Accession Number: HC 4
William Goodell Family Papers, 1780-1892
Bulk dates: 1820-1878
9 linear feet
Online Catalog Record (BANC)
Series II - Goodell Family Papers -Overview
Series I - William Goodell Documents - Overview
Access and Use
Provenance: Following his mother's death in in Berea in 1899, William
Goodell Frost, third president of Berea College, placed the Goodell family
papers in the Berea College Library (some had already been donated to Oberlin
College while he was a faculty member there.). His mother, Maria Goodell
Frost, was the daughter of William and Clarissa Goodell
Access: All of the archival materials described below may be accessed online through
the portal entitled "Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice: 1490-2007," hosted by Adam Matthew Digital and available through participating libaries. There are no restrictions on the collection other than federal copyright regulations.
Citation: The William Goodell Family Papers,
Berea College Special Collections & Archives,
03 - The Antislavery Collection
- RG 1 - Founders & Founding, BCA
- RG 3.03 - William G. Frost Papers
- William Goodell Family Papers (RG 30/29), Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.
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The William Goodell Family
Papers consist of correspondence, writings, sermons and addresses, diaries,
and biographical material of abolitionist editor, writer, and speaker William
Goodell (1792-1878), his wife Clarissa, and his two daughters,
Maria Goodell Frost (1826-1899) and Lavinia
(1839-1880). Like their parents, the Goodell daughters supported the temperance
and antislavery movements, but also sought equal rights for women and, in Lavinia's
case, prison reform. Lavinia Goodell is noteworthy as the first woman to gain
recognition as a lawyer in the state of Wisconsin.
William Goodell, a native of New York, was a prominent 19th century abolitionist
and temperance reformer. He either edited or published such reform-minded publications
as The Investigator and General Intelligencer, Friend
of Man, Christian Investigator, and Principia. Although
never ordained, he
founded a church in Honeoye,
New York, in 1842, based on the principles of emancipation, prohibition and
church reform. Goodell was among those who organized the American Missionary
Society and the National Prohibition Party.
In 1870 he and his wife, Clarissa Cady Goodell, removed to Janesville, Wisconsin,
home of their two daughters, where he remained until his death. The collection
includes over 380 of Goodell's sermons and addresses; correspondence with family,
colleagues, and such prominent abolitionists as Gerrit Smith, Lewis Tappan,
Henry Stanton, Lysander Spooner, Charles Torrey, and Henry Stanton; and various
writings. Included in Goodell's writings are manuscripts of Moral Excellence:
The Highest Good; Moral
Highest Law; The Theology of Jesus Christ; and Congregationalism,
which were never published. Also present are smaller writings on anti-slavery
as well as many poems.
Clarissa Maria Goodell Frost, eldest daughter of William and Clarissa Goodell,
was the mother of Berea College's third president-William G. Frost. Like her
father, Maria was an advocate of both abolitionist and temperance reform. She
active in the women's suffrage movement. Included in the collection are Mrs.
Frost's personal diaries of the years 1874, 1877, and 1879-1884; an unpublished
manuscript on the life of her sister, Lavinia Goodell; a Temperance Essay;
and an article entitled "Ten Reasons Why Women Should Vote." Correspondence
includes letters to and from Mrs. Frost's husband, Rev. Lewis Frost; her son,
Frost; other family members; and her publisher.
Rhoda Lavinia Goodell, the younger daughter of William and Clarissa Goodell,
became, in 1874, the first woman lawyer admitted to the Wisconsin bar. Her
6 personal diaries (1873, 1874, 1876, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880) which document
her day-to-day activities, and extensive correspondence with family and friends.
Also present is a brief Miss Goodell presented before the Wisconsin State
Supreme Court, an essay, "The Responsibility of the North for Slavery," and
other miscellaneous writings.
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19 Manuscript Boxes, 9 linear feet
(Box list available by clicking series links below)
Goodell Documents - Overview
Includes writings, sermons and addresses, correspondence and some
anti-slavery materials from William Goodell. This series relates
to Goodell's work as a journalist, minister, and temperance and
These documents by William Goodell include notes, essays, poems, and a book-length manuscript that remained unpublished.
Although Goodell never went to seminary and was never ordained,
he formed a church in New York state, based on an evangelical
understanding of Christianity but not restricted to one denomination.
Freedom from denominational control meant the congregations was
also free to receive persons of color and oppose slaveholding as
This series includes both numerous sermons prepared for the church
in Honeyeye, as well as addresses prepared for reform-minded
audiences elsewhere, or for conferences or conventions.
William Goodell corresponded with most of the prominent 19th century
abolitionists in the United States, often in connection with items
published in one or another of the periodicals he edited, such
as The Investigator and Principia. Some of the
letters are about subscriptions, but many more discuss the key
among the reformers and abolitionists of the 19th century. Goodell
was also involved in political conventions, formation of the
American Missionary Society,
later the Temperance platform that was represented by presidential
candidate James Black.
Records and Clippings
|| Box 11, cont.
This section contains circulars, reviews, and other printed documents,
including William Goodell's 1833 appointment to serve as an agent
of the Antislavery Society for three months. Another folder includes
letters and information regarding the
antislavery collection developed by Oberlin librarian H Matson
with assistance fromWilliam Goodell Frost; a handwritten account
of the life of the Rev. Daniel Worth, who was imprisoned in
North Carolina for preaching against slavery; clippings, including
one from Harper's Bazaar summarizing Goodell's career; Goodell's
published account of his interview with President Lincoln, and
This series consists of published Temperance pamphlets collected by William Goodell, then held in the possesion of William Goodell and Eleanor Frost, finally donated to Berea College by Norman Frost c1956. Pamphlets date from 1830-1879 and were added to the collection in April 2011.
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Family Papers - Overview
|| Boxes 12-17
This series consists primarily of personal records of Maria G.
Frost and Lavinia Goodell, as well as the more personal letters
and an autobiography by William
Goodell. Writings by the Goodell sisters are collected here.
Most of these are small diaries kept by Maria Frost and Lavinia
Much of Maria's correspondence with her husband Lewis Frost,
her sister, parents, and children, is preserved here. Lavinia's
personal correspondence is also preserved, mostly with family members
A historically signficant document, Lavinia's brief for presentation
to the Wisconsin Supreme Court makes a compelling argument, and its
acceptance sealed her efforts to see women lawyers recognized.. Maria's
account of her sister's life and her statement on women's suffrange
are also of great interest.
Elizabeth Peck, who started teaching at Berea in 1912, wrote
a book-length manuscript about Lavinia Goodell that was never published.
some of Lavinia's letters and diary entries from the William Goodell
Family Papers in the process of her research. The categories she
used to arrange her typed notes and
transcriptions is preserved in this box. Some folders are empty (Pictures),
some have only a few lines, while others are more extensive. Elizabeth
Peck's use of this material may be traced in the earlier draft of her
manuscript on Lavinia Goodell in the Berea College Archives, and
in the final version, in the Berea Collection, entitled, So Life is
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