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Brown Emerson Papers, 1799-1970, undated

Identifier: MSS 340

Scope and Content Note

Series I. Reverend Brown Emerson Papers consists of papers of Rev. Brown Emerson, pastor of South Church in Salem, Massachusetts, for 67 years. Many are handwritten, and they include sermons, diaries, records of meetings, correspondence, and South Church records and history. Also included are printed sermons, pamphlets, and photographs. SERIES II: Papers of Brown Emerson Relatives, consists of legal papers, correspondence, and genealogical notes from Emerson relatives, including the Rowley, Carter, and Latting families.

In Series I. Reverend Brown Emerson Papers, Folder 1, nine sermons handwritten by Brown Emerson span the years 1805 to 1852. Folder 2 holds a transcript of his "Answer to the Call of JC", in which he accepted the call of South Church in January 1805. Folder 3 contains a personal diary with notations every year from 1799 (age 21) to 1833 (age 55), that summarizes the highpoints of his career, both professional and personal.

Brown Emerson travelled abroad only once, in 1846. His diary (F4) describes travel in Ireland, England, Scotland, and France. Upon his return he spoke at the Salem Lyceum about his impressions of these countries (F5). Folder 6 holds a brief biographical sketch that Brown Emerson wrote about his youngest brother Noah (1788-1860). Noah, also a minister, was a controversial figure known for his compassion for the poor. One letter to Brown Emerson's granddaughter Harriet Latting is contained in Folder 7.

The book in Folder 8 records the meetings of the Religious Conference of ministers from Salem, Beverly, and Marblehead, which met from 1804 to 1823. The same book records "Deaths in the South Society, Salem" from 1826 to 1859. Brown Emerson and his brothers formed a Family Convention in 1808. According to Emerson's record book (F9), this group met annually until 1818 when it was dissolved. Of particular interest are the records Emerson kept of his sermons, noting the topic, biblical reference, dates and locations of delivery. Two books (F10) are present in this collection, spanning sermons #771 (1820) to #1750 (1852).

There are five unbound record books in Folder 11. These concern "Exchanges and Help" between local ministries (1807-1859), "South Society Deaths" (1812-1826), a statement before the Essex County Conference of Churches (1829), a list of pastors in Salem churches from 1629 to 1849, and a "General Index" of topics and relevant literary and biblical references to them. Folder 12 contains South Church collection receipts.

Folder 13 contains two printed copies of a sermon preached by Rev. Daniel Hopkins, pastor of South Church from 1778 to 1814, at the dedication of the New South Meeting House in 1805. Folder 14 contains three printed sermons of Rev. Brown Emerson. Folder 15 holds his copy of the "Annals of Salem from its First Settlement" in 1661, and Folder 16 contains a pamphlet "Reminiscences of a New England Church and People" (1907), which contains a description of South Church and its pastors. Photographs in Folder 17 depict the Brown Emerson house, the Emerson burial plot in Salem, the Emerson coat-of-arms, and the South Church. There are also two photographs (one hand-painted) of Harriet Emerson Latting in a silk gown, originally worn by Susanna Saunders Hopkins, Brown Emerson's mother-in-law.

In Series II. Papers of Brown Emerson Relatives, Folder 18 contains legal papers and correspondence belonging to a few of Brown Emerson's relatives, including Susanna Rowley, James Carter, and Sarah (Emerson) Nichols. Folder 19 contains a sermon preached at the funeral of Helen Anderson Leslie Carter, most likely Isabella Carter's mother. Finally, Folder 20 includes papers from Latting descendants, mostly concerning donations of family memorabilia to museums in New York and Salem. Also present are genealogical notes about the Hopkins and Emerson families.


  • Creation: 1799-1970, undated


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketch

Brown Emerson, the son of John and Catherine (Eaton) Emerson, was born on January 8, 1778, in Ashby, Massachusetts. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1802, studied divinity, and was ordained as an associate pastor of South Congregational Church in Salem, Massachusetts, on April 24, 1805, where he remained as pastor for 67 years. In 1835 he was honored with a D.D. degree from his alma mater. Brown Emerson married Mary, daughter of Rev. Daniel Hopkins, on October 29, 1806, and they had ten children. He died in Salem on July 25, 1872.


.92 linear feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection contains papers of Reverend Brown Emerson, pastor of South Church in of Salem (Mass.) for 67 years. Also includes legal papers, correspondence, and genealogical notes from Emerson relatives, including the Rowley, Carter, and Latting families.

Series List

SERIES I. Reverend Brown Emerson Papers

SERIES II. Papers of Brown Emerson Relatives

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


Some of this material was donated by Rev. James F. Brodie, Helen Leslie Latting, Mrs. T. B. Russell, or Josephine Latting (Mrs. W.H.) Shotwell. The provenance of the rest of the collection is unknown. The photo album in box two was found in the collection December 2021.

Related Collections

Emerson, Benjamin Kendall. The Ipswich Emersons, 1636-1900. Boston: David Clapp & Son, 1900.

For additional discourses and sermons by Emerson Brown, visit Philcat, our online catalog.

Processing Information

Collection processed and cataloged by Lee Jacoby, November 2011.

Inventory prepared by Lee Jacoby
Language of description
Script of description
Processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the NHPRC (National Historical Publications and Records Commission).

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA