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Rev. Levi Ballou Papers

Identifier: MSN/EA 0502

Scope and Contents

The sermons and other personal papers of the Universalist minister Levi Ballou, who from 1843 to 1865 was settled at the First Congregational Parish and Society of Orange, Massachusetts. The papers include around 70 manuscript sermons written by Ballou, on sheets sewn into octavo-sized booklets; these average perhaps 30 pages in length, and appear to date from throughout Ballou's career. More than half are funeral sermons, including four written for members of the 36th Massachusetts Infantry killed in the Civil War. The papers also include a 224-page manuscript log kept by Ballou from 1836 until his death, in which he recorded the date, place, and scriptural premise of every sermon or lecture he delivered, often accompanied by payment received. There are also examples of various other kinds of writing, including prayers, lectures, and obituaries. Nothing Ballou wrote seems to have appeared in print; indeed, a "will and decree" dating to 1857 stipulates that "no Sermon I have, or written communication of mine, shall ever be published." There are also a small number of financial records, including a day book for 1842-45.


  • Creation: 1836-1865


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Levi Ballou was born on 10 May 1806 in Halifax, Windham County, Vermont, the son of Asahel Ballou and Martha Starr. The Ballou family, of Huguenot descent, was central to the history of denominational Universalism in America. Theologically, the Universalists rejected the predestinarianism of Puritan Calvinism and held to the distinguishing principle of the ultimate salvation of all humanity. Organizationally, they were committed to what at times became an extreme form of congregational autonomy. In terms of denominational strength, the movement probably peaked in the late 1840s. Levi Ballou's great-uncle was Rev. Hosea Ballou (1771-1852), the most important American Universalist theolgian of the early nineteenth century; an older brother, Rev. Hosea Ballou II (1796-1861), was the first president of Tufts College, established by the Universalists in 1853. Many other family members (including a second brother, William Starr Ballou) served in the ministry, or otherwise contributed to the Universalist movement. Levi Ballou was a teacher and singing instructor before embarking on the study of theology, with his brother Hosea. He began preaching about 1836, itinerating mostly in the Connecticut River Valley, in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. In 1843 he settled at the First Congregational Parish and Society of Orange, Massachusetts—later known as the Second Universalist Society—in Frankin County, in the north-central part of the state. The parish had long been supportive of Universalist doctrine; Ballou would remain there as pastor for the rest of his life. Besides preaching at Orange and in surrounding parishes, Ballou served on the Orange public school board, and had an active interest in the establishment of Tufts. He married Mary Chase in July 1842, and following Chase's death in 1853, was remarried to Elvira Goodell. Ballou had three children with Chase, and four with Goodell. He died of pneumonia on 27 October 1865, ten days after his last sermon at Orange.


.83 Linear feet

Language of Materials



The manuscript sermons and other personal papers of the Universalist minister Rev. Levi Ballou, who from 1843 to 1865 was settled at the First Congregational Parish and Society of Orange, Massachusetts.


The collection is arranged in four series: 1. Sermons; 2. Miscellaneous Religious Manuscripts; 3. Financial Records; 4. Miscellaneous Papers. Typically, there is one item per folder.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Ballou Papers were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2003, from Dan Casavant Rare Books of Waterville, Maine.

Physical Description

116 documents; 2 containers.

Rev. Levi Ballou PapersMSN/EA 0502
Arranged and described 2003, by George Rugg. Finding aid 2009, by Jacob Baska.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556