Guide to the Marquis Lafayette Wood Records and Papers, 1852 - 1984


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.

Collection Details

Record Group
Marquis Lafayette Wood records and papers
1852 - 1984
Wood, Marquis Lafayette, 1829-1893
2.5 Linear Feet, 500 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Collection Overview

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.

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How to Cite

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

Contents of the Collection

1. Diaries, 1856-1885

The Diaries series contains 21 diaries kept by Wood for the years 1856 to 1885. The journals dating from 1859 to 1866 reflect the the years Wood served as a missionary in China. Diary entries relate Wood's voyage to China, his observations on life and customs in China and on the Tai-Ping Rebellion, and the illness and death of his wife Ellen, who accompanied him to China.

Diaries from 1883 through 1885 provide some information on Trinity College in Randolph County, N.C. during Wood's tenure as president of the College. The journal from 1885 contains one entry describing Wood's resignation.

The remaining diaries detail Wood's career as an itinerant pastor, missionary, and presiding elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

([3 volumes])
Box 1
Folder 1
Box 1
Folder 2
Box 1
Folder 3
Box 1
Folder 4
Box 1
Folder 5
Box 1
Folder 6
Box 1
Folder 7
Box 2
Folder 8
April 1866-1870
([2 volumes])
Box 2
Folder 9
([2 volumes])
Box 2
Folder 10
([2 volumes])
Box 2
Folder 11
([2 volumes])
Box 2
Folder 12
Box 2
Folder 13
([2 volumes])
Box 2
Folder 14

2. Volumes, 1889-1892 and undated

The Volumes series consists of 4 bound volumes related to Wood's work in the Methodist Church and his writing on the history of the Church.

Pastor's Visiting Book [Rockingham Station, NC], 1889
Box 3
Folder 15
Presiding Elder's Minutes [Rockingham District, N.C.], 1892
Box 3
Outline, "History of the Christian Church," 1891
Box 3
Folder 16
Account book, 1892
Box 3
Notebook [John Lee's grave and other biographical notes], no date
Box 3
Folder 17

3. Subject Files, 1859-1892, 1981-1984, and undated

Subject files include correspondence, writings, financial papers, Trinity College (Randolph County, N.C.) materials, and printed matter. Modern materials, such as Wood family genealogies and biographies, were added to this series as well.

Letters, 1886 and 1892; Poem, Uncle Sam's Birthday, no date
Box 3
Folder 18
Journal of correspondence, 1865-1878
Box 3
Folder 19
History of Methodism notes, compiled ca. 1876
Box 3
Folder 20
Correspondence and financial papers, 1859-1892
Box 3
Folder 21
Trinity College records, 1883-1884
Box 3
Folder 22
Broadside and other printed matter, 1887-1888 and no date
Box 3
Folder 23
Wood biographical and genealogical material, ca. 1884-1932
Box 3
Folder 24
Wood family genealogy, compiled by Russell Wood, 1981-1984
Box 3
Folder 25
Wood family genealogy; Account of Rev. Jesse Lee, no date
Box 3
Folder 26
Writings on the history of Methodism in North Carolina, 1876-1892
Box 3
Folder 27
Notebook on metaphysics, ca. 1855
Box 3
Folder 28

4. Sermons and addresses, 1869, 1887 and undated

The Sermons and Addresses series contains a few titled sermons and addresses and hundreds of short sermon passages. The majority of these brief writings are undated and untitled, though many begin with a series of Bible verses.

The Aim of Life [Address to Trinity College alumni], 1869
Box 4
Folder 29
Influence of the Reformation upon Popular Education, undated
Box 4
Folder 30
Is it Probable that China Will be Christianized Without a Revolution? undated
Box 4
Folder 31
The Work to be Done, 1887
Box 4
Folder 32
Sermons, untitled and undated
([roughly 250 short sermons in 4 folders])
Box 4
Folder 33-36
Sermons and addresses, no date
Box 4
Folder 37
Miscellaneous sermons, writings, and notes, no date
Box 4
Folder 38

Historical Note

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.

Related Material

  • [Forms part of:] Duke University President Records. (University Archives, Duke University.)
  • Martha Foster Crawford Diaries. (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.)

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


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