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William H. Ryder Collection of Confederate History
Scope and Contents
- Majority of material found within 1860 -- 1875
- 1770 -- 1940
- Ryder, William H., Reverend (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Biographical / Historical
William Henry Ryder was born in Provincetown, Massachusetts July 18, 1822 of Universalist parents. His father was Captain Godfrey Ryder, a prominent Universalist on Cape Cod. William was trained at Pembroke, NH and his theological preparation for the ministry was at Clinton, NY. He was ordained at Concord, NH on October 11, 1843 where he continued as pastor. In 1846 he took charge of the parish at Nashua and on resigning his charge there made an extensive tour abroad visiting Palestine and spending seven months in Germany to study. On his return, he took charge of the church at Roxbury, Mass. where he remained ten years. In 1860 he became pastor of St. Paul's Church Chicago holding the position until 1882 when he resigned. Harvard College conferred on him the degree of AM in 1860 and Lombard University that of DD in 1863.
Reverend Ryder was a strong supporter of the Union cause during the Civil War. He agreed to travel to Richmond as an agent of the Sanitary Commission at the end of the war to collect material for the upcoming Sanitary Commission Fair, and while there discovered a famous letter used by the government in the Lincoln assassination trial.
Dr. Ryder was an eminently successful preacher and pastor, renown for his involvement in interests at home and in foreign missions. He was extremely shrewd in his financial investments, so that upon his death he was able to make generous bequests to the General Convention, Lombard University, St. Paul's Church Chicago, First Universalist Society Provincetown Mass., Illinois Universalist Convention, the Divinity Schools at St. Lawrence, Tufts, Lombard Buchtel College, and the Universalist Publishing House. He died in Chicago on March 7, 1888 in his 66th year.
4.7 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
181 Digital Object(s)
Language of Materials
Other Finding Aids
The Ryder Collection of Confederate Archives derives its name from its original collector, Reverend William H. Ryder, the Pastor of St. Paul's Church in Chicago. Ryder held this pastorate during the time that included the civil war. It was because of his work with the American Sanitary Commission, an agency not unlike the present-day Red Cross, that the Ryder Collection came to be.
In April of 1865, Ryder obtained permission to travel behind Confederate lines to engage in relief work on behalf of the Sanitary Commission. While engaged in this activity he also began to collect artifacts and other material for the upcoming North West Sanitary Fair to be held in Chicago. Since the Confederacy had collapsed only a few days before his arrival, Ryder found the capital at Richmond, Virginia in a state of considerable confusion. In the Capital building, documents were scattered over several of the office floors indicating the haste with which the place had been abandoned. Ryder gathered as many of these documents as he could handle and sent them back to the north. Upon Ryder's death, this collection was given to Tufts College, founded as a Universalist institution, as he was a clergyman of that faith.
As of 2012 there is no precise inventory documenting all items of the gift for was precise information contained in his will. At the time the library mentioned the Ryder donation in its Annual Report 1889 as containing "1441 volumes of books, 112 pamphlets, 101 numbers and a great quality of Confederate newspapers and documents, cases and a fine portrait." (UA137.003.005.00048). Therefore, we still do not know what the collection actually contained originally and where the remaining material is (clearly more than cataloged in this collection).
On February 26 2014, Susanne Belovari found six library cataloging cards listing particular issues of three Confederate newspapers (1864-1865) once part of the Ryder collection and kept in the library vault in the 1960s.
- Language of description
- Script of description