Skip to main content

John Boyd Bentley Papers

Identifier: Mss. 82 B44

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

Personal and professional papers, 1896-1987, of Bishop John Boyd Bentley, Bishop of Alaska and Director of Overseas Missions for the Protestant Episcopal Church and personal papers, 1895-1983, of his wife Elvira Carr Bentley.

Includes comprehensive records of his ministerial career including records of his official acts and texts of sermons and invocations. There is some correspondence relating to Bentley's career, including letters from W. A. R. Goodwin (1869-1939), Rector of Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, Virginia; Peter Trimble Rowe (1856-1941), Bishop of Alaska; and Henry Knox Sherrill (1890-1980), President Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

There is material relating to Bentley's work in Alaska, including a series of letters to his wife, 1930-1937, describing his travels on the Alaskan frontier. The collection also includes a photograph collection as well as diaries, correspondence, and photographs which chronicle his tours of the Far East in 1949; a world tour, 1959-1960; and tours of Latin America, 1960-1961. There are audio-cassettes of his autobiography.


  • Creation: 1895-1987


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical Information:

John Boyd Bentley was born in Hampton, Virginia 9 February 1896. He attended the College of William and Mary and served in the U. S. Field Artillery in World War I. Bentley attended the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia He served as an Episcopal clergyman in Alaska and in Williamsburg. He then served as Suffragan Bishop and Bishop of Alaska. From 1947 to 1964, Bentley was Director of Overseas Missions of the Episcopal Church. He died 12 June 1989.

Biography Timeline

1896, February 9 Born, Hampton, Virginia,son of Charles Headley Bentleyand Susan Elizabeth (Cake) Bentley

1915 Entered College of William and Mary(attended 1915-1916 and 1920-1921 but did not graduate)

1917 Entered service in U.S. Field Artillery

1921, May 28 Married Elvira Wentworth Carr(died, 1983)

1921 Attended Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia

1921-1925 Episcopal clergyman in Alaska

1926-1930 Episcopal clergyman in Williamsburg, Virginia

1931 Ordained Bishop in Denver, Colorado

1931-1942 Suffragan Bishop of Alaska

1942-1947 Bishop in charge of Alaska

1947-1964 Director of Overseas Missions of Episcopal Church

1964 Retired and moved to Hampton, Virginia

1964-1989 Episcopal minister in Diocese of Southern Virginia

1989, June 12 Died, Hampton, Virginia. Further information about this individual or organization may be available in the Special Collections Research Center Wiki: .


2.50 Linear Feet

Arrangement of Materials:

Organization: This collection is organized into 7 series. Series 1 contains papers and correspondence; Series 2 contains bound volumes and other related material; Series 3 contains photographs; Series 4 contains oversized material; Series 5 contains artifacts; Series 6 contains audio tapes; Series 7 contains the addition to the collection. Arrangement: This collection is arranged by chronologically by date. Series 1: Papers and Correspondence, is further divided into the following subseries: genealogical material, the papers of John Boyd Bentley, and the papers of Elvira Carr Bentley.

Folder for Series 7 (addition 1994.90) filed as Box 3, Folder 23.

Acquisition Information:

Gift: Acc. No. 82-36; 5 items, 10/2/1982.Gift: Acc. No. 82-39; 310 items, 10/17/1982.Gift: Acc. No. 83-22; 350 items, 4/16/1983.Gift: Acc. No. 84-8; 15 items, 2/9/1984.Gift: Acc. No. 85-52; 350 items, 11/18/1985.Gift: Acc. No. 88-10; 2 items, 2/17/1988.Gift: Acc. No. 88-16; 9 items, 4/26/1988.Transferred: Acc. No. 94-90; 1 item, 12/21/1994.

Related Materials:

Audiocassettes from this collection have been moved to the Manuscripts Audiovisual Collection.

Separated Materials:

Artifacts transferred to the Manuscripts Artifact Collection (Mss. 1.03) include Alaskan Landscape Painting (82B44.A11)

All audiovisual material from this collection has been moved to the Manuscripts Audiovisual Collection.

Physical Description

1042 items.


Other Information:

Additional information may be found at

Processing Information:

Processed by John Coski in 1987.

Guide to the John Boyd Bentley Papers
Finding Aid Authors: John Coski.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
The collection description/finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository