William E. Barton Collection of Samaritan Materials

WILLIAM ELEAZAR BARTON. Clergyman, Samaritan scholar.  Born June 28, 1861, in Sublette, IL; died Dec. 7, 1930 in Foxboro, MA. Attended Berea College, BS 1885, MS 1888, AM 1890, and Oberlin Theological Seminary, BD 1890.  Congregational minister (1885-) serving primarily in Oak Park, IL ( 1899-1924). Associate editor of Bibliotheca Sacra, editor of The Advance. Maintained a lively interest in and correspondence with the Samaritans of Nablus from 1903 until 1926.  During this period, Barton published several articles on the Samaritans in popular and scholarly American journals, and also edited and published a number of essays concerning the sect written by the Samaritan High Priest Jacob (1841-1916). Concern for the financial state of the Samaritan community led Barton to become involved in a humanitarian project for their benefit—an ambitious but ill-fated venture known as the American Samaritan Committee—in part funded by E.K. Warren, an millionaire from Three Oaks, MI.

Scope and Content. The Barton Collection contains materials accumulated during a quarter century (1903-1926) of personal contact with the Samaritans, including correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and scrolls.  Primary material consists of nineteen scrolls, including two Pentateuchal scrolls of early twentieth century vintage, the original and unpublished Arabic texts of Priest Jacob on the history and thought of the sect, five small modern codices of parts of the Samaritan Pentateuch, two Samaritan prayer books, an Arabic treatise by Priest Isaac on Jacob’s Well, and untranslated autobiography of Jacob in Arabic, two copies of the Samaritan Book of Joshua in Arabic, one of which has a commentary in Samaritan Hebrew, and a copy of Abu’l Fath.  The photographs include forty-three prints of the Abisa scroll from a 1919 filming, discredited at the time, but verified as authentic after re-photographing by Perez Castro in the 1950s, and other photographs or glass slides of the Samaritans.  Personal letters reveal his contacts with the Samaritans and dealers through whom he obtained the scrolls and other materials.  Also contains about 150 letters by or about the American Samaritan Committee.

Extent: 7 cu. ft.

Access: No access restrictions.
Limitations: No limitations.
Provenance: Gift, 1953; transferred to Theology Library, March 2000.
Cite as: Barton Samaritan Collection, Boston University School of Theology Library.

Processing: Stephen P. Pentek, July 2000.

Arrangement: Arranged by format in five series: I. Manuscripts, including scrolls and other texts;  II. Correspondence of WEB and the American Samaritan Committee; III. Printed materials by Jacob, Son of Aaron, Barton, and others;  IV. Photographs and slides; and V. Miscellaneous items.

Click here to see further description of Series 1-5.

Series I.  Manuscripts

  • Scrolls (Hebrew)
  • Hebrew or Samaritan Texts
  • Sanskrit Texts
  • Arabic Texts
  • English Texts
Series II.  Correspondence

  • Personal letters
  • Letters to/from antique dealers
  • American Samaritan Committee correspondence
  • Correspondence with publishers
  • Correspondence with Jacob, Son of Aaron

Series III.  Printed Material

  • By Jacob, Son of Aaron, and/or WEB
  • By others
  • Programs and Advertisements

Series IV.  Photographs

  • Abisha Scroll
  • Black and White Photographs
  • Glass Slides

Series V.  Other items