Society for the Promotion of Theological Education

In 1816, the Society for the Promotion of Theological Education at Harvard University was organized to provide money for instruction in theology and to run the new Harvard Divinity School.

After 1830, the Divinity School faculty assumed direction of the School and dissolved the Society.  A new  Society for Promoting Theological Education was formed and continues today.  A bequest of John Davis Williams in 1848 gave this Society the financial capacity to help worthy Harvard Divinity School students through the Williams Fund.

An account of the "Society for the Promotion of Theological Education in Harvard University" formed in Boston, July 17, 1816 : with the constitution, rules &c. [Harvard Logon]

Historical Sketch, Act of Incorporation, Devise, Decree of Court, By-laws, Officers, and Lists of Members. [Print Only]   Includes memorial inscriptions that were on tables in the first Harvard Divinity School Library (now Farlow Herbarium).

Theological Education in Cambridge University, 1815

Kirkland, John Thornton. Theological education in Cambridge University. : The corporation of Harvard College have thought it their duty to adopt measures for increasing the means of theological education at the university. ... 1815. [Harvard Login]

This 1815 broadside is a proposal "to form a society 'for the education of candidates for the ministry in Cambridge University.'" Includes blank form for subscribers' names.  Signed and dated: In behalf of the corporation, with the assent of the Board of Overseers by John T. Kirkland, President of  Harvard College.

Probably printed by Hilliard and Metcalf, printer for Harvard University in 1815.  Text in two columns; printed area measures 25.5 x 15.8 cm.

Members of the Society for Promoting Theological Education (1820-21)

According to the Constitution of the Society, adopted in 1816, "a donation of fifty dollars, an annual subscription of five dollars, if by a clergyman of two dollars, constituted a person a member of the Society."

John Adams

Rev. Abiel Abbott

Rev. John Allyn 

Mrs. Hannah Amory

Mrs. Elizabeth Amory

John Bright 

Andrew Brimmer

Edward Brooks

Rev. W.E. Channing 

Jonathan Coolidge

Paul Coffin

Rev. Henry Colman 

John Davis

Thomas A. Dexter

Rodolphus Dickerman 

Benjamin Fessenden

Rev. John Foster

Rev. N.L. Frothingham 

Joseph Gates

Benjamin Goddard

Rev. Thomas Gray 

Rev. T.M. Harris

George Hayward

William Hilliard 

John Head

Joseph Head, Jr.

John Heard 

Samuel Hoar

David Hyslop

Jonathan Hunnewell 

Luther Lawrence

William P. Mason

William Minot 

B.R. Nichols

Rev. Asa Packard

Thomas Parsons  

George Partridge

Charles P. Phelps

Benjamin Pierce

Rev. John Pierce

H. Prince

Rev. John S. Popkin

Benjamin Rice

Rev. Ezra Ripley

Rev. Samuel Ripley

Benjamin Russell

Daniel Sargent

Henry Sargent

Lemuel Shaw

William Shimmin

L. Saltonstall

Rev. Samuel Sewell

William Sullivan

George Thatcher

George Thatcher, Jr.

Henry S. Thatcher

Philip S.S. Thatcher

Elisha Ticknor

Richard D. Tucker

Gustavus Tuckerman

Rev. Henry Ware

Rev. William Ware

Rev. Henry Ware, Jr.

William Wells

James H. Wells

Rev. John White

Rev. Peter Whitney

Thomas Wigglesworth

Rev. Samuel Willard

Eben H. Williams

Edmund Winchester

Rev. Noah Worcester

Deacon White


Incorporation of The Society for Promoting Theological Education

Act of Incorporation - Feb. 15, 1826

On February 15, 1826, the Massachusetts legislature approved "An Act to incorporate certain persons by the name of the Society for the Promotion of Theological Education at Cambridge"

Channing's fundraising

Channing, William Ellery. Observations on the Proposition for Increasing the Means of Theological Education at the University in Cambridge. Printed by Hilliard and Metcalf, 1816.

 William Ellery Channing led a campaign to fund Harvard Divinity School.  Observations is Channing's appeal "to the friends of Harvard University, of an enlightened ministry, of free inquiry, and of pure Christianity" (p 20)