Justin Perkins was an educator, missionary, and minister. He was born near Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1805 and graduated from Amherst College in 1829. After graduating, Perkins taught for a year at Amherst Academy, spent two years at Andover Theological Society, spent a year as a tutor at Amherst College, and then returned to Andover Theological Society to complete his theological course. In 1833 he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister, married Charlotte Bass, and was commissioned by the American Board of Missions to work in Persia among the Nestorians. He set up a mission in Oroomiah, Persia, and he and his family stayed with this mission for more than thirty years, taking intermittent visits home. The Justin Perkins Papers collection includes correspondence between Perkins and others in his field, manuscripts of sermons by Perkins, lectures and notes, printed materials such as pamphlets and magazine clippings, and some bound manuscripts – mostly of letters and journals.

photographs of Justin and Charlotte Bass Perkins
Justin Perkins and Charlotte Bass Perkins circa 1862. In Amherst College Archives & Special Collections, Justin Perkins Papers, Box 4, Folder 9.

Though the mission of the College has changed, Amherst College was founded with the goal of providing a liberal education to young men who wanted to go into the Christian ministry. Upon graduating from Amherst, many such men and their families went on to serve as missionaries. We hold extensive documentation of their activities and travel during the 19th and 20th centuries. We chose the Justin Perkins Papers for the Bicentennial Project because it is representative of the missionary history of the College and its alumni. Though we hope to digitize and make available via ACDC this entire collection at some point in the future, we will only be digitizing and describing Series 1 of the collection for the bicentennial project due to time and labor constraints. Series 1 contains the correspondence between Perkins and other missionaries.

Materials in the collection made available in ACDC will be useful for a variety of research interests, such as: the history of missionary work, lives of missionaries, missionaries in Persia/Iran, Nestorians in Persia, and Amherst College alumni in ministry and missions.

This collection is scheduled for digitization and description in Year Two (2019) of our Bicentennial project.

For more information
  • Check out the full collection’s finding aid online. Much of the information in this post can be attributed to the related finding aid.
  • You can also view our technical documentation for this project.
Related Bicentennial collections