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William Goodell Family Papers,1780-1892 (bulk 1820-1878)

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Processed by: staff; machine-readable finding aid created by:M. Plarr


William Goodell Family Papers


1780-1892 (bulk 1820-1878)


Berea College Special CollectionsBerea, Kentucky 40404

Conditions Governing Access note

Copyright has not been assigned to Berea College.

Preferred Citation Note

[Identification of item], William Goodell Family Papers, KYSX133-A, 1780-1892 (bulk 1820-1878)Special Collections, Berea College, Berea, Ky.


6.2 lin. ft.


William Goodell (1792 - 1878), a native of New York, was a prominent 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. In 1869 he was among the organizers of the National Prohibition Party. In 1870 he moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, the residence of his daughters, Maria Goodell Frost and Lavinia Goodell. Maria Frost (1826 - 1899) was the mother of Berea College President William Goodell Frost. Lavinia Goodell (1839 - 1880), a graduate of Ladies Seminary in Brooklyn Heights, wrote and edited for HARPER'S BAZAAR and PRINCIPIA prior to moving to Wisconsin. In 1874, she became the first woman lawyer admitted to the Wisconsin bar.

Scope and Content

Materials consist of correspondence, diaries, and clippings relating to William Goodell and his daughters, Maria Goodell Frost and Lavinia Goodell.

William Goodell's papers (4.4 l.f.) relate to Goodell's work as a temperance and anti-slavery reformer, and to his work as a minister. They include correspondence; manuscript works on temperance, politics, and religion; sermons; and autobiographical notes. Prominent correspondents include abolitionists Gerrit Smith (8 items, 1837 - 1852), Lewis Tappan (44 items, 1834 - 1865), and Lysander Spooner. Personal letters (ca. 100 items) between Goodell, his wife Clarissa, and his children are also present. A manuscript draft of Goodell's unpublished "Theology of Jesus Christ," numerous notes, drafts of papers, sermons (.5 l.f.), and miscellaneous publications on Goodell's life assembled by Berea College library staff are also present.

The Lavinia Goodell papers are comprised of diaries; correspondence; and miscellaneous articles, compositions, and legal documents relating to her writing and legal careers. Six diaries (1873 - 1880; 1875, 1887 missing) are present, providing day-to-day documentation of her activities, legal practice, family relationships, and other subjects. Typed extracts from these were apparently made by Berea College history professor Elizabeth S. Peck, whose biography of Lavinia Goodell is unpublished. Letters (ca. 600 items) from Goodell to various associates, friends, and family members are also present, mostly dating from her youth, although many (150 items; 1871 - 1880) were written while she was studying law.

Maria Goodell Frost papers include diaries (8 vols.; 1874 - 1884, 1875, 1876, and 1878 missing); correspondence, including letters from her son Lewis Clayton Frost (29 items; 1882 - 1888) and letters from her publishers, principally the American Reform Tract and Book Society, Cincinnati, (ca. 20 items; 1855 - 1867); and a holographic manuscript biography of Lavinia Goodell (234 ls.), accompanied by miscellaneous notes. Other Maria Frost correspondence may be found with materials labelled Lavinia Goodell correspondence.

A portion of Lavinia Goodell's letters is correspondence of other family members which have been interfiled randomly, including some Maria Frost correspondence.


  • Abolitionists -- Madison County, Kentucky
  • Temperance
  • Schools -- Ladies Seminary
  • Slavery -- Anti-slavery movements
  • Women -- Personal narratives
  • Women -- Lawyers
  • Theology of Jesus Christ, by William Goodell (manuscript)
  • Clergy -- Sermons
  • Cincinnati, Ohio -- American Reform Tract and Book Society
  • Brooklyn Heights, New York -- Ladies Seminary

User Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Hosted by the University of Kentucky

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