This collection contains notes and letters of bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States who contributed to an Episcopal Theological Seminary project to collect examples of the handwriting of as many bishops as possible. Their replies were addressed to Bp. William Lawrence, Bp. W. Appleton Chambers, and others, or to librarians of the Episcopal Theological Seminary.
These replies were then mounted in scrapbooks. The replies of a few bishops were supplemented by printed photographs of them. Notations added to the pages of the scrapbooks include the diocese that the bishop served and the dates of his office, whether a suffragan (suffr.) or a bishop coadjutor (coadj.).
The scrapbooks were subsequently torn apart by a dealer who sold them state by state. This collection contains the Illinois pages, acquired by the Library in 2005. Most of the collection dates from about 1903 to 1963. There are also a few earlier signatures, including those of Bps. Whitehouse and McLaren, and two letters from more recent bishops.
Although most bishops submitted only a short signed note, others wrote letters, some of which discussed the work of the church, sermons, or other bishops past and present. George F. Seymour recommended a young fellow priest, stated that "schism is a possible crime," and asked why some bishops had dropped the word "Protestant" from their title. Albert Chambers briefly described his diocese (Springfield) and alluded to the work at the many colleges in it. F. W. Taylor discussed the Athanasian Creed. John Chanler White related the history of his home parish (est. 1712) in Beaufort, South Carolina, and noted that the original contract for sale of Abraham Lincoln's home in Springfield came into his possession through his wife, the granddaughter of the Rev. Charles Dresser who had married the Lincolns and sold them his house.