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Marcus Whitman letters to Alanson Hinman

 Collection — Folder: MS File Box 2
Identifier: MS-69

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of three original letters from Marcus Whitman to Alanson Hinman dating from October and November, 1847. They are among the last extant letters written by Whitman before his death on November 29. Notable topics in the letters include the presence of measles at the Wailatpu Mission; the procurement of supplies; paying the Indians for labor; schools for white children; and the dangers of river travel. The original letters are accompanied by typed transcripts and photocopies.


  • 1847


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Pacific University owns the copyright to some, but not all, of the materials housed in its archives. Copyright for materials authored or otherwise produced as official business of Pacific University is retained by Pacific University and requires its permission for publication. Copyright status for other collection materials varies. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Historical Note

Marcus Whitman was a missionary in the Oregon Territory who was killed by Cayuse Indians on November 29, 1847. He and his wife, Narcissa, had arrived in the Cayuse / Nez Perce lands in 1836, near what is now Walla Walla, Washington. There they set up a mission, which was named Waiilatpu, and attempted to convert the Cayuse peoples to protestant Christianity. When a measles epidemic hit in late 1847, many of the whites and Cayuse in the area became sick. A large number of Cayuse, including most of their children who contracted the disease, died; most of the whites recovered. The Cayuse believed that the Whitmans were responsible for the deaths. This led to several Cayuse, including the chief Tiloukaikt, killing the Whitmans along with 12 other whites at the mission. Later called the "Whitman Massacre," this event precipitated the Cayuse War.

The Whitman Mission at Waiilatpu had served as a kind of hub for other white settlers, who were arriving in increasing numbers in the 1840s. One of the Whitmans' friends was Alanson Hinman, who had immigrated to the Oregon Territory in 1844. Hinman taught school at the mission before moving on the Willamette Valley. He eventually settled in Forest Grove, Oregon, where he became a founder and trustee of Pacific University.


1 folders (1 folder)

Language of Materials



Marcus Whitman was a missionary in the Oregon Territory who was killed by Cayuse Indians in 1847. These letters, sent to his friend Alanson Hinman, shed light on conditions at the mission in the weeks before his death.


Housed in MS File Box 2.
Guide to the Marcus Whitman letters to Alanson Hinman
Eva Guggemos
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Sponsored by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission

Repository Details

Part of the Pacific University Archives Repository

2043 College Way
Forest Grove OR 97116 United States