Guide to the Records of Somerset County Bible Society 1817-1961 MG 167


Descriptive Summary
Historical Note
Scope and Content Note
Access Points
Related Material
Administrative Information

Container List

Bible Society Records

Guide to the Records of Somerset County Bible Society
MG 167

The New Jersey Historical Society
52 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
(973) 596-8500 x249
© 2004 All rights reserved.
The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by Bob Golon as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Finding aid encoded by Danielle Kovacs. March 2004. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Somerset County Bible Society
Title: Somerset County Bible Society Records
Dates: 1817-1961
Abstract: Consists of record books, letters, pamphlets, certificates, financial information, annual reports, and lists spanning the
years 1817-1961.
Quantity: 17 items
Collection Number: MG 167

Historical Note

Bible Societies were first formed in the early 19th century with the expressed purpose “to give free course to the word of the Lord, that it may run and be glorified … not only by preaching and teaching but also in the written word.” (Rankin, 1892) Their main mission was Bible distribution. The first such society was the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804. Within twelve years, 132 county and state Bible societies were formed in 21 states, with New Jersey having seven of them, one of which being the New Jersey Bible Society, founded by General Elias Boudinot of Burlington County. Boudinot also organized the American Bible Society in 1816.

The Somerset Bible Society was founded during this time of proliferation of Bible societies. On October 1, 1816, the Reverends Peter Studdiford, John Vrendenburgh, Robert Finley and Peter Labagh, along with laymen J. M. Bayard, John Frelinghuysen, and P. Z. Elmendorf met in Somerville, New Jersey in order to draft a constitution for the new organization. They met again in December 1816, and the Society was formally organized. Within one month, the board of managers of the Society appointed agents in each Somerset County township “who should canvas both for funds and for supplying the destitute with Bibles and Testaments.” (Rankin, 1892) The first annual meeting of the Somerset Bible Society was held in Somerville on August 19, 1817, attended by eight ministers and thirty-eight lay people. Reverend Studdiford of Readington was chosen as its first president.
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Scope and Content Note

The collection documents the activities of the Somerset County Bible Society, and consists of record books, letters, pamphlets, certificates, and lists spanning the years 1817-1915. The record books contain membership lists, meetings notes, and the Society’s rules and bylaws.

The record book dating from 1817-1867 contains a copy of the Society’s constitution; a yearly membership list for the years 1817-1831; notes from annual meetings from 1817-1851, including an original draft of the Society’s rules and bylaws written in 1817; and a list of the Society’s Presidents, Preachers, and Orators.

The record book dating from 1871-1891 contains notes from annual meeting, with a copy of the Society’s regulations, a list of annual meeting locations, and a list of the Preachers or Orators for each meeting.

The record book dating from 1852-1870 consists of notes from annual meeting for those years.

The record book entitled “Minutes of the Executive Committee of the Somerset County Bible Society” contains meeting minutes from September 10, 1891 through September 20, 1915. These meetings occurred at irregular intervals. The last page of this volume contains a list of U.S. Bond numbers deposited in the First National Bank of Somerville as of July 17, 1893.

The remainder of the collection consists of letters, lists, and pamphlets. An envelope that was donated to the Bible Society from Nicholas Williamson of Hillsborough Township, contains a pamphlet of a speech by Frederick Frelinghuysen to the annual meeting of the Society on August 21, 1820. Another pamphlet contains the forty-fourth annual report of the Somerset County Sunday School Association from 1903 and the Annual Report of the Executive Committee of the Somerset County Bible Society, 1899-1900. Letters include an incoming letter from A. S. Hunt of the American Bible Society in New York and a letter to Y. J. Frelinghuysen, the Superintendent of Public Instruction from Gustavus A. Moore, inquiring about a teaching position. Lists include a report of the contents of the Society’s depository collection from August 14, 1866, a list of Somerset County teachers, and an agenda for a Society meeting from 1845. There are certificates, both undated, containing details of some decisions and proclamations made during Society meetings. The collection also contains a fragment of a speech dedicating a facility.

As a result of a later acquisition (located in boxes 2 & 3), additional items were added to this collection including daybooks, cashbooks, annual reports, banking items and meeting minutes spanning from the years 1917-1961.
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Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.

Use Restrictions

Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

The New Jersey Historical Society complies with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), which
governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials.

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Access Points

The entries below represent persons, organizations, topics, forms, and occupations documented in this collection.
Subject Names:
Bayard, M.M.
Boudinot, Elias, 1740-1821.
Elmendorf, P. Z.
Finley, Robert, 1772-1817.
Frelinghuysen, Frederick J.
Frelinghuysen, John, 1776-1833.
Labagh, Peter.
Rankin, John C. (John Chambers), 1816-1900.
Studdiford, Peter, 1763-1826.
Vredenburgh, John.
Subject Organizations:
American Bible Society.
Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church (N.J.)
Somerset County Bible Society (N.J.)
Somerset County Sunday School Association (N.J.)
Subject Topics:
Bible–Production and distribution–Societies, etc.
Church–New Jersey.
Clergy–New Jersey.
Subject Places:
Basking Ridge (N.J.)
Readington (N.J.)
Somerset County (N.J.)
Somerville (N.J.)
Document Types:
Letters (correspondence)

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Related Material

For related material, see:

Manuscript Group 380, Frelinghuysen Family Papers

Manuscript Group 633, Elisha Boudinot Family Papers

Manuscript Group 1221, Annis Boudinot Stockton Copybook

Manuscript Group 1411, Elias Boudinot Stockton Genealogy Collection

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 167, Somerset County Bible Society Records, The New Jersey Historical

Acquisition Information

Box 1, gift of the Somerset County Bible Society, 1932. Boxes 2 and 3, Gift of Jessie Havens, 2006.

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Snell, James P. History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, New Jersey. Philadelphia: Everts and Peck, 1881.

Rankin, John C., D. D. Historical Address Before the Somerset County Bible Society. Somerville, N. J.: The Unionist-Gazette Print, 1892.

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Container List

Bible Society Records

Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Record book 1817-1867
1 2 Record book 1871-1891
1 3 Record book 1852-1870
1 4 Record book 1891-1915
1 5 Pamphlets (4) 1820-1900
1 6 Incoming letters (2) 1871, 1889
1 7 Lists (4) 1845-1910
1 8 Certificates (2) undated
1 9 Proclamation (fragment) undated
Box Folder Title Date
2 1 Cashbook 1946
2 2 Daybook 1959
2 3 Banking Material 1958-1960
Box Folder Title Date
3 1 Annual Reports 1919-1958
3 2 Miscellaneous 1947-1961
3 3 Account Book n.d.
3 4 Minutes 1927-1949
3 5 Executive Committee 1917-1930
3 6 Minute Book 1950-1960

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