Elisha Loomis papers, 1816-1859,-1816-1836 (bulk)
Collection Number: 2275

Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Cornell University Library


Elisha Loomis papers, 1816-1859,-1816-1836 (bulk)
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Collection Number:
Filmed papers consist of four journals (1819-27, 65 ft. microfilm) dealing with Loomis's experiences as an educator and as a Congregational missionary in the Hawaiian Islands.
Loomis, Elisha, 1799-1836.
.3 cubic feet.
Collection material in English


Printer, linguist, missionary, educator.


Filmed papers consist of four journals (1819-27, 65 ft. microfilm) dealing with Loomis's experiences as a Congregational missionary in the Hawaiian Islands, with his pioneering work in reducing Hawaiian to a written language, printing Hawaiian spelling books, hymnals, and tracts, and teaching native English and Hawaiian, and with religious instruction, sermons, and conversions; contain scattered references to native religion, child-rearing habits, polygamy, and other customs, conflicts between the missionaries and other white men, particularly sailors, and instances of backsliding among both native converts and missionaries; also included are comments on Hiram Bingham, the unofficial leader of the missionary group, Captain Cook, whose death Loomis saw as divine retribution for Cook allowing himself to be treated as a god, and the Society Islands, which he visited on his return to the mainland in 1927.
Original papers (19 ft. microfilm) include ten outlines, essays, and lectures (1831-32) that give Loomis's views on educational theory and methods and contain discussions of school administration, the teaching of the alphabet, arithmetic, geography, and English grammar, natural philosophy, Pestalozzi's system, and good manners; correspondence during his career as a missionary-teacher to the Hawaiians and to the Ojibway Indians and his school in Rushville, Ontario and Yates Counties, New York; letters from Mackinac, Michigan (1830-32), pertaining to his proposed Ojibway alphabet and other subjects; letters (1836) from his brother, Chester, discussing his battle against banking interests in the New York State Legislature, and from his wife, Maria Sartwell Loomis, and others in Rushville and Rochester, New York; and a journal (1 vol., 1816-[1935-36]-1845) concerning his family's life in Rushville, with later entries made by his wife, fair copies of eighteen letters (1816-17) from Loomis to his cousin, Joseph Webb, two letters (1833) to Henry Howe describing his school in Rushville, two letters (1859) to Chester Loomis from Elisha's son concerning his father's estate, photocopy of an incomplete letter from Loomis (19 pp., 1830) correcting errors in a book about Hawaii published by the American Sunday School Union.


Cite As:

Elisha Loomis papers, #2275. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.


Bingham, Hiram, 1789-1869.
Cook, James.
Loomis, Chester.
Loomis, Maria Sartwell.
Webb, Joseph.
Loomis family.
New York (State). Legislature
Society Islands (French Polynesia) -- Description and travel.
Hawaii -- Religion.
Hawaii -- Social life and customs.
Missionaries -- Hawaii.
Linguistics -- Hawaii.
Indians of North America -- Missions.
Hawaiian language.
Education -- Hawaii.
Chippewa language.
Ojibwa Indians.
Banks and banking -- New York (State)

Scope and Contents
All the material in the collection may not be covered by this guide.
Education papers
Box 1
"Questions on Natural Philosophy"
Box 1
"On the Government of Schools"
Aug. 31, 1831
Box 1
"Lectures on Schoolkeeping, Nos. 1 and 2"
Aug. 14, 1832
Box 1
"On Teaching the Alphabet"
Sept. 6, 1832
Box 1
"Brief Account of Pestalozzi and his system of communicating instruction"
Sept. 13, 1832
Box 1
"On Teaching Arithmetic in Common Schools"
Sept. 14, 1832
Box 1
"On Teaching Geography"
Sept. 21, 1832
Box 1
"On Teaching English Grammar"
Oct. 1832
Box 1
No title - but appears to be on the subject of Good Manners
Oct. 17, 1832
Box 1
"Lecture on the Subject of Education, Indifference manifested"
Journals, 1819-1827
Scope and Contents
Elisha Loomis and his wife were among the first missionaries sent by the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions to begin work in the Sandwich Islands. The Board called for missionaries with varied occupations: the Loomises went as printers. The original company consisted of 17: two missionary couples, two teacher couples, a farmer couple a physician couple, the loomises , and three Hawaiian helpers. The Loomises immediately commenced a thorough study of the language and an acquaintanceship with the natives. Loomis began to prepare primers for publication. He bought a press and several fonts of type from America, but nothing was printed for nearly two years, until Jan. 7, 1822. The first printing house was made of grass; a newer and sturdier one was built in 1823. In 1825, 59,000 copies of tracts were printed in the native language. Loomis returned to America in Jan. 1827 to regain his health. In Rochester, N.Y. he printed and issued the first, second and fourth Gospels in Hawaiian. For two years he was a missionary to Indians at Mackinac, Michigan. He died in 1836. (From an introduction in the microfilm). Journals 1819-1827 (reels 2 & 3)
Box 1
Volume I (original in Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library)
Oct. 23, 1819-1821
Box 1
Volume II (original in Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library)
Box 1
Volume III - also, annotated typescript copy with glossary (original and typed copy in University of Hawaii Library)
1824-Jan. 1826
Box 1
Volume IV (original in Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library)
1826-Oct. 26, 1827
Microfilm Reel 2 (positive)
1819 Journal
Scope and Contents
The journals begin Oct. 23, 1819. Loomis tells of his decision to help the heathen and his departure for the islands. Some description of his voyage is included.
Microfilm Reel 2 (positive)
1820 Journal
Scope and Contents
The missionaries first sight the island, and are told the idols of "Owhybee" are no more. The priesthood and taboos have also been destroyed: the missionaries are overjoyed that this barrier to Christianity has been removed. Although foreigners oppose the missionaries, the King permits them to land, with promises of protection and partial support; Levi Loomis is the first white child born on the islands (July 16); Loomis teaches Scripture to the King and natives; a native member of the missionary group is excommunicated for bad conduct; Loomis prepares alphabets of the Hawaiian language; he begins his school; George Crowninshield's "Cleopatra's Barge" is given to the King and is used to convey the missionaries from island to island; thefts by natives become a problem.
Microfilm Reel 2 (positive)
1821 Journal
Scope and Contents
Some chiefs on the coast request missionaries; the excommunication of Holman, the American doctor-missionary for bad conduct (Jan. 16); Loomis cites the difficulty of translating Owhyhee because there is no interpreter who understands English grammatically; the missionaries fear the Hawaiians will relapse into idolatry because they hold the hoodah hoodah dances, performed on the Sabbath and with idols; Loomis notes Hawaiian children are brought up without discipline; the Loomises build a frame house and begin constructing a new church in the native style; earthquakes are frequent; the dissipation of the foreign traders makes it impossible to curb drinking among the natives; Loomis criticizes the immorality of the white men, who usually live with native women while at the islands; dedication of the new church (Sept. 15); unruly sailors and captain quarrel with the missionaries; chastity is "hardly known", and polygamy is legal though infrequent; the violent antipathy of the white traders to the missionaries: a daughter born (Dec. 24).
Microfilm Reel 2 (positive)
1822 Journal
Scope and Contents
Loomis does the first printing on the islands (Jan. 7); he puts out a spelling book; the King sends a handbill of laws he wishes promulgated for Loomis to print; students are learning to read and spell Hawaiian and English; a second edition of the spelling book is necessary - 12,000 copies; welcome news that many of the Society Islanders are Christianized; Brother Bingham performs the first service in the native language (Aug. 25)
Microfilm Reel 2 (positive)
1823 Notes
Scope and Contents
Only about 2 1/2 pp. of notes for the whole year.
Microfilm Reel 3 (positive)
1824 Journal
Scope and Contents
A visit to the island of Hawaii; an account of the reminiscences of an eyewitness to the death of Captain Cook; a discussion with the chiefs of the wickedness of brother-sister marriages; a visit to a volcano; a list of proper names mentioned in the journal, with their correct pronunciations; a native uprising on Tauai; the printing of a handbill forbidding native females to visit the ships (Nov. 27).
Microfilm Reel 3 (positive)
1825 Journal
Scope and Contents
A new spelling book is commenced; prostitution loses prestige among the native women; because of a law against prostitution, many seamen threaten the missionaries; the general attendance of natives at school and church offends the foreigners; a son and third child is born to the Loomises (Nov. 9); eight natives, most of them high chiefs, are baptized. A typed copy of the Loomis journal (May 17, 1824-Jan. 27, 1826. "Louisa Lewis Clark, Honolulu, Sept. 13, 1927" is handwritten on the journal. On the frontispiece is typed: "originally owned by Dr. William D. Westervelt and placed in University of Hawaii." Compiled by Westervelt, assisted by Emil A. Berndt and Lili P. Berndt, 1937. Also listed is the Loomis Journal Committee of the University of Hawaii, consisting of Carl G. Stroven, Ralph S. Kuykendal, and Andrew W. Lind. Also included are a reproduction of one page from the spelling book issued in 1825 and an index of the names of natives and foreigners. Part of a journal in Hawaiian follows this typescript (Sept. 17, 1823 - ?).
Microfilm Reel 3 (positive)
1826 Journal
Scope and Contents
Loomis finishes 3,000 copies of tracts of the Ten Commandments, Lord's Prayer, and expositions of Baptism and the Lord's Supper (Jan. 30); he begins the first edition of hymns in Hawaiian (10,000) copies; following an attack by the seamen, the prohibition against prostitution is partially lifted; the missionaries consider their lives in danger; Captain Percival of the Dolphin incites a riot; Loomis cites growing success with missionary work: his health is failing; he translates an "article of arrangement: he hopes will be agreed to by the U.S. and Hawaii (Nov. 2); the young King is influenced by hostile foreigners; Loomis cites the dissipations of the royal court.
Microfilm Reel 3 (positive)
1827 Journal
Scope and Contents
Loomis leaves for America on the brig Convoy; he spends a week at the Society Islands, where he finds a great falling-off in religion; brief descriptions of the Society Islands; Loomis reaches Fort McHenry (June 20). Fair copies of letters to the missionaries written on trip back to America, with some description of life and the mission of Society Islands, Feb-May 1827.
Microfilm Reel 3 (positive)
Typed extracts
Scope and Contents
Typed extracts from the journals of Elisha Loomis and his wife Maria T. Sartwell Loomis. A handwritten copy is in the archives of the Hawaiian Board, Honolulu. Nearly all is written after the Loomis' arrival in the Hawaiian Islands. A note reads that the part written by Mrs. Loomis seems to be substantially the same as corresponding parts of the typewritten manuscript Journal of Mrs. Maria Southworth Loomis in the Library of the H.M.C.S., Honolulu." Only about 1 page from Mrs. Loomis; diary is included. The remainder of the extracts, from Mr. Loomis' Journals, can be found in their entirety in the microfilm of the original journals (handwritten) #2275. As the original journals are often somewhat difficult to read, the typescripts may be of great help to researchers. (NOTE: Microfilm note is in error. Mrs. Loomis' maiden name was Sartwell, not Southworth. Per Robert Moody, 3/65.
"Extracts from the journals of E. Loomis and his wife M.T.S. Loomis"
Box 1
50 pp. typescript, includes most of what is included in a handwritten copy of journal in possession of the Archives of the Hawaiian Board, Honolulu. This handwritten copy must have been made from the originals.