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Samuel Kirkland

Image - Rev. Samuel Kirkland


Manuscript materials related to Samuel Kirkland (1741-1808), founder of Hamilton-Oneida Academy, which became Hamilton College soon after his death.


Includes 647 letters, legal documents, and memos, some of which are written in an Iroquois language. 102 of the letters have been transcribed and can be searched by keywords or phrases. Ask the Archives ( about others.


Samuel Kirkland was born in 1741, the son of a Congregational minister in Norwich, Connecticut. He went to Eleazar Wheelock's Moor's Indian School, where he learned the language of the Iroquois Indians, and studied for the ministry at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), before leaving in 1764 for a remote region of central New York State to minister to the Seneca Indians. This mission did not go well, so a few years later he relocated to live among the Oneida Indians in Kanonwarohare (now Oneida Castle), New York. In 1766 he brought a few other missionaries from the Indian school of the Rev. Dr. Wheelock, in Lebanon, Connecticut, to help him set up a school for the Oneidas. Their endeavors were interrupted for several years by the American Revolution, during which Kirkland helped keep the Oneidas on the side of the revolutionaries. In 1785 he returned to resume his work among the Oneidas. In 1793, Kirkland founded the Hamilton-Oneida Academy for the education of the Oneidas and the children of settlers. After forty years of living among the Indians, Kirkland died at Paris (Clinton), Oneida County, on March 18, 1808, at the age of 66. Four years after his death, in 1812, the Academy became Hamilton College.


Digitization of this collection was done in-house at 600 dpi, 24-bit color and saved as uncompressed TIF images. Images are delivered using JPEG2000, which provides for zoom and pan viewing.


Every document has been fully cataloged and can be searched by the name of the creator, recipient, date, geographic locations, and subject headings.


Typescripts of 102 of the letters made by the College Archives during the 1970's were digitized in 2008 and can now be searched by keywords or phrases.

Online Resources

Print Resources

  • The journal of Samuel Kirkland: 18th century missionary to the Iroquois, government agent, father of Hamilton College, by Samuel Kirkland, Walter Pilkington, editor (Clinton, N.Y.: Hamilton College, 1980), 459 p.  (held by Hamilton College - HAM COLL HE K62ja 1980)

  • The life and times of Samuel Kirkland, 1741-1808 : missionary to the Oneida Indians, American patriot, and founder of Hamilton College, by Christine Sternberg Patrick (Thesis (Ph. D.)--State University of New York at Buffalo, University Microfilms International, 1993), 621 p. (held by Hamilton College: HAM COLL HE K64 P3 1993)


Katherine Collett, Archivist
Telephone: (315) 859-4471


Hamilton College Archives
Burke Library
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

(Reviewed: September 27, 2013)


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