Skip to main content

William Goodell Family Papers, Part 1

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: BCA 0179 HC 04

Scope and Contents

The William Goodell Family Papers (Part 1) consists of correspondence, writings, sermons and addresses, diaries, and biographical material of William Goodell (1792-1878), and his two daughters, Maria Goodell Frost (1826-1899) and Lavinia Goodell (1839-1880).


  • created: 1780-1892


Conditions Governing Access

Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on use by researchers other than federal copyright restrictions. Please cite all information and records.


17.00 ms_boxes

Language of Materials



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 (date unknown) and the National Prohibition Party in 1869.  In 1870 he and his wife Clarissa Cady Goodell moved 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, Theodore Weld, Charles Torrey and Lysander Spooner; and various writings. Included in Goodell's writings are manuscripts of Moral Excellence: The Highest Good; Moral Right, The Highest Law; The Theology of Jesus Christ; and Congregationalism, which were never published.  Also present are smaller writings on anti-slavery and temperance and many poems. 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 was also 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 Frost's personal diaries of the years 1874, 1877, and 1879-1884; an unpublished manuscript on the life of Lavinia Goodell; Temperance Essay; and an article entitled Ten Reasons Why Women Should Vote.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, Lewis Clayton Frost; other family members; and her publisher. Lavinia Goodell, the younger daughter of William and Clarissa Goodell, became, in 1874, the first woman lawyer admitted to the Wisconsin bar.  Her papers include 6 personal diaries (1873, 1874, 1876, 1877, 1878, 1879, and 1880) which document her day-to-day activities, and extensive correspondence with family and friends.  Also present is a brief given by Miss Goodell before the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, an essay entitled The Responsibility of the North for Slavery, and other miscellaneous writings. 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).

Arrangement Note

The William Goodell Family Papers (Part 1) are arranged into two series, which are further divided into subseries:

Series 1 - William Goodell Documents

Sub-Series 1A - Writings

Sub-Series 1B - Sermons and Addresses

Sub-Series 1C - Correspondence

Sub-Series 1D - Antislavery Sources

Sub-Series 1E - Temperance

Series 2 - Goodell Family Papers

Sub-Series 2A - Personal and Biographical Family Documents

Sub-Series 2B - Family Correspondence

Sub-Series 2C - Writings of Lavinia Goodell and Maria Frost

Sub-Series 2D - Elizabeth Peck’s notes on the life of Lavinia Goodell

Related Materials

Other Descriptive Information

Berea College students, faculty, and staff can access materials described below through the online Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice: 1490-2007 portal hosted by Adam Matthew Digital at

Collection Number: BCA 0179 HC 04B

Processing Information

The finding aid was updated in February 2016. The finding aid was updated in October 2019 to reflect the addition of Part 2 of the papers.

Finding Aid for William Goodell Family Papers, Part 1
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Berea College Special Collections and Archives Repository

Hutchins Library
100 Campus Drive
Berea Kentucky 40404 US