspaper clippings were unfolded and flattened.

Series Descriptions and Box & Folder Listing

Series 1: Correspondence (1863-1903)
7.5 linear feet

This series consists of correspondence relating to Hurst’s studies at Dickinson College and his theological studies in Germany as well as the founding and early administration of American University. It also documents his time as Bishop in Washington, D.C. Included are letters of support and correspondence with other Methodist clergyman and several congressmen. There is also correspondence discussing his book collection. This series was arranged chronologically.

Box 1

  • Correspondence, 1863-1893 [13 folders]

Box 2

  • Correspondence, 1893-1896 [10 folders]

Box 3

  • Correspondence, 1896-1898 [13 folders]

Box 4

  • Correspondence, 1898-1900 [13 folders]

Box 5

  • Correspondence, 1900-(n.d) [8 folders]
  • Letters Written and Received, 1868-1872


Series 2: Hurst Writings (1850-1902)
6.5 linear feet

This series contains addresses (1850-1900), articles (1873-1902), lectures (1854-1878), manuscripts (1864-1900), sermons (1860-1891), and stories. His writings include several important studies on theology, as well as accounts of his travels, particularly in India. Hurst sent letters to The Methodist about his visits abroad and the activities that took place during his stay in Egypt and Greece while preaching about the church. Hurst’s manuscripts are in various formats including handwritten, typewritten and drafts. This series was arranged alphabetically by document type and then by subject or chronologically.

Box 6

Addresses, 1850-(n.d.) [9 folders]
Articles, 1880
        Cotton Mather
        Pines and Pyramids [4 folders]
Articles for the Press-General Themes (by title)
         C [2 folders]
         H [2 folders]
         L [2 folders]
         S [2 folders]

Box 7

Articles for the Press related to Countries in
         Europe [3 folders]
         United States [2 folders]
Lectures, 1854-(n.d.) [5 folders]
Letters to The Methodist
         Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany
         Norway & Sweden
         Port Said, Egypt
         Turkey & Greece
         Authorship-Some Secrets of its Fertility
         Bucharest and the Romanians (Fragment)
         Christ and the Age (Fragment)
         Dickenson College 1851-1854
         Faith, The Universal Victor (Fragment)
         Fragments (Untitled)
         Goethe & Bettine von Arnim
         The Historical Disguises of Skepticism
         History of the Christian Church
         How England Became a Protestant Nation
         India [5 folders]

Box 8

Manuscripts (continued)
         Mexico [4 folders]
         The New Hearthstone: A Bridal Greeting
         The New Home
         New Spain (Fragment)
         Steffensweg Stories [32 folders]
         Teutonic and Anglo-Saxon Scholarship
         Translation of Franz Delitsch
         Travels [2 folders]
         The Valley of the Trees
Published Writings


Box 9

Sermons See Also: Series VII – Common-place Book
         Acts [2 folders]
         2 Chronicles
         1 Corinthians
         2 Corinthians
         Galatians [2 folders]
         Hebrews [2 folders]
         Isaiah [2 folders]
         John [7 folders]
         1 John
         1 Kings
         2 Kings
         Luke [3 folders]
         Matthew [4 folders]
         1 Peter
         2 Peter
         Psalms [2 folders]

Box 10

Sermons (continued)
         Romans [2 folders]
         1 Samuel
         2 Samuel
         1 Timothy
         2 Timothy
         1 Thessalonians
         2 Thessalonians


Series 3: Clippings (1870-1900)
1.5 linear feet

This series contains newspaper articles and illustrations collected by John Fletcher Hurst on a variety of topics including articles written by Hurst. The clippings relate to topics such as church history, the Methodist church and theology. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Box 10 (continued)

         A [2 folders]
         B [7 folders]
         Chu [5 folders]
         I (including illustrations) [2 folders]
         L [4 folders]

Box 11

Clippings (continued)
         Me [4 folders]
         Mi [2 folders]
         Pri [2 folders]
         R [3 folders]
         The [2 folders]
         W [5 folders]
         We [2 folders]


Series 4: Writings by Others (1776, 1852-1870)
1 linear foot

This series contains manuscripts not written by Hurst relating to topics such as Christianity, Eastern Orthodox churches, Methodism, the Old Testament, and religion. This series is arranged alphabetically by author’s last name.

Box 11 (continued)

Writings by Others
         Alexander, Gross
         Barth, D.C.G
         Beza, Theodore
         Bunsen, Emma [2 folders]
         Halthaus, Ernst
         Hoffman, Franz
         Keil, George
         Koch, Rosalie
         Nieritz, Gustav
         Philistone, Philip
         Pichler, Louise
         Roidiger, Prof.-Halle 1856
         Schoppe, A & Feige, E.

Box 12

Writings by Others (continued)
         Schubert, H. H. von
         Story, A. J. [6 folders]
         Trench, Richard
         Walther, J.L.G [2 folders]
         Wurdig, L.
         Zell, Catharina
         Ziehen, Edward
         Authors Unknown, 1776, n.d. [6 folders]


Series 5: Church History (1763-1898)
8.75 linear feet

This series contains manuscripts, outlines and research notes for Hurst’s publications on church history including Bible history (1873), history of the Christian Church (1893), and history of Methodism (1902). This series was organized into five sub series: Methodism, American Church History, Bible History, and The History of the Christian Church I and II. In some instances, there are multiple handwritten, typewritten, drafts and final versions of the same manuscript. The sub series were arranged alphabetically by subject and then chronologically.

Box 12 (continued)

         American Methodism
                  Before 1808
                  Annual Reports 1896-1898
                  Historical Accounts of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South [18 folders]

Box 13

Methodism (continued)
          American Methodism (continued)
                  Joy’s Materials Chapters II-VI
                  Notes and Headings-Outlines and Chapter Headings [3 folders]
          British Methodism
                  Beginning of Methodism: Its Genius and Peculiarities
                  Environment of Original Methodism
                  The Holy Club
                  Mission to Georgia
                  Mudge’s Manuscripts Chapters I-XXIV [14 folders]
                  Notes and Headings-Outlines and Chapter Headings [2 folders]
                  Porter’s Manuscripts Chapters I, XV-37 [10 folders]
                  Primitive Methodist Connexion
                  Principal Oxford Methodists
                  Revised typewriter Chapters VI-XIII
                  Special Quotations

Box 14

Methodism (continued)
         History of Methodism
                  Autograph Changes and Drafts [2 folders]
                  Page Proofs [2 folders]
                  Plans for collaboration in writings-preliminary announcement?
          John Wesley
                  Admission to Oxford [2 folders]
                  Bibliography and Exhibits
                  Early Childhood
                  Home School/Charterhouse
                  Oxford and the University
                  Wesleyan Genealogies
          Johnston Material on Further Methodism
                  Africa [4 folders]
                  Australia [2 folders]
                  Canada [5 folders]
                  China [5 folders]
                  New Zealand
                  South Seas [2 folders]
                  West Indies
         Worldwide Methodism
                  Africa [2 folders]
                  China [2 folders]
                  India [2 folders]
                  Mudge material: Foreign Missions
                  New Zealand

Box 15

Methodism (continued)
          Worldwide Methodism (continued)
                  Northern Europe: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Russia
                  Notes and Headings-Outlines and Chapter Headings
                  South America
                  South Seas
                  West Indies
American Church History, N.D.
         Ansan Titus (not used) [6 folders]
Analysis of Church History for the Middle & Senior Classes of the Drew Theological Seminar
Bible History
         The Divinity of Jesus Christ
         Faith in Immortality and Hope for a Resurrection
         The Miracles of Jesus Christ
         The Perfect Holiness of Jesus Christ
         The Reign of the Herods, and the relation of the Second Temple to Manual Labor
         The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
         The Sanctuary of the Old Testament
         The Supernatural
History of the Christian Church I
         Contents, Chapter Headings and Outlines
         Drafts of 11 Chapters [4 folders]
         Introduction [2 folders]
         Outline Corrections
                  Corrections (proofread by Charles C. Starbuck)
                  Corrections with correspondence
                  Draft outlines
         Preface, title page and the science & literature of church history [2 folders]
         The First Period. Apostolic Age. AD1-101 Chapters I-IX [8 folders]
         The Second Period. The Patristic Age. AD101-313 Chapters I-IV [3 folders]

Box 16

History of the Christian Church I (continued)
         The Second Period. The Patristic Age. AD101-313 Chapters V-XX [11 folders]
         The Third Period. The Controversial Age. AD313-680 Chapters I-IX [3 folders]
History of the Christian Church II
         The American Church Chapters I-V
         Church History of the Middle Ages. AD768-1517 Chapters I-LVIII [14 folders]
         Drafts of 11 Chapters [3 folders]
         Draft Outlines/Corrections
         Great Britain Chapters I-IX [2 folders]
         Heralds of the Better Church Chapters I-XI [3 folders]

Box 17

History of the Christian Church II (continued)
         The Intermediate Period. Continental Europe Chapters I-XIII [5 folders]
         The Modern Period. On the Continent Chapters I-XVII [5 folders]
         Notes/Headings-Outlines/Chapter Headings-Drafts/Background Data [4 folders]
         On the British Isle Chapters I-XIV [3 folders]
         On the Continent Chapters I-XXXVIII [7 folders]
         Plate Proof Corrections by F.A. Faulkner
         Post Reformation England Chapters II, XV, XVI-XXV [4 folders]
         Table of Contents and Index, Vol’s I and II [2 folders]
Short History of the Church in the United States I-The Colonial Period 1492-1783
         Chapters I-XV [3 folders]
Short History of the Church in the United States II-The National Period 1783-1890
         Chapters I-XX [3 folders]
Short History of the Medieval Church AD 750-1517-Chapters I-Unnumbered [5 folders]

Box 18

Short History of the Modern Church AD1558-1888-Chapters I-XXIV [4 folders]


Series 6: Personal and Subject File (1849-1902)
4.25 linear feet

This series contains diaries (1852-1897), scrapbooks (1857-1899), bill & receipts (1857-1902), photographs and quotes. This series also includes notes on the Epworth League, the Methodist Episcopal Church, Norwegian literature (1884), George Washington’s Library, and Hurst’s travels. This series is arranged alphabetically by document type and/or subject.

Box 18 (continued)

Aphoristic Sayings
Bills & Receipts, 1857-(n.d.) [5 folders]
Common-place Book - [List of Sermons Preached], 1857-1888
         See Also: Series II: Sermons
Common-place Book - [Selected Quotes], 1857-1860
Diaries, 1852-(n.d.) [9 folders]
Dickinson College Catalog, 1840
Drew Theological Seminary
Epworth League
George Washington’s Library
Hans Nielsen Hauge
Hurst, John F.
         Biographical File
         Library Catalogue (1 volume)

Box 19

Hurst, John F. (continued)
         Library Catalogue (1 volume)
         Memoranda of Cost and Values of Books, Manuscripts, etc. [12 folders]
Index Rerum, 1854-1875 [2 folders]
         1849-1884 [13 folders]

Box 20

Journals (continued)
         1884-1888, (n.d.) [4 folders]
         Church History [3 folders]
         Theology 1863-(n.d.) [4 folders]
Methodist Episcopal Church
Norwegian Literature, 1884
Passport (Berlin) 1871
Pauline von Montagu
Pennsylvania Gazette 1736-1785
         Bethesda Orphan House, 1888
         Wisby- Gothland
Samaritans [2 folders]
Scrapbooks 1857-1866 [2 folders]

Box 21

Scrapbooks 1865-1899, (n.d.) [6 folders]
Sparks from Old Anvils (Greek Sayings) [5 folders]
Sparks from Old Anvils (Roman Sayings) [4 folders]
Washington, D.C.