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George Allen Beecher, 1868-1951


RG2509.AM:  George Allen Beecher, 1868-1951

Papers:  1882-1950
Nebraska:  Episcopal Bishop
Size:  24 boxes

BACKGROUND NOTE

George Allen Beecher was born February 3, 1868, in Monmouth, Illinois. At the age of fourteen he moved with his family to Kearney, Nebraska, where he completed his secondary education in the Kearney schools. He entered the University of Nebraska in 1886 but left during his junior year to teach school and tutor under the Rev. R.H. Oliver, rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Kearney. The rector prepared young Beecher for the Philadelphia Divinity School from which he graduated in 1892.

Beecher's fifty-one year ministry as a deacon, priest, and bishop was spent entirely within the state of Nebraska. After graduating from divinity school he returned to Kearney where the Rt. Rev. Anson R. Graves ordained him on July 3, 1892 in "the little old St. Luke's Church." His first charge was the Fort Sidney Mission where he was responsible for all of his church's endeavors within an area of five thousand miles. He took with him as his bride the former Florence Idella George of Racine, Wisconsin. They had met while she was teaching in the public schools of Kearney and were married on June 22, 1893. Rev. Beecher went from the Sidney mission to North Platte, where he served as rector of the Church of Our Savior from 1895 to 1903. He next served as rector of St. Luke's Church in Kearney in 1903 and 1904 and then became dean of Trinity Cathedral in Omaha. On November 30, 1910, he was consecrated Bishop of the Missionary District of Western Nebraska and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1943.

Rt. Rev. Beecher was bishop of an organized district which has been consecutively named the Platte, the Laramie, and Kearney District. After Bishop Graves' retirement in 1910, the general convention limited the area of the district to western Nebraska. Thus Rt. Rev. Beecher was the only bishop ever to serve the Missionary District of Western Nebraska. The missionary district was merged with the Nebraska Diocese after his retirement in 1943, placing the entire area within the boundaries of Nebraska under one organization.

During his residence in Omaha, Bishop Beecher formed an intense interest in civic problems. He worked closely with the Nebraska Juvenile Court for many years, caring for girls and boys paroled to him and conducting summer camps for them. From 1906 to 1947 he served as trustee of Brownell Hall, a school for girls in Omaha, and as President of the Board of Trustees of Bishop Clarkson Memorial Hospital, also in Omaha. After 1910 he maintained residence in Hastings, but made frequent trips throughout the state. He died on June 14, 1951, and was buried in the cemetery at Kearney.

Bishop Beecher was editor for The Platte Missionary and the Western Nebraska Churchman, both Episcopal publications. In 1944 he edited a short history, The Story of St. Mark's Parish and Pro-Cathedral. His autobiography, A Bishop on the Great Plains, was published by the Church Historical Society in 1950.

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

The Bishop Beecher papers contain approximately seven thousand items arranged in ten series: (1) General Correspondence, (2) Journal and Memoranda, (3) Notes, (4) Manuscripts, (5) Records of the Protestant Episcopal Church, (6) Newspaper Clippings, (7) Miscellaneous Material, (8) Account Books kept by Bishop Graves, (9) Ledgers, and (10) Scrapbooks.

The Beecher papers relate to the early Episcopal Church in Nebraska; to the bishop's efforts on behalf of the Kearney Military Academy, the Japanese Americanization Society of Nebraska and the Sioux Memorial Association; and to life in general on the Nebraska frontier. These papers also relate to close friends of the bishop like Colonel William "Buffalo Bill" Cody and Willa Cather.

Approximately 3,500 letters form the bulk of the Beecher collection. Although the correspondence spans the years 1889 to 1950, approximately half of the letters cover the last ten years of the bishop's life and much of the correspondence concerns only family and personal matters. The correspondence is located both in series one and in the scrapbooks which form the last series of this collection. Correspondents are, with the exception of Willa Cather, chiefly relatives or clergymen; they include: Willa Cather, 1934-1947; James H. Haney, 1937-1949; and George G. Ware, 1912-1917. The next two series contain notes made by Bishop Beecher while a divinity student in Philadelphia, 1889-1892; sermon notes used by him, 1892-1909; and journals and memoranda, 1887-1940. Of particular interest is his "journal of events" of which only five volumes, 1891-1906, are extant.

Series 4 contains manuscript material written by Bishop Beecher and other clergymen which dates from 1908 to 1947 and relates to the early church and pioneers in Nebraska. Included in this series are several addresses made by the Bishop. The records of the Protestant Episcopal Church pertain largely to the Western Nebraska Missionary District. These span the years 1900-1944 and include reports, petitions, minutes of meetings of the Council of Advice, and correspondence. A file of newspaper clippings dates from 1908-1940. The arrangement is largely topical, with notes by Bishop Beecher. Miscellaneous items include greeting cards, 1946-1950; biographical data, genealogical data, personal bills and receipts, 1919-1950, and memorabilia.

Ledgers and account books form Series 8 and 9. Five account books kept by Bishop Anson R. Graves contain a record of church funds from 1890-1910. Beecher's ledgers contain records which date from 1937-1949 and include such entries as births, baptisms, and marriages as well as financial accounts. Four scrapbooks complete the Beecher collection. These date from 1933-1941 and are composed largely of miscellaneous clippings and letters of congratulation.

Note:  See the NSHS Library catalog for various publications by/about George Allen Beecher. See the photo component [RG2509.PH] for photographs of George Allen Beecher. See the Nebraska History Index for various articles by/about George Allen Beecher.

DESCRIPTION

Series 1 - General Correspondence

Box 1
Folder
  1. 1889-1890, May 25
  2. 1890, May 26 - 1892, Aug. 10
  3. 1892, Aug. 23 - 1893, June
  4. 1900-1904
  5. 1905-1909
Box 2
Folder
  1. 1910-1912, Jan.
  2. 1912, Feb.-Dec.
  3. 1913, Jan.-Nov.
  4. 1913, Dec. - 1915
  5. 1916-1917, Aug.
  6. 1917, Sept.
Box 3
Folder
  1. 1917, Oct.-Dec.
  2. 1918-1919
  3. 1920-1921, Jan.
  4. 1921, Feb. - 1922, Apr.
  5. 1922, May - 1925
  6. 1926-1929
Box 4
Folder
  1. 1930-1935, Oct.
  2. 1935, Nov.
  3. 1935, Dec. - 1936
  4. 1937-1938, Sept.
  5. 1938, Oct. - 1939, Feb.
  6. 1939, Mar.-May 15
Box 5
Folder
  1. 1939, May 16-Aug.
  2. 1939, Sept.-Nov 15
  3. 1939, Nov 16 - 1940, Apr.
  4. 1942-1943, Mar 11
  5. 1943, Mar. 12-Aug.
Box 6
Folder
  1. 1943, Sept.-Dec 10
  2. 1943, Dec. 11 - 1944, Sept.
  3. 1944, Oct. - 1945, Jan.
  4. 1945, Feb.-May
  5. 1945, June-Aug.
  6. 1945, Sept. - 1946, Apr.
Box 7
Folder
  1. 1946, May-Nov.
  2. 1946, Dec. - 1947, Jan. 15
  3. 1947, Jan. 16-Feb. 15
  4. 1947, Apr.-May 25
Box 8
Folder
  1. 1947, May 26-June
  2. 1947, July-Aug.
  3. 1947, Sept.-Oct. 21
  4. 1948, Jan.-Apr.
  5. 1948, May-Oct.
Box 9
Folder
  1. 1948, Nov. - 1949, Jan.
  2. 1949, Feb.-Apr.
  3. 1949, May-Sept.
  4. 1949, Oct.-Dec.
  5. 1950, Jan.-Feb.
  6. 1950, Mar.-June
Box 10
Folder
  1. Undated Correspondence
  2. Correspondence in scrapbooks, mostly dated 1910. Includes three Willa Cather letters, 1935, 1939, 1941
Box 11
Folder
  1. Misc. undated correspondence

Series 2 - Journal and Memoranda

Box 12
Folder
  1. "Journal of events," 5 volumes, 1891-1906
  2. "International Prison Congress," 1910
  3. "General Convention" [Chicago], 1913
  4. "Bishop Beecher's Journal," 1940, May-June [typed]
  5. 46 pocket memorandum books, 1887-1940

Series 3 - Notes

Box 13
Folder
  1. Notes made by Bishop Beecher while a student at Philadelphia Divinity School, ca. 1889-1892
  2. Sermons, 1882-1909

Series 4 - Manuscripts

Box 14
Folder
  1. 16th Trinity History Why Missions
  2. St. Mark's Church
  3. Address of Bishop Beecher before the judiciary Committee of the Senate on March 15, 1921
  4. Church Records - Petitions 1900-1925
  5. Church Records - District of Western Nebraska, 1916-1922
  6. Church Records - Council of Advice
  7. Miss Annie Kranph

Series 5 - Records of the Protestant Episcopal Church

  1. William G. Purcell, by Bishop George A. Beecher, 1947
  2. Church Records - National Council
Box 15
Folder
  1. Church Records - National Council, 1938-1944
  2. Church Records - 1943

Series 6 - Newspaper Clippings

  1. Clippings
Box 16
Folder
  1. Envelopes with Newspaper Clippings and Notes
Box 17
Folder
  1. Envelopes with Newspaper Clippings and Notes
Box 18
Folder
  1. Envelopes with Newspaper Clippings and Notes
Box 19
Folder
  1. Envelopes with Newspaper Clippings and Notes

Series 7 - Miscellaneous Material

Box 20
Folder
  1. Christmas Cards, ca. 1946-1950
  2. Other Greeting Cards, ca. 1946-1950
Box 21
Folder
  1. Biographical data
  2. Genealogical data on the Beecher family
  3. Certificate of Ordination as Deacon
  4. Financial records: bills, receipts, tax statements, contracts, insurance policies, 1919-1950
Box 22
Folder
  1. Misc. programs, invitations, membership cards, memorabilia, etc.
Box 23
Folder
  1. Misc. programs, invitations, membership cards, memorabilia, etc.

Series 8 - Account Books kept by Bishop Graves

Box 24
Folder
  1. Book of Trust Funds
  2. Financial Journals
  3. Accounts with Missionaries
  4. Book of Balance Sheets

(Oversize) Miscellaneous documents and certificates

 

ADDED ENTRIES:

Beecher, George Allen, 1868-1951
Cather, Willa Sibert, 1873-1947
Clergy -- Nebraska
Episcopal Church in Nebraska
Graves, Anson Rogers
Japanese Americanization Society of Nebraska
Kearney Military Academy (Kearney, Neb.)
Protestant Church in Nebraska
Prostestant Episcopal Church. Kearney Missionary District
Prostestant Episcopal Church. Laramie Missionary District
Prostestant Episcopal Church. Western Nebraska Missionary District
Sioux Memorial Association

 

L. Willmore/js   09-11-1964
02-02-2010   Revised TMM

 

For additional information about this collection, please contact our Library Staff.


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