Skip to main content

Pliny Fisk journals, letters, and other materials

Identifier: C-116

Scope and Contents

The collection consists primarily of four journals and letters from Fisk to fellow missionaries, describing his journey to the Middle East, encouraging them to join him, and telling them what to expect and how to prepare, and what languages to study. The two Pliny Fisk journals dated 1821-1823 and 1823-1824, plus journal excerpts from 1820-1821, represent Fisk's experiences as a pioneering American missionary in the Middle East. The two diaries dated 1814-1816 and 1816-1820 provide an account of his time at Andover Theological Seminary, as well his journey by sea from Boston to Smyrna, and the beginning of his time in Smyrna. Also included is a typed transcript of the 1823-1824 journal. Besides Fisk's writings, the collection includes miscellaneous material about Pliny Fisk (including a printed book entitled Congregational Pilgrims in Turkey), some newspaper articles, provenance information, and a long, detailed letter from missionaries Isaac Bird and William Goodall to the American Mission Board, describing Fisk's death. Also includes provenance information and 1993 Masters Thesis by Philip D. Crossman. Journals are shelved with collection.


  • Creation: 1819-1825


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email:

Biographical / Historical

Son of Ebenezer and Sarah (Barnard) Fisk, Pliny Fisk was born in Shelburne, Massachusetts, on June 24, 1792. After preparing for College with Rev. Moses Halleck, Fisk entered Middlebury in the Fall of 1807. After graduating from Middlebury College in August 1814, Fisk studied theology with Rev. Thomas Packard of Shelburne, Vermont. He was licensed to preach by the Franklin Association of Congregational ministers in 1815 and for eight months served as pastor in Wilmington, Vermont, where he established a Sabbath school and a Ladies' and Gentlemen's Missionary Association. In the Fall of 1815, he entered Andover Theological Seminary, from which he graduated in September 1818. That same month, the Prudential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), appointed Fisk to the first Palestine Mission. In November 1818, he was ordained in the Tabernacle Church, Salem, MA. Before taking on the Palestine Mission, however, he served for a year as Agent of the ABCFM in Georgia and South Carolina. In November,1819, Fisk sailed for Palestine with his Middlebury classmate Levi Parsons. Between 1820-23, Fisk carried out his mission in Smyrna and Egypt. When his fellow missionary Levi Parsons died in early 1822, Fisk took over his mission in Egypt. After Parson's death in Alexandria, Fisk traveled to Malta, toured Egypt, Syria, and Beirut, and crossed the Sinai Desert. In 1825, on his return to Jerusalem from Beirut, Fisk was reported to have been attacked by Bedouins. He died of his injuries in 1825. He was thirty-three.


1 Box (1 box plus four journals) : Journals (1821-1824) were rebound at Middlebury College. Collection includes original boards for both volumes. Journals are shelved with collection.

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

Link to finding aid for Pliny Fisk Papers, 1821-1825 (collection contains 1824-1825 journal) at The Burke Library Archives (Columbia University Libraries):

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Middlebury journals (1821-1823, 1823-1824), the journal excerpts (1820-1821), and the letters were purchased from Edward J. Van Lennep. Van Lennep's grandfathers were R. Van Lennep (a friend of Fisk's in Smyrna), and Isaac Bird (a contemporary of Fisk's, also a missionary).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The two diaries dated December 1 1814 - March 1 1816, and July 4 1816 - May 8, 1820 were purchased in 2019 from McNaughtan's Bookshop & Gallery.

Existence and Location of Copies

Related Materials

See also: Memoir of the Rev. Pliny Fisk, late missionary to Palestine, by Alvan Bond. Boston: Crocker and Brewster, 1828, c1827.

Middlebury College Special Collections (Library 101)-College Archives. Call number: P (Fisk, P.)

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States