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Guide to the William King Journal

MSN/EA 8007-01-B


Collection Summary

Title: William King journal
Dates: 1831-1842
Collection No.: MSN/EA 8007-01-B
Creator: King, William, 1812-1881
Extent: 1 volume
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A manuscript journal and book of verse kept by a young Ohio evangelical named William King, from 1831 to 1842.

Selected Search Terms

King, William, 1812-1881
Methodist Church -- United States -- History -- 19th century
Methodism -- History -- 19th century

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: William King Journal, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The King journal was purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2009. Finding aid 2009, by George Rugg.

Biographical Note

William King (1812-1881) was born in Franklin County, Ohio, the son of Samuel King (1777-1846) and Martha McIlvain (1782-1846). In 1831, at Columbus, Ohio, he married Mary Ann Eastwood (1815-1896). Most of what is known of King derives from the journal here described, and relates to his evangelical work as a Methodist "exhorter" in Franklin County in the late 1830s and early 1840s. Exhorters were laypersons licensed by a minister to deliver what were in effect mini-sermons; most of King's exhortations were delivered to "congregations" in homes or schoolhouses. King received his license on 30 November 1838, and was active exhorting for at least 3 1/2 years. He also authored verse expressive of his evangelical beliefs, on themes of sin, death, and salvation, One of these compositions, dated 2 November 1831, mentions that he himself "walked this road [of sin] for Eighteen years", suggesting that his own conversion occcurred in 1830-31.

Scope and Content Note

The King journal is a single volume (19 cm.) half-bound in calf, bearing the stationers label of D. J. Turnbull, Cincinnati. It contains 71 leaves, with around 130 pages of manuscript in King's hand. The first leaf of the volume bears the inscription "William King / Franklin Co. Ohio / March 27 1835". The journal contains two primary types of material. The first half of the book (69 pages) is filled with some 38 verse compositions, most of them explicitly identified as having been authored by King. Some are plainly lyrics for hymns; a few take the form of acrostics. Those that are dated were mostly written in 1831-32, in what was presumably the immediate aftermath of King's conversion. The content of the verse is of no great complexity, the prevailing theme being the need for sinners to come to Christ. The second part of the book consists of journal entries, beginning on 8 February 1838 (and "a determination on my part to go forward and do my duty in the fear and for the alone Glory of God"). The entries extend into 1842, occupying a total of 58 pages. Entries are almost exclusively dedicated to the author's exhortations; typical content includes the date, place and scriptural premise of his "appearance"; the extent to which the spirit moved him, and his auditors' response.

Container List

  • Diary. William King, 1831 to 1842. (MSN/EA 8007-01-B).