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James Clement Furman D.D. Papers, 1827-1892

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Materials in the collection have been organized into five series:

Series 1: Professional Correspondence, Box 1-2

Series 2: Personal Correspondence Box 3-5

Series 3: Sermons, Addresses, and Writings, Box 6-9

Series 4: Notebooks, Box 10

Series 5: Miscellany, Box 11, 12

The professional and personal correspondence is organized by date written with undated correspondence at the end of each series. The sermons, addresses, writings are arranged in approximate alphabetical order.

Scope and Contents

The papers of James C. Furman contain a broad assortment of materials, most of which date from the beginning of his career as a Baptist preacher in 1828 to his death in 1891. The collection of papers includes both personal and denominational correspondence, as well as sermons, speeches, and writings. A group of small notebooks includes various types of information, from records of funds raised by Furman for the denomination to herbal remedies. The collection contains booklets and papers that belonged to other family members, including his wives, and Hannah Bowers Furman, the first wife of his brother Wood. Throughout the papers are unidentified hand drawn sketches of people, places, and animals.

Series 1: Professional Correspondence  

Correspondence in this series dates from 1827 to 1892. There are 623 items, including both letters to James C. Furman (approximately 486) and copies of letters from him. Such letters are primarily between Furman and other Baptist ministers, but personal matters and university business are often included since family and friends were involved in all aspects. Condolence letters to Mary G. (Davis) Furman after her husband’s death are included in this series.

Frequent correspondents include James P. Boyce, William Brantley, William B. Heriot, Col. Alexander J. Lawton, Rev. T. P. Lide, Basil Manly, Jr., James McDaniel, Rev. Thomas Meredith, James S. Mims, John B. O’Neall, Robert A. Napier, Rev. Isaac Nicholes [Jr.], J. L. Reynolds, Alexander C. Smith, Rev. John Stout, C.H. Toy, H.A. Tupper and Rev. E.T. Winkler. One letter of note to Rev. J.B. Hartwell (1835-1912) on October 5, 1860 related suspension of students due to a duel on the Furman University campus. Furman wrote on the same subject to his wife on September 3, 1860 (in Personal Correspondence). The only year in this series not represented is 1864.

Series 2: Personal Correspondence

Series contains personal letters dating from 1827-1891 between JCF and his siblings and immediate and extended family. Correspondence with members of the Davis family and between JCF and his wives, before and after marriage are included. Oversize letters are in Box 5 – Oversize Correspondence. Frequent correspondents include:

  • His step-brother Wood (1779-1840), his siblings Richard B. (1790-1846), Samuel (1792-1877), Josiah B. (1795-1842), Charles Manning (1797-1872), Maria Dorothea (1799-1870), Henry Hart (1801-1841), Thomas Fuller (1807-1866), and Anne Eliza (1812-1897).
  • Daughter, Rebecca Dorothea "Dora" Furman (1838-1917).
  • Cousin, Maria (Baker) Taylor (1813-1895), daughter of JCF’s step-sister Rachel.
  • Friend, Elizabeth (Witherspoon) Williams (1782-1840), wife of S.C. Gov. David R. Williams.

Of note are three letters from JCF to Mary G. Davis in February 1853 concerning the disagreement between himself and her father, Rev. Jonathan Davis. Davis was in charge of Furman’s planting and of working his enslaved persons and a problem arose regarding his disciplining of them. See Jonathan Davis Family Papers, Box 1, folder 13 and 4 Apr 1853 letter from Mary to brother Nathan.

Series 3: Sermons, Addresses, and Writings

Papers in this series are largely sermons (published and unpublished) or sermon notes.  Other types of documents, such as letters, addresses and speeches, are denoted as such.  Descriptive notes include length and style of document, and in some cases condition of document.  The author is usually James Clement Furman, unless otherwise noted.  The vast majority of documents in this series do not contain dates (those that do are noted).  


Materials appear to date from 1828 through 1890, but are largely undated and untitled.  A significant number of the sermons are in poor condition and are partially illegible.  Many of these are written on strips of paper as narrow as one inch, and have been folded into small, one or two-inch rectangles.  All such sermons are written in a precise, often minute, script, but time and the elements have taken their toll.

Addresses and Writings

Most materials are poetry and hymn lyrics; some may be speech notes rather than sermons, as Furman was politically active and was a popular public speaker in addition to being a preacher. Of note is a draft of a speech Furman gave at a mass meeting in the Court House on November 22, 1860. Furman was asked to address his fellow-citizens, who were a minority party in the county, in favor of secession. Furman was one of five citizens elected to attend the December 17, 1860 Convention where the ordinance of secession was passed on the 20th.

Series 4: Notebooks

Papers in this series are notebooks (literally, bound pages in books) or notebook material (unbound).  Notes include description of notebook (color, size, condition, date) and number of pages.  The author is James Clement Furman unless otherwise noted.  Documents are arranged in approximate alphabetical order. The materials in this series contain notes of visits, fund-raising accounts, class lectures, and medical remedies.  Additionally, records of enslaved families kept by Harriet Davis Furman are noted on the cover of a ledger.

Series 5: Miscellany

Series contains notes, letters, publications, and drawings of various people by Furman, as well as his 1828 license to preach and a transcription of his Will. Three pieces of confederate currency belonging to Furman are included. Materials relate to Furman, but do not specifically match other series in content. James C. Furman’s spectacles [eyeglasses], feather pen and glass inkwell.