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Guide to the John and Sarah McMahon Journals.

MSN/MN 8006


Collection Summary

Title: John and Sarah McMahon journals
Dates: 1865-1897
Collection No.: MSN/MN 8006
Creator: McMahon, John T. (John Todd), 1843-1896
Creator: McMahon, Sarah Douglas, ca. 1850-1915
Extent: 1 container and 1 bound volume; .5 linear feet
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 group of seven manuscript volumes, mostly personal journals, kept by Methodist Episcopal clergyman John T. McMahon and his wife Sarah Douglas McMahon. Much of the content dates from the couple's years working at the Church's North India Mission, 1871-1897.

Selected Search Terms

Methodist Episcopal Church -- Missions
Missions -- India -- History -- 19th century
Christianity -- History -- India
Livingston County (N.Y.) -- History

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection

Preferred Citation: John and Sarah McMahon Journals, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The McMahon journals were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2010, from Xerxes Books of Glen Cove, New York. Arranged and described 2013, by Kathleen Monahan. Finding aid 2013, by Kathleen Monahan and George Rugg.

Biographical Note

John Todd McMahon was born in Columbia, Maine on 5 May 1843; when very young his family moved west to Lima, Livingston Co., New York, where John was raised. His father, Isaiah McMahon, was an immigrant from Ireland and a Methodist Episcopal clergyman. In September 1862 McMahon was mustered in to Co. E, 136th New York Infantry, with whom he served until June 1865, rising to 1st sergeant. After the war McMahon attended Genesee College at Lima, and in 1870 was ordained into the Methodist Episcopal ministry. On 22 August 1870 McMahon married Sarah Eliza Douglas, with whom he entered the Church's India Mission, established in the 1850s in the British North Western Provinces and Oudh. In November 1870 the McMahons arrived in India and travelled to the missionary station at Roy Bareilly in Oudh (now Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh state), where there was a girls' orphanage, a hospital, and a theological school. McMahon would remain with the India Mission (renamed the North India Mission in 1877) for most of the next 26 years, first at Roy Bareilly (1871-1880) and later at Pauri in the Mission's Kumaon District (now in Uttarakhand state). By 1889 he was responsible for the stations in tha Pauri Circuit and travelled regularly to other stations in the district (Naini Tal, Dwarahat, Kainoor, Pithoragarh). McMahon died in Dwarahat on 5 July 1896. Sarah McMahon remained in India until January 1897 when she and her five sons returned to America and settled in Middlesex, Connecticut. She died on 22 February 1915, in Little Falls, New Jersey.

Scope and Content Note

The collection includes four volumes of John T. McMahon's personal journals. These cover: 1) McMahon's years as a student at the Genesee Lyceum in Lima, New York (1865-1867); 2) McMahon's years as a student at Genesee College in Lima, his graduation and marriage, and three early years with the India Mission (1867-1870, 1871-1874); 3) a three-year stretch in which McMahon visited Europe and the United States, before returning to India (1883-1887), and 4) six later years in India (1887-1893). Many of the India entries in the second of these volumes were written by McMahon's wife Sarah (who was an active partner in her husband's missionary work, especially among girls and women). There are also two volumes with journal entries exclusively by Sarah, and a volume of John McMahon's personal accounts. The dated entries in the McMahon journals vary greatly in length, from short observations to commentaries of many hundreds of words. Entries made in India tend to be more substantial and more sporadic than those made in America. John McMahon's India journals touch on all aspects of the Mission, evangelical, educational, and medical, and have much to say on the beliefs, customs, and languages of the peoples of north India, as well as the region's climate, geography, and natural history.

Arrangement Note

The collection's seven volumes are arranged first, followed by folders containing loose enclosures found in the volumes.

Related Material

McMahon's Civil War diary was published in 1993: see John Michael Priest, ed., John T. McMahon's Diary of the 136th New York 1861-1864, Shippensburg PA: White Mane Publishing Co., 1993.

Container List

  • Journal. John T. McMahon, 1865 July 9 to 1867 July 9. Folder 1 (MSN/MN 8006-1).
    AMsS. 1 vol., 32 cm., 34 leaves, with 66 pages of manuscript in McMahon's hand; 3 items tipped in.
    Titled in manuscript "John T. McMahon's Journal," with "End of Vol. 1" on final page (p. 395). Pages numbered 328 to 395; it seems likely that McMahon regarded the present volume as a continuation of a journal kept during the Civil War. Entries cover McMahon's time at the Genesee Lyceum, prior to his entering Genesee College.
    • Journal. John T. McMahon and Sarah McMahon, 1867 August 8 to 1870 September 13; 1871 October 20 to 1874 October 28. Folder 2 (MSN/MN 8006-2).
      AMsS. 1 vol., 31 cm., 93 leaves, with 185 pages of manuscript entries; 3 enclosures (see folder 8006-8), 4 items tipped in, and 4 items bound in.
      Titled in manuscript "John T. McMahon's Journal." Entries up to 13 September 1870 (written in New York) constitute Vol. 2, Part 1; entries from 20 October 1871 (written in India) constitute Vol. 2, Part 3. Part 2—presumably a travel diary covering the McMahons' journey to India and arrival at Roy Bareilly—is not present. Covers McMahon's years at Genesee College and John and Sarah's early years in India. Many of the entries, beginning 18 November 1871, are in Sarah's hand and written from her perspective.
      • Journal. John T. McMahon, 1883 Dec 24 to 1887 Feb 16. Folder 3 (MSN/MN 8006-3).
        AMsS. 1 vol., 32 cm., 115 leaves, with 230 pages of manuscript in McMahon's hand; 2 enclosures (see folder 8006-9) and 2 items tipped in.
        Titled in manuscript "Journal of J. T. McMahon Volume VI." Pages numbered 1 to 229. Roughly half the journal describes a journey back to the United States in 1884-1885; the remainder treats missionary work in India.
        • Journal. John T. McMahon, 1887 Feb 16 to 1893 Jul 18. Item 4 (MSN/MN 8006-4-B).
          AMs. 1 vol., 33 cm., 303 leaves, with 603 pages of manuscript in McMahon's hand; 6 enclosures (see folder 8006-10) and 14 items tipped in.
          This book bears no volume number but it may be assumed to be volume 7 of McMahon's journals, since its content and pagination are continuous with volume 6. Pages numbered 230 to 606. In addition to its dated journal entries the book contains accounts and other mission-related records, as well as retained copies of letters. All entries written in India.
          • Journal. Sarah McMahon, 1873 Jan 5 to 1897 Feb 21. Folder 5 (MSN/MN 8006-5).
            AMsS. 1 vol., 32 cm., 91 leaves, with 62 pages of manuscript entries in Sarah McMahon's hand; 8 enclosures (see folder 8006-11).
            Titled in manuscript "Journal of the Womans Work in Roy Bareilly, Oudh, India." The manuscript contains 59 pages of long but sporadic journal entries by Sarah McMahon running from January 1873 to February 1897, after John's death.
            • Account book. John T. McMahon, 1875-1896. Folder 6 (MSN/MN 8006-6).
              AMsS. 1 vol., 22 cm., 29 leaves, with 50 pages of manuscript entries in McMahon's hand.
              Mostly given over to McMahon's personal finances, 1884-1896. Also includes assorted Sunday School receipts and disbursements, 1875-1878, 1880, 1883.
              • Journal. Sarah McMahon, 1893 January. Folder 7 (MSN/MN 8006-7).
                AMsS. 1 vol., 19 cm., 28 leaves, with 12 pages of manuscript entries in Sarah McMahon's hand. 2 enclosures (see folder 8006-12).
                Contains a single long entry (Roy Bareilly, 11 January 1893) on the M. E. Mission's North India Conference.
                • Enclosures for MSN/MN 8006-2 . Folder 8 (MSN/MN 8006-8).
                  3 items.
                  • Enclosures for MSN/MN 8006-3 . Folder 9 (MSN/MN 8006-9).
                    2 items.
                    • Enclosures for MSN/MN 8006-4-B . Folder 10 (MSN/MN 8006-10).
                      4 items.
                      • Enclosures for MSN/MN 8006-5 . Folder 11 (MSN/MN 8006-11).
                        6 items.
                        • Enclosures for MSN/MN 8006-7 . Folder 12 (MSN/MN 8006-12).
                          2 items.