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Haystack Celebration Collection

Identifier: MC-27

Scope and Contents

The Haystack Celebration Collection consists of correspondence, publications, programs, publications, ephemera, photographs, news clippings, and miscellaneous materials, all dealing with the anniversary celebrations of the Haystack Meeting.


  • 1815 - 2007

Conditions Governing Access

The Haystack Celebration Collection is open for research. Researchers are encouraged to contact Special Collections staff prior to a visit.

Conditions Governing Use

In consultation with Special Collections staff, reproductions may be made upon request. Please consult with staff regarding questions about publishing materials from Williams Special Collections. Researchers are responsible for handling any copyright issues that may be associated with collections and materials.

Historical note

In the summer of 1806, in what was then known as Sloan's Meadow, five students discussed and debated the missionary service. Their meeting was suddenly interrupted by a thunderstorm and the students: Samuel J. Mills, James Richards, Francis L. Robbins, Harvey Loomis, and Byram Green took shelter under a haystack until the sky cleared. "The brevity of the shower, the strangeness of the place of refuge, and the peculiarity of their topic of prayer and conference all took hold of their imaginations and their memories." (Perry, 359.) The story of the meeting spread outside of Williamstown and was exaggerated over time, although few locals knew anything about it. Inquiries to the college about the meeting went unanswered until Byram Green returned to Williamstown in the spring of 1854. He pointed out the meeting site to Professors Hopkins and Perry, described the discussion that had taken place, and a monument was erected there in 1867 in honor of the five men. As well as being the first documented resolution ever made by Americans to begin foreign missionary work, the 1806 Haystack meeting has been credited with leading to the formation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions gave students an opportunity to go abroad and spread the teachings of Christianity, and later evolving into the United Church Board for World Ministries, which still exists today.

Important dates in the Haystack Meeting history

Original meeting at Sloan's Meadow.
Samuel Mills forms The Brethren, a secret fraternity dedicated to spread his message about the missionary service. Some members of the Brethren would later go on to the Andover Theological Seminary, and eventually form the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
Green returns, describes original meeting and points out the site of the haystack. Society of Alumni and the Board of Trustees pass resolution to purchase Sloan's Meadow and rename it "Mission Park or Grounds."
Semi-centennial of the Haystack Meeting celebrated.
Marble monument erected and dedicated on the site of the meeting, donated by the Honorable Harvey Rice, Class of 1824.
Centennial of the meeting celebrated in Williamstown and North Adams.
157th Annual Meeting of the ABCFM and Sesquicentennial celebrated in Williamstown.
175th Anniversary of the meeting celebrated in Williamstown.
200th Anniversary of the meeting celebrated in Williamstown.


2.75 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials



Organized into two series: I. Haystack Celebrations and II. Haystack Bicentennial.

Physical Location

L2 Storage, F5b

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Haystack Bicentennial material: Gift of Joan Vander Vliet (Committee Coordinator), March 2010. Remaining material: source unknown.

Related Materials

A bibliography and list of related materials is included in the paper accession file for this collection.

Processing Information

Processed by Lily Oei, July 1992.
Haystack Celebration Collection
Nash, Katie
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Williams College Archives & Special Collections Repository

Sawyer Library
26 Hopkins Hall Drive
Williamstown, MA 01267