Marquis Lafayette Wood records and papers, 1852 - 1984

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Wood, Marquis Lafayette, 1829-1893
Marquis Lafayette Wood was a Methodist clergyman, missionary, and educator. He served as President of Trinity College (Randolph County, N.C.) from 1883 to 1884. The Marquis Lafayette Wood Records and Papers primarily consist of diaries, sermons and addresses, with a small amount of correspondence, minutes, account books, and writings. Modern materials, such as Wood family genealogies and biographies, were added to the collection as well. Major subjects of the collection include Trinity College during the mid 1880s and Wood's career as a minister in North Carolina and as a missionary in China during the early 1860s. Materials range in date from 1852-1984 (bulk 1855-1892). English.
2.5 Linear Feet
500 Items
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
03 -- Presidents
03 -- Presidents > 52 -- Marquis Lafayette Wood


Scope and content:

The papers of Marquis Lafayette Wood form part of the records of the President of Duke University. Wood's papers span the years 1852-1984, with the bulk occurring between 1855 and 1892. Included are diaries, correspondence, minutes, account books, writings, sermons and addresses, and other materials. The materials are useful for the study of Trinity College during the mid 1880s. Minutes from the college trustee meetings held in 1883-1884, accounts, and correspondence form the official records of Wood's presidency. Letters concerning the federal support and enrollment of Cherokee Indians at Trinity are of particular interest. Wood's diaries from 1883 and 1884 provide limited information on Trinity College.

Wood's ministerial career is the major subject documented in the collection. The diaries span the years 1856-1885; sermons correspondence, and miscellaneous volumes supplement the account of Wood's service that is reflected in the diaries. Diary entries portray Wood's life as an itinerant pastor, missionary, and presiding elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The papers portray Wood's life as well as provide information on a number of western North Carolina churches, including those in the Salisbury District, Iredell District, Surry Circuit, the Greensboro District, and the Charlotte District.

Of particular significance are the diaries and letters that date from 1860 to 1866, the years Wood served in China. Beginning in 1859, the diaries relate Wood's voyage to China, his observations on life and customs in China, and his views of the Chinese. Ellen (Morphis), Wood's wife, became ill while in China and died. Wood noted both her symptoms and attempted treatments in his diary. The diaries from the period also reflect Wood's observations on the Tai-Ping Rebellion. Other papers concerning Wood's service in China include synopses of letters Wood wrote to E.W. Sehon of the Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church, South.

In addition to serving as minister, Wood was interested in the history of North Carolina Methodism. Wood collected and penned accounts of early western North Carolina churches and ministers. His manuscripts on Sunday School work in the Fayetteville District and the rise of Methodism in the Yadkin Valley are among the extant notes, letters, and volumes.

Other figures and subjects reflected in the papers include Charles Force Deems, Methodist minister, Wood family genealogy, and Wood's lifelong loyalty to Trinity College. An address by Wood to the Trinity College alumni association is present.

Biographical / historical:

Born 23 Oct. 1829, Randolph Co. N.C. Wood was a clergyman in the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Educated at Normal College (Randolph Co., N.C.), receiving his A.B. in 1855. He was a missionary in Shanghai, China from 1860-1866, and served as President of Trinity College (Randolph, Co., N.C.) in 1883-1884. Died in Gibson, N.C., 25 Nov. 1893.

When Braxton Craven died in 1882, the Trustees turned to Marquis Lafayette Wood (1829-1893). Although he served as president only a year-and-a-half, his leadership proved critical during the period following Craven's death. A minister and Craven's close friend, Wood was a graduate of the school--the only president who was an alumnus in Duke's history. He worked diligently for the college, was the first president to raise money for endowment, and remained on the Board of Trustees the rest of his life, even submitting the resolution in 1889 to move the college from his beloved native Randolph County to Durham, N.C. His one-sentence definition of the college presidency was that "All great enterprises require time and patience and labor and suffering and money." After Wood left in 1884, the college was run for three years by a Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Acquisition information:
The Marquis Lafayette Wood Records and Papers was received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1974.
Processing information:

Processed by University Archives staff

Completed 1996

Encoded by Jill Katte, October 2003

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult University Archives, Duke University.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Marquis Lafayette Wood Records and Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.