Materials in the collection have been organized into six series:
Series I, Professional Correspondence
Series II, Sermons, Addresses, and Writings
Series III, Biographical Information
Series IV, Miscellaneous
Series V, Personal Correspondence, 1782-1825
Series VI, Artifacts
The professional and personal correspondence is organized by date written. The Sermons, addresses, writings are arranged in approximate alphabetical order.
Scope and Contents
The Richard Furman Papers consists of correspondence, sermons, addresses and writings, biographical material, sketches and artifacts.
The bulk of the collection is correspondence, divided into series for professional and personal. It is unknown whether the donors made this distinction or the initial processor. The majority are recipient copies. The earliest letters begin while Furman was still pastor at the High Hills Baptist Church. The principal correspondents of the professional series include Oliver Hart, Charles Screven, Edmund Botsford, and Joseph B. Cook. The topics pertain to affairs in Baptist churches in the South Carolina low country, giving his opinions on current events, Baptist work, and mentioning the names of many of the Baptist leaders of the time. There is also correspondence from John M. Roberts, who had been a student under Richard Furman and had attended Rhode Island College to be educated for the ministry. After graduation, Roberts settled in the High Hills of Santee area in 1797, the area where Richard Furman grew up, and Roberts became the pastor of the High Hills Baptist Church in 1799, the former pastorate of Furman. There are two letters to Furman in this series from “M.E. Huger,” 1798 and 1799. The letters were likely kept thinking this was a man; however, this was Mary Esther (Kinloch) Huger, a contemporary of Furman and an Anglican. Written as a response to Richard Furman, Mary’s letters describe personal loss, friendship, religious faith, and gratitude.
A majority of the letters in the Personal Correspondence series are written by Richard Furman to family members; his second wife Dorothea (1774-1819), his mother-in-law Mary (Glas) Burn McDonald (1756-1817), his sister Sarah (Furman) Haynsworth (1751-1831) and her husband Henry Haynsworth (1746-1823), his brother Josiah (1744-1800), his son Wood (1774-1890), and his mother Rachel (Brodhead) Furman (1722-1794). Furman receives several letters from his son, John Gano Furman (1806-1830) and his sister-in-law Ann (McDonald) Martin Brantly, (1781-1818). The earliest letter is to his father, Wood Furman (1712-1783).
There are two letters written to Furman, likely from Sarah Warner Fish, wife of Jesse Fish, owner of many acres of orange groves on the parcel of land now called Fish Island in Florida, in or about the mid-18th century; and Sarah's daughter, Phebe Furman Perpall (1770-1806). Phebe mentions [Richard Furman’s children] her cousin Wood [Furman] (1779-1840), and Mrs. Baker [Wood’s sister Rachel Furman 1777-1848, who married Thomas Baker in 1796].
The writings include sermons (arranged alphabetically by topic), addresses, and other writings on various subjects, such as slavery, prayer, and treatment for disease.
A bound manuscript in the Miscellaneous series contains "Lectures by Doctor Hugh Blair, Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in The University of Edinburgh, 1772," presented to Richard Furman, “by Rev. Mr. James Wilson, by whom it was written in May 1793.”
The artifacts include spectacles [eyeglasses] identified as being Richard Furman’s, his inkwell and quill; a stock pin worn by Richard Furman, and a copy of the Charleston Baptist Association minutes owned by Richard Furman.