Inventory of the Thomas Starr King Collection
Graduate Theological Union Archives
Graduate Theological Union
2400 Ridge Road
Berkeley, California, 94709
Phone: (510) 649-2523/2501
Graduate Theological Union. All rights reserved.
Inventory of the Thomas Starr King Collection
Collection number: GTU 93-5-01
Graduate Theological Union Archives
Graduate Theological Union
- Processed by:
- Lucinda Glenn
- Date Completed:
- June 15, 1993
- Encoded by:
- Michael C. Conkin
- Finding aid revised:
- October 28, 1993; April 19, 1994; June 29, 1994; September 6, 1994; March 26, 1996; May 3, 1996; April 2, 1997.
- Encoding revised:
- December 7, 2009
- Revisions included:
- Updates to improve display on 2009 OAC format and to add links to digital objects.
© 2009 Graduate Theological Union. All rights reserved.
Title: Thomas Starr King collection,
Collection number: GTU 93-5-01
King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864
Wendte, Charles William, 1844-1931
2.5 linear feet (7 boxes and 4 folios).
Digital materials : 1 scrapbook (3 parts), 1 book, and 6 photographs
The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
Abstract: Thomas Starr King (1824 - 1864) was a Unitarian and Universalist minister and popular lecturer. Son of a Universalist minister
who served in New York and Massachusetts, he also served churches in the Boston area. He accepted a call to San Francisco
in 1860 to serve the Unitarian Church. With the start of the Civil War, he lectured and campaigned successfully throughout
the state to keep California in the Union and raised substantial funding for the Sanitary Commission. His was one of two statues
from the State of California in the Capital Building, Washington, D.C., until replaced by Ronald Reagan in June 2009. The
King statue was installed in the Civil War Grove in Capitol Park, Sacramento, December 8, 2009.
Physical location: 2/C/4-5
Languages represented in the collection:
Selected digitized images from the collection: images of Thomas Starr King and wife; the 1932 record of ; and the scrapbook, Memorabilia, Thomas Starr King, C.W. Wendte, in three parts.
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to The Graduate Theological Union. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Graduate Theological Union
as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader.
Thomas Starr King collection, GTU 93-5-01. Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.
Charles Wendte, Unitarian minister in Oakland, who had known Thomas Starr King when a young man in the 1860's (See introduction
in Wendte's scrapbook, Folio 1) collected much of the material. This material was donated to the then Pacific Unitarian Seminary,
which became the Starr King School for the Ministry. Over time, other materials were added from individuals and from the San
Francisco First Unitarian Church. The collection is owned by Starr King School for the Ministry: GTU Archives is the designated
repository. Transferred May, 1993.
Charles Wendte, Unitarian minister in Oakland, who had known Thomas Starr King when a young man in the 1860's, created the
initial collection. Among his many actitivities, he worked on the committee to build the monument to TSK in Golden Gate Park,
SF, 1892; authored a book,
Thomas Starr King, Patriot and Preacher, 1921; and worked on designating TSK as one of the representatives in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall, 1927. The collection
contains materials he gathered for these projects. This material was donated to the then Pacific Unitarian Seminary, which
became the Starr King School for the Ministry.
Other materials from individuals and from the San Francisco First Unitarian Church were added to what came to be known as
the Starr King Collection. If indicated, the sources of items are identified in the container listings. Many items, particularly
the printed materials, have the name of the school and the collection, and assigned call numbers written on them. Included
in the Starr King Collection at SKSM were books, pamphlets, and other published material either original to TSK, or about
him after his death. These were not transferred with the archival collection, but are maintained in the SKSM Rare Book Room.
The majority of letters and sermons original to TSK in this collection are from his early years in Boston.
Biography / Administrative History
Thomas Starr King (1824-64) was born December 17, 1824, his parents, Thomas Farrington King, a Universalist minister, and
Susan Starr, both of New York. T.F. King was called to the Universalist Church, Charlestown, MA in 1835, serving there until
his death in September 1839. After the death of his father, Starr (as he was known in the family), had to leave school to
help support his mother and five brothers and sisters. He worked in a dry goods store, then as a teacher, becoming principal
of the West Medford Grammar School at age 18. He resigned this position to accept a clerking job in the Navy Yard were he
had a larger salary and more time for independent study. Through self study, he mastered the requirements for entrance to
He preached his first sermon at Woburn, MA, 1845, receiving a call to his father's old pulpit in Charlestown which he accepted
in 1846. The following year he began his career as a public lecturer, a career in which he became extremely popular and sought
after. In 1848, he accepted a call to the Hollis Street Unitarian Church. At the time, Universalist and Unitarian were separate
denominations. "Mr. King openly adopted the Unitarian fellowship, although his relations with his Universalist associates
continued to be of the warmest and most friendly character." Starr and Julia M. Wiggin were married, December 17, 1848 shortly
after his installation. They had two children: Edith and Frederick.
In 1859 King received several invitations from churches calling him to be their pastor. "San Francisco prevailed." Sailing
from New York in April 1860 via Panama, he found SF Unitarian "a moribund church, a depleted society, with an insufficient
income and a heavy debt." Landing on April 28 and, with no preparation or advanced notice, King preached the next day to an
overflowing crowd. "When his first year closed the debt was paid and the church was on a solid basis, the strongest Protestant
parish in the city."
With the attack on Fort Sumter in 1861 and the beginning of the war, the position of California was uncertain. Powerful interests
in California leaned toward secession, others toward declaring California an independent republic. King decided "California
must be won over at any price" and began his crusade for the Union. He lectured and preached from one end of the state to
the other "in an earnest fight against secession." He faced hostile crowds, threats of harm, even threats against his life.
In the fall election, the loyalty of the state was settled by an overwhelming majority. It was felt that "no one force had
done so much to save the State as Mr. King."
With the loyalty of California safe, King turned to other service. He entered in to the movement for the sick and wounded
soldiers fund-raising throughout the entire west coast for the Sanitary Commission. He raised a million and a half dollars
in 1862. He also began work on raising the money for and then construction of a new church building for SF Unitarian. "At
last, his overtaxed powers gave way." The new church, in which he preached seven Sundays, was completed and dedicated in January
1864. He contracted diphtheria, then after a second bout of pneumonia, died on March 4, 1864.
The city of San Francisco, and the entire state, went into mourning. "One wild, wild wave of excitement rolled over this city
when the flag, at half-mast, and rumor from ear to ear announced the departure of a mighty spirit. From the gilded saloon
to the Christian parlor --wherever he was hated most or loved best, men stopped to pause and ponder, and to simply say, with
more than eloquence: 'Starr King is dead!'" (G.G.F., Alta California, March 4, 1864)
This biographical sketch is taken from "Thomas Starr King", by Horace Davis, in the Pacific Unitarian, March, 1904. See Box
4, ff 18.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection includes original papers (letters and sermons), copies, printed material, photographs, scrapbook, newspaper
articles, and King's leather traveling case. The majority of letters and sermons original to TSK in this collection are from
his early years in Boston. Materials include Charles Wendte's work on the committee to build the monument to TSK in Golden
Gate Park, SF, 1892, and to designate TSK as one of the representatives in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall, 1927.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864.
Wendte, Charles William, 1844-1931.
French, Daniel Chester, 1850-1931.
King, Thomas Farrington, d. 1839.
Norris, Julia Wiggin King, d. 1904.
Unitarian Universalist Churches--California--History--Sources.
California--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
San Francisco (Calif.)--History--19th century.
Box 1, Folder 1
TSK to Randolph Ryer (friend), 1/1841-1/1851, 2/24/1861 45 letters)
Handwritten copies done in 1867 of some of the letters in ff 1 (1/1841-10/1844) by Sarah Starr (TSK's aunt)
1 letter to Sarah Edgarton from Sarah with an additional letter from TSK, 12/14/1845
1 letter TSK to Hosea, 11/10/1859
Typewritten copy of 1 letter from TSK to Sunday School, Hollis St. Society, Boston, 5/25/1860
TSK to Thomas Frazer (re: lectures in Portland and other Oregon cities), 5/1862-7/1862 (5 letters)
1 letter TSK to Mrs. Neal (re: dedication of SF church and hymn by Whittier), 1/6/63
1 letter, William Henry Channing to TSK, 11/30/48
To Susan M. King (mother from Thomas F. King (father) and others, 1837-41 (10 letters, 1 receipt)
Sermon on Hebrews 12:29 by Thomas F. King, n.d.
Condolence letters to Susan M. King on the death of TSK, 1864 (2 letters)
Empty envelopes to Mrs. S.K. Cushman (sister), 1864-65
1 letter George Starr to Sarah Starr (?), 6/14/1880
Charles F. Cushman (brother-in-law), business letters, 1 on King family genealogy, 1888-89 (4 letters); Florence Cushman (niece) to Charles Wendte, 1919 (5 letters removed from Wendte scrapbook (Folio 1) for better preservation)
Julia King Norris (wife) to Charles Wendte, 1889 (6 letters removed from Wendte scrapbook (Folio 1) for better preservation)
King family members to Charles Wendte, 1904-21 (5 letters removed from Wendte scrapbook (Folio 1) for better preservation: Frederick R. King, son; Edith King Davis, daughter;
Horace Davis, son-in-law; Ruth Wiggin, sister of Julia King Norris)
TSK, 3 letters: 12/14/1853 to Ellis Roberts; 4/8/1856 to "Dear Sir"; 9/17/1863 to Beaton (these letters are owned by the GTU Library, by purchase, 1977)
1 letter, TSK to Henry Kimball, 4/25/62 (re: Kimball's resignation as Sunday School Superintendent)
"Journal Voyage", Passage from New York to San Francisco via Panama, April 1860 (handwritten in TSK hand, appears to be a copy)
Daniel C. French to Charles Wendte, 1888, 1890 (3 letters removed from Wendte scrapbook); Moncure D. Conway to Wendte, 1890 (1 letter removed from scrapbook) re: French statue of TSK
The sermons (with the exception of "Installation of Rev. Edwin H. Chapin") were a gift of
Mrs. Harold Greene Arnold (Helen Hunt Freeman Arnold). The original gift lists 20
sermons, 3 are missing. For other printed sermons, see Box 4, ff 1-3, 6.
Box 2, Folder 1
Thanksgiving sermon, 11/25/1846
New Years sermon, 12/30/1846
Arguments for Universalism from Providence, 6/11/1847
Christianity and Creeds, 9/10/1847
The Character of Christ: A Christmas Sermon, 12/21/1847
What is Your Life, 12/26/1847
Christ and the Woman of Samaria, 1/19/1848
Installation of Rev. Edwin H. Chapin, 6/8/1848
Duties of a Christian Society, 11/25/1849
Duty of Spreading the Religion of Jesus, 4/13/1850
The Ear Rings and Aaron, 11/2/1850
Living for and Living by Religion, 1/24/1852
Things and the Doctrine of Things, 1/29/1852
The Encouragements of Christianity, 3/20/1852
The Losses and Gains of a Church, 9/16/1852
Justice Before Charity, n.d.
Sermon Case, n.d., tooled black leather and black silk, gold lettering, "T. Star (sic) King"
See also, Box 7.
Box 3, Folder 1
Letters about travel in California to the Boston Transcript from "K.", 1860 (xerox copies)
original articles from which the copies were made
envelope in which the articles were found, signed Samuel A. Eliot
full page from the "Trumpet and Magazine", 8/1838 (T.F. King listed as preaching)
Contents of the box in the cornerstone of SF Unitarian Church, 1887
San Francisco Morning Call, unveiling the Starr King monument, Golden Gate Park, 10/27/1892
Death of Julia M. (King) Norris, 1904
Oakland Tribune, "Remember When", 4/5/1934
Box 3, Folder 11
"The Christian Leader", 1-2/1929, publication of the TSK Journal, from New York to San Francisco, 1860. (letter from C.W. Wendte)
"The Christian Register", 5-6/1921, published excerpts from C.W. Wendte's book "Thomas Starr King, Patriot and Preacher"
Pamphlets (2), c. 1921, promoting the sale of "Thomas Starr King, Patriot and Preacher"
Letters and articles on TSK, gift of Stella Weston Howe, 1900, 1961. (2 letters from persons who knew TSK giving reminiscences)
SF Unitarian Church, 1 photo (c. 1865), 1 service card (first Sunday after TSK death, 1864)
Service bulletin, "Fifty Years of the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco, 1900"
"Ceremonies Dedicating the Sarcophagus of Thomas Starr King" (placing California Historical Landmark plaque #691), 4/24/1960
Box 4, Folder 1
Sermon, "Two Discourses Delivered in Hollis-Street Meeting-House, Sunday, Sept. 21, 1851." Gift of Henry L. Finch)
Sermon, "The Death of Mr. Daniel Weld", 9/19/1852
Sermon, "Services at the Installation of Caleb D. Bradlee", 12/11/1854
Sermon, "Preached in Hollis St. Church at the Close of a Ministry of Eleven years", 3/25/1860 (2 copies: second copy, gift of Henry L. Finch)
"A Scripture Catechism for Sabbath Schools", by TSK, San Francisco, CA, 1861
Tract, "The Corrupting Influence of Revivals," by TSK, n.d. (printed post-1870)
Sermon, "Spiritual Christianity", n.d. (Printed post-1876)
Box 4, Folder 7
Discourse, "The Unspotted Life: In Memory of Rev. Thomas Starr King", C.A. Bartol, Boston, 3/6/1864 (2 copies: second copy, gift of Henry L. Finch)
Address, "In Memory of their Late Pastor, Rev. Thomas Starr King", Robert B. Swain, San Francisco, 3/15/1864
Lecture, "Thomas Starr King in California", Charles Wendte, 1867
Address, "The Quickening Power of a Good and Ernest Life", Edward Galvin, 3/10/1878
Oration, "Thomas Starr King as a Patriot", at the unveiling of the TSK monument, Golden Gate Park, Irving Scott, 10/1892
Prayer, "At the Dedication and Unveiling of the TSK Monument", Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, Charles Wendte, 10/1892
Address, "The Patriotic Services of Thomas Starr King", Horace Davis, 1899
Address, "Thomas Starr King, A Memorial Address", Edward Everett Hale, 3/1/1903
Box 4, Folder 15
Unitarian Review, "The Character and Genius of TSK", 5/1878
Unitarian Review, "Reminiscences of TSK", Edward Everett Hale, 4/1888
Pamphlet, "Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Orators", Elbert Hubbard, 10/1903
Pacific Unitarian, Starr King Memorial Number, 3/1904
Pacific Unitarian, "A Letter of TSK", 10/1914
California Freemason, "California Decides", Hal Curtis, Spring 1961
"Starr King in California, a Dramatic Biography", students of SKSM, 5/1964
"Thomas Starr King in Oregon, 1862" by William G. Eliot, Jr. ,
The Oregon Historical Quarterly, June 1931 (xerox copy)
TSK Biographic Summary, Bibliography, 1996; from RAdm. Randolph W. King
Newspaper articles, 1) to TSK in California, 8/29/1861, Anonymus (Boston Transcript); 2) "A Proper Bostonian Wowed the Miners", Millie Robbins (n.d., ca. 1965)
Box 5, Folder 1
SK, unmounted reprint, n.d., 8 1/2 x 10, standing shot (damaged)
TSK, oval framed reprint, n.d., 10 x 8, head shot
Julia King (wife), Ambrotype (?) in case, c. 1860, head shot
TSK monument in Golden Gate Park, 8 x 10, full shot, c. 1892
Small portfolio of reprints of pictures used in "Thomas Starr King, Patriot and Preacher" by Charles Wendte, c. 1921:
Mt. Starr King, Yosemite, CA
Starr King Mountain, White Hills, NH
First Unitarian Church, San Francisco, c. 1865
Starr King Monument, Golden Gate Park
Starr King Domes, Yosemite, CA, c. 1963
TSK, reprint, c. 1992, 4 x 5, head shot
TSK, reprint, c. 1960, taken from an engraving in a book, head shot
Leather traveling case used by TSK on his trip to California from New York via the Isthmus of Panama, April 1860. Made by Holmes Saddler Harness Maker and Manufacturer, 25 Tremont Road, Boston. Leather, wood, brass studs, leather handle,
key for the lock, paper lined, initials "TSK". 14 x 9 x 6 in. (355 x 228 x 152 mm).
TSK newspaper articles from the Boston Transcript, 1853-1864. Compiled by Daniel Noyes Haskell (Editor, Transcript); later in the possession of Edward Everett Hale, 1909. Gift of Carolyn Freeman Westwood and Arnold Farrow Westwood.
Folio Folio 1
"Memorabilia, Thomas Starr King, 1860-1864", C.W. Wendte
Creator/Collector: From the typed introduction: "The undersigned (Charles W. Wendte), who was a resident of San Francisco during the Civil War
and had the great privilege of a personal acquaintance with Thomas Starr King and later became his biographer, has thought
it his duty to collect and put into consecutive and acceptable form the personal and historical material which he has collected
for the purpose."
Scope and Content Note
Contents include: original photographs, newspaper articles, copies of correspondence, and
correspondence concerning the career and death of TSK, 1854-1900; erection of the
monument in Golden Gate Park, 1892 (including the monument committee
Folio Folio 2
TSK, 16 x 13 oval framed engraving of a drawing, n.d., damaged (foxing), half figure in academic or preaching robe.
Folio Folio 3
Printed lecture, "Peace: What Would it Cost Us", delivered at Platt's Music Hall, San Francisco, August 29, 1861 (original: owned by the GTU Library)
Folio Folio 4
Copy of printed lecture in Folio 3