Special collections reading rooms are currently open to Emory University students, faculty, and staff by appointment. Non-Emory-affiliated researcher access may be limited until January 31, 2022 in some repositories.

For assistance, please contact us at rose.library@emory.edu or 404-727-6887.

James Warrington papers, 1886-1901

Emory University

Pitts Theology Library

1531 Dickey Drive, Suite 560

Atlanta, GA 30322


Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/rh3xt

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Warrington, James, 1841-1915.
Title: James Warrington papers, 1886-1901
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 395
Extent: 5.10 cubic ft. (8 boxes)
Abstract:Consists of the correspondence, and catalogs of hymns and hymnals by James Warrington.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on the content of this collection, although due to preservation concerns, reproductions may be supplied in place of original documents.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


[after identification of item(s)], James Warrington papers, Archives and Manuscript Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.


Processed by Brandon Wason and Paul DeGeorge, 2015.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

James Warrington was born in Colchester, England in 1841 and died in Philadelphia on October 3, 1915 at age 74. He was an Episcopalian and actively engaged in hymnal collections and revisions. He had immigrated to America by at least the year 1869. In 1883, at age 42, he married 26-year-old Mary Johnson Thompson in Philadelphia. They had one son who died at age eleven.

Much of his 74 years was filled with a passion for collecting church music and annotating the history of hymn books and psalters of the English-speaking churches. He collected and made notations of thousands of tunes, and by 1905 the number reached an astounding 150,000 tunes. His correspondence confirms that he resided in Philadelphia at 203 Walnut Place. Warrington conducted his correspondence from his office as stated in an April 1898 letter to C. J. Heppe and Sons: "As I conduct all my correspondence from my office may I request that you will address your future communications there instead to my residence." The correspondence also indicates that he purchased an Aeolian organ for his own use from Heppe and Sons for the very large sum of $500, and paid via installments. Although he once played, his stiff hands relegated him to listening to a mechanical organ. Warrington was not an ordained minister or a publisher and did not have a degree in theology, music or a related field. He was a professional accountant by trade. A letter dated to April of 1899 employs the official letterhead, "The National Bureau of Accounting, No. 203 Walnut Place – Principal James Warrington, Public Accountant; Lecturer on Accounts at the University of Pennsylvania; Member of a Commission to simplify Post Office Accounts, etc." This, therefore, demonstrates James Warrington's means of support to finance his ever growing collection.

A letter from Warrington to Mr. G. Hedeler in October 26, 1896 clearly states the nature and goal of his passionate avocation in life:

"My collection numbers between two and three thousand volumes and has been made with a view to compiling a history of Psalmody among English speaking peoples. I only touch other books if they illustrate or through [sic] any light upon my subject. My collection comprises Psalters, Tune books, Sermons and Essays upon all subjects connected with it and it is increasing almost every day. In addition to the books I own I follow up my subject in a way few collectors do. If I borrow a book which has any historical value I make (on sheets prepared for the purpose) a line for line copy of the title page, a list of all the tunes in the book and if the preface is of value a full copy of that and a copy of any tune or notes that may be especially valuable and then make annotations of my own so that before I return the book to its owner I have in my possession all of the book which is of any value. I have done in this way about three hundred books which are not often met with. My catalogue is made on slips of paper like the enclosed and I use different colors to show when I possess the book, when I have seen the book and when I have made skeleton of the book. In this way I have embraced in my catalogue fifteen to twenty thousand titles and in cases where I have not seen the book I mark on the slip the source from which I gain the title. Beside this I have an alphabetical index of about fifteen thousand tunes and showing when and how the tunes first appeared. I am now preparing and hope to have ready by next spring a catalogue of books on this subject and shall hope to print it." [box 1, folder 11]

During his lifetime, Warrington's personal library became legendary. In 1899, he sold his collection to Hartford Seminary in Connecticut with the agreement that it would remain in his possession for five years while he continued work on his catalog. After the five years, Warrington resisted, but Hartford Seminary was successful in bringing his collection to their library. This library was eventually acquired by Pitts Theology Library when it purchased the Hartford collection in 1975. A second Warrington collection resides at the Barbour Library at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains Warrington's correspondence that spans from 1886 to 1901. Most of his correspondence relates to loans or acquisitions of hymnals for his catalog and thus he corresponded with librarians, book dealers, publishers and other private collectors. The correspondence also sheds light on the person of James Warrington and his passion for collecting. Some of the notable people and organizations that Warrington communicated with include: American Catholic Historical Researches, Philadelphia; B. D. & H. P. Maggs, Maggs Bros., Antiquarian Booksellers, Paddington, London; Charles Higham, Bookseller, London; Connecticut State Library; Francis P. Harper Scarce and Out-of-Print Books, New York City; Hern G. Hedeler, Bookseller, Leipzig; Houghton Mifflin Publishers, Boston; John J. Hood Publisher, Philadelphia; Library of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Library of Victoria University, Ontario, Canada; Massachusetts Historical Society; Pennsylvania Library Club, Washington, DC; Trinity Chapel, New York City; Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut; Union Theological Seminary, New York City; and Weslyan University, Middletown, Connecticut.

The remainder of the collection relates to Warrington's efforts to catalog hymns, hymnbooks, and psalmody. There is a bound manuscript volume with the title "Two Centuries of Psalmnody in the United States (1620-1820)." This volume correlates to the self-published work, Short titles of books relating to or illustrating the history and practice of psalmody in the United States, 1620-1820 (Philadelphia, 1898), although the data recorded in the manuscript volume extends beyond those dates. Warrington's catalog of hymnals are individual records of hymnals that he had indexed. These were left in the original (unsorted) order in which we received them. Warrington also maintained an index of hymns organized by their first line, and a smaller collection of sheet music of hymns.

This collection should be of particular interest to researchers interested in the cataloging of hymns, hymnals, and psalmody, as well as the life of James Warrington, the well-known hymn collector and cataloger of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Container List

Box Folder Content
1 1 Correspondence, 1886
1 2 Correspondence, 1887
1 3 Correspondence, 1888
1 4 Correspondence, 1889
1 5 Correspondence, 1890
1 6 Correspondence, 1891
1 7 Correspondence, 1892
1 8 Correspondence, 1893
1 9 Correspondence, 1894
1 10 Correspondence, 1895
1 11 Correspondence (1 of 3), 1896
2 1 Correspondence (2 of 3), 1896
2 2 Correspondence (3 of 3), 1896
2 3 Correspondence (1 of 3), 1897
2 4 Correspondence (2 of 3), 1897
2 5 Correspondence (3 of 3), 1897
2 6 Correspondence (1 of 2), 1898
3 1 Correspondence (2 of 2), 1898
3 2 Correspondence (1 of 2), 1899
3 3 Correspondence (2 of 2), 1899
3 4 Correspondence, 1900
3 5 Correspondence, 1901
3 6 Correspondence, undated
4 1 Oversize correspondence, undated
Chronological Index of Psalmnody
4 2 Bound manuscript: "Two Centuries of Psalmnody in the United States (1620-1820)," 1523-1897
Catalog of Hymnals
5 1 Hymnal Catalog, Part 1
5 2 Hymnal Catalog, Part 2
5 3 Hymnal Catalog, Part 3
5 4 Hymnal Catalog, Part 4
5 5 Hymnal Catalog, Part 5
5 6 Hymnal Catalog, Part 6
5 7 Hymnal Catalog, Part 7
5 8 Hymnal Catalog, Part 8
5 9 Hymnal Catalog, Part 9
5 10 Hymnal Catalog, Part 10
5 11 Hymnal Catalog, Part 11
5 12 Hymnal Catalog, Part 12
5 13 Hymnal Catalog, Part 13
5 14 Hymnal Catalog, Part 14
5 15 Hymnal Catalog, Part 15
5 16 Hymnal Catalog, Part 16
5 17 Hymnal Catalog, Part 17
5 18 Hymnal Catalog, Part 18
6 1 Hymnal Catalog, Part 19
6 2 Hymnal Catalog, Part 20
6 3 Hymnal Catalog, Part 21
6 4 Hymnal Catalog, Part 22
6 5 Hymnal Catalog, Part 23
6 6 Hymnal Catalog, Part 24
6 7 Hymnal Catalog, Part 25
6 8 Hymnal Catalog, Part 26
6 9 Hymnal Catalog, Part 27
6 10 Hymnal Catalog, Part 28
6 11 Hymnal Catalog, Part 29
6 12 Hymnal Catalog, Part 30
6 13 Hymnal Catalog, Part 31
6 14 Hymnal Catalog, Part 32
6 15 Hymnal Catalog, Part 33
6 16 Hymnal Catalog, Part 34
6 17 Hymnal Catalog, Part 35
6 18 Hymnal Catalog, Part 36
7 1 Hymnal Catalog, Part 37
7 2 Hymnal Catalog, Part 38
7 3 Hymnal Catalog, Part 39
7 4 Hymnal Catalog, Part 40
7 5 Hymnal Catalog, Part 41
7 6 Hymnal Catalog, Part 42
7 7 Hymnal Catalog, Part 43
7 8 Hymnal Catalog, Part 44
7 9 Hymnal Catalog, Part 45
7 10 Hymnal Catalog, Part 46
7 11 Hymnal Catalog, Part 47
7 12 Hymnal Catalog, Part 48
7 13 Hymnal Catalog, Part 49
Catalog of the First Line of Hymnals
7 14 Hymns, First Line Catalog - A
7 15 Hymns, First Line Catalog - B
7 16 Hymns, First Line Catalog - C
7 17 Hymns, First Line Catalog - D
7 18 Hymns, First Line Catalog - E
7 19 Hymns, First Line Catalog - F
7 20 Hymns, First Line Catalog - G
7 21 Hymns, First Line Catalog - H
7 22 Hymns, First Line Catalog - J
7 23 Hymns, First Line Catalog - K
7 24 Hymns, First Line Catalog - L
8 1 Hymns, First Line Catalog - M
8 2 Hymns, First Line Catalog - N
8 3 Hymns, First Line Catalog - O
8 4 Hymns, First Line Catalog - P
8 5 Hymns, First Line Catalog - S
8 6 Hymns, First Line Catalog - T (1 of 2)
8 7 Hymns, First Line Catalog - T (2 of 2)
Sheet Music of Hymns
3 7 Sheet Music of Hymns, part 1
3 8 Sheet Music of Hymns, part 2
3 9 Sheet Music of Hymns, part 3