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John and Sarah McMahon Journals

Identifier: MSN/MN 8006

Scope and Contents

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.


  • Creation: 1865-1897


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

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.


.5 Cubic Feet (1 container and 1 bound volume)

Language of Materials



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.


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

Related Materials

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.

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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