John Chickering, sermon notebook index (Houghton Library)


Harvard college student John Chickering did not only keep meticulous notes on individual sermons; he also kept a detailed index of his own notebook. Chickering mastered not only structural and aural auditing but also content auditing, as just a glance at the index would allow him to recall discrete units of his sermon experience.

It would be easy for him to locate a sermon preached on a particular verse, for example, or by a particular minister. But the index seem almost excessively detailed. (The column containing the clerical title “Mr.” is not strictly necessary, for example.) I suggest in Jeremiah’s Scribes that Chicerking’s notebook offers us a good example of how individual notetakers created a sense of ownership of their own sermon experience through little choices when recording in their books. (Compare, for example, the sense of creative ownership in Michael Metcalfe’s sermon notebook.)

Courtesy of Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Chickering, John. Notes: on sermons: manuscript, 1651-52. MS Am 804. Houghton Library, Harvard University.

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