The past few days I have been preparing the scans from the microfilm of the Samson Occom papers so I can publish them in Connecticut History Online. This is another of the collections we are getting online with funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. I have already blogged about the Wolcott papers, which are only about half done.
Occom is a significant person in the history of Connecticut and indeed America as a whole. He was of the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut. Influenced by the Great Awakening and the preaching of Reverend John Davenport, Occom adopted the Christian religion, and from 1743 to 1747 was a pupil of Reverend Eleazar Wheelock of Lebanon, Connecticut. In 1749 he became schoolmaster and minister to the Montauk tribe on eastern Long Island.
Ordained by the Presbytery of Long Island despite his lack of theological training, he also preached among the Oneida Indians in New York. In 1766 he took a trip to England to raise funds for an Indian Charity School. Occom was also the catalyst for Brothertown, an Indian community in New York State.
Occom’s papers are among the most heavily used here at CHS, and they are very fragile. Dartmouth College also has a collection of papers that have been published online. We are thrilled to have our holdings join those of Dartmouth to provide wider access to a truly fascinating body of material about Native Americans in the 18th century.