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Edward Everett Hale collection

Identifier: C-8

Scope and Contents

Out of 266 holograph letters, 248 are from Hale to Reed. These letters provide a glimpse of day-to-day business at the Old South Church in Boston, with tantalizing glimpses into Hale’s publishing and other business enterprises, with few follow-up details. Of note is an 1874 discourse on the history of the barbarians and the origins of the Church. His letters from 1882, when he was abroad in Europe, include an account of a meeting with the librarian of the Royal Geographical Society, who said to Hale, “Your name is not unknown to geographers.” In an 1891 letter, Hale reminisces about California and how he nearly joined the gold rush in 1849. Throughout the almost forty years of letters, one can get a sense of Hale through the many personal errands on which he sends Reed, whether for lemons at the Quincy market or cork for the cushions on one of his boats. Hale also frequently borrows cash and orders carriages to pick him up at various locations.

Additional letters are from Hale to other recipients, or written by others to Hale. Only one letter in the collection is from Reed to Hale, and it responds to Hale’s resignation from the South Congregational Church. Hale’s manuscripts include a possibly unpublished holograph poem, a holograph essay on cleaning the study, holograph sermon notes, anonymous diary entries for late 1823 not written by Hale, a pamphlet from the Ten Times One Corporation, of which Hale was president, holograph notes and a newspaper tribute to Hale on the occasion of his 70th birthday.


  • Creation: 1866 - 1902


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish materials, contact: Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email:

Biographical / Historical

Edward Everett Hale was born in Boston, Massachusetts on April 3, 1822, the son of Sarah Preston Everett and Nathan Hale (1784-1863), a journalist, proprietor, and editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser. He was also the grandnephew of another Nathan Hale, the American Revolutionary War spy and martyr who, after being captured and sentenced to death by the British, was famously supposed to have declared, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

After preparation in private school, Hale enrolled at Harvard College at the age of 13. He won several Bowdoin Prizes, and graduated second in his class in 1839, when he was 17 years old. He then taught at Boston Latin School for two years. While still in college, he worked as a part-time reporter, and soon after graduating he began his literary career by contributing to magazines. He studied theology independently and was licensed to preach in 1842. He became pastor of the Church of Unity in Worcester, Massachusetts, from 1846 to 1856, and of Boston’s South Congregational Church, from 1856 to 1899.

In 1852, Hale married the niece of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Baldwin Perkins. They had eight children. A reformer and leader of the Social Gospel movement of the latter half of the 19th century, Hale was acquainted with many literary and political figures of his day, including John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Mark Twain wrote at his death in 1909, “I had the greatest esteem and respect for Edward Everett Hale, and the greatest admiration for his work. I am as grieved to hear of his death as I can ever be to hear of the death of any friend…”

Two of Hale’s stories became famous. “My Double and How He Undid Me” (1859) combines fantasy and realism in a humorous story about a harassed minister who has a double perform some of his many tasks. “The Man Without a Country” (1863), published anonymously in The Atlantic Monthly, was written to keep Ohio in the Union, and was a well-received work of patriotism. Hale later abandoned fiction and wrote tracts on various social issues, such as slavery and public education reform.

Hale was appointed Chaplain of the United States Senate in 1903. Asked if he prayed for the senators, Hale replied, “No, I look at the senators and pray for the country.” He remained in Washington until shortly before his death on June 10, 1909.

William Howell Reed (1837-1914) was Hale’s colleague at the Old South Church. Reed was the author of Hospital Life in the Army of the Potomac (1866), Reminiscences of Elisha Atkins, (1890), The Heroic Story of the U. S. Sanitary Commission 1861-1865 (1910), and Vocabulary of German Words and Idioms (1912).


1 Box ; 0.20 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Letters to William Howell Reed from Edward Everett Hale, author, publisher, pastor and social advocate. Both men worked at the South Congregational Church, in Boston, and much of the correspondence revolves around the day-to-day activities of running the church. Hale’s social views, his literary projects and travel impressions can be gleaned from the almost 40 years worth of correspondence. The collection primarily consists of Hale’s letters to Reed, but also includes correspondence written by Hale (and others) to other recipients, one response from Reed to Hale, and holograph manuscripts written by Hale.


The collection is arranged into two series. Series I, Correspondence, is arranged chronologically. Series II, Manuscripts, is arranged by type of document.

Processing Information

Finding Aid Compiled, March 2010, by Marjorie Robbins. Finding Aid Reviewed, August 2012, by Peter Andersen ’13.

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