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Oliver Hart papers

Identifier: SCL-MS-3313

The papers of the Reverend Oliver Hart (1723-1795) span the years 1741 to 1795 and include correspondence, diaries, and sermon notes from colonial and Revolutionary periods in Charleston, S.C. The collection is arranged chronologically in the following series: correspondence and miscellaneous papers; journals and diaries; photographs; publications; and sermons and sermon notes.

While there are some early letters to his father, the bulk of correspondence is from Oliver Hart to his brother, Col. Joseph Hart of Bucks County, Pa., relaying news from Charleston, S.C., during the Revolutionary War. After leaving Charleston in 1780, Hart received a few letters from his wife describing conditions in the area. Ten volumes of diaries and journals detail diverse events in Hart's life, including a violent storm in Charleston harbor in 1761, travels in Virginia and North Carolina, and his tour of the South Carolina backcountry during the initial months of the American Revolution. Throughout his journals, Hart records weather observations and the scriptural citations upon which his sermons were based. Moreover, among these papers is a listing of sermons notes, scriptural citations, and dates delivered circa Oct. 1754-Sept. 1768.


  • 1961 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1741 - 1795


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

All rights reside with creator. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact The South Caroliniana Library.


230 items

Biographical Note

Born 5 Nov. 1723 in Warminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Oliver Hart was baptized on 3 Apr. 1741 at the local Southampton Baptist Meeting House. At the annual meeting of the Philadelphia Baptist Association in September of 1749 a letter was read appealing for ministers for the colony of South Carolina. He determined to offer his services and was ordained the following month. On 13 Nov. 1749, he embarked from Philadelphia and arrived at Charleston, S.C., on 2 Dec. 1749, the same day the last Baptist minister in the colony was being buried. Hart accepted the pastorate of the Baptist congregation in Charleston on 16 Feb. 1750.

During his pastorate, Hart became a leader to his congregation and for Baptists in the entire region. The benefits of the Philadelphia Association were intimately familiar to him, and he soon began planning a similar organization in South Carolina. The first meeting of the Charleston Association, with four participating churches, was held in Charleston on 21 Oct. 1751. Early in 1754 a Religious Society, sponsored by the Association, was formed by Hart, to gather funds for training ministerial students.

Late in the summer of 1775, Hart, an active patriot, joined a commission sent by the South Carolina Council of Safety to tour the backcountry in an attempt to persuade disaffected residents to join the patriot cause. However, in Feb. 1780, Hart fled Charleston before the invading British forces, never to return. The following October Hart accepted the invitation of the pastorate at the Baptist church in Hopewell, New Jersey, and remained there until his death, 31 Dec. 1795.

Hart was twice married: first to Sarah Brees on 25 Feb. 1747/48, and, following her death, to Anne Maria (Sealey) Grimball on 5 Apr. 1774. Four children from his first marriage and one by his second lived to adulthood.

Series List

Series I: Correspondence and Miscellaneous, Sept. 1755 - 5 Nov. 1795

Series II: Journals and Diaries, 1741 - 1789 and undated

Series III: Photographs, ca. 1961

Series IV: Publications, 1760 and 1774

Series V: Sermons and Sermon Notes, 20 Oct. 1754-26 Sept. 1768


Also includes accession numbers 3380, 3638, and 4636.

Processing Information

Refoldering, rearrangement, creation of this finding aid, and detailed description for electronic formats completed by Sam Fore (2003). Updated by Henry G. Fulmer (2004).

Repository Details

Part of the South Caroliniana Library Repository

910 Sumter St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA
(803) 777-5747 (Fax)

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