Benjamin Galen Snow Papers

February 8, 1905
Manuscript Collection #740
Snow, Benjamin Galen
Physical description
0.044 Cubic Feet, 1 item , diary.
Preferred Citation
Benjamin Galen Snow Papers (#740), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1866) including correspondence, diary, conversion of people, etc.

Biographical/historical information

Benjamin Galen Snow (1817-1880) was born in Brewer, ME, and graduated from Bowdoin College (1846) and later Bangor Theological Seminary (1849). Snow was ordained (September 25, 1851) and began missionary work for the A.B.C.F.M. (American Baptist Council of Foreign Missions) and was first stationed at Kusaie, Micronesia (November 18, 1851), and then on Ebon Atoll, Marshall Islands. Snow remained in the South Pacific until 1877, with the exception of a three-year hiatus (1868-1871).

Scope and arrangement

The collection consists of Snow's diary (March 1-July 17 1866).

Most entries begin with an account of the weather and the attendance of evening and teachers' meetings, while Sunday entries include church and singing school attendance. Diary entries primarily concern the daily events of Snow's stay on Ebon, including the acquisition of food and supplies, trade, tribal interaction, and religious instruction. Early journal entries discuss attempts to purify saltwater for salt (March 1); Snow's house construction (March 3, 13, 17, April 5, 13); the hunting and raising of pigs (March 7, 23, April 9); trade with a man named Capelle, likely a ship captain, that includes molasses, butter, tea, pickles, ketchup, a duck, and oil (March 22, June 19); and book shipments (April 5).

The diary consistently refers to the native people of Ebon Atoll. Particularly interesting entries address a fleet of twenty-two canoes to Ebon that held three prominent local chiefs named Kaibuke, Loabbaiu, and Losak; the murder of one of Kaibuke's wives and her brother, as well as the murders of several chiefs (April 4); the fact that seventeen chiefs comprised of males, females, young and old people have died since Snow arrived in the South Pacific (April 7); and a meeting between a chief from Kosaie and the chiefs of Ebon (May 7).

Information related to religion and the conversion of the native peoples is found throughout the diary. Mentioned are Snow's translation of the Book of Mark into the Kusaie language (April 2-June 12); the probational reception of ten islanders into the church (April 11); the baptism of four children (May 6); an infant's death and the funeral (May 27); and the excommunication of a church member (June 8).

Many entries describe Chief Kaibuke's relationship with Snow and with the church. Included are that fact that Ebon and the Marshall Islands were the only stations in Micronesia where no chiefs belonged to the church (May 7); Kaibuke speaking during a church service (May 20); and Kaibuke's plan to tattoo his neck and face (June 13-14).

Throughout the diary, several entries mention Snow's fondness of chess, ships arriving and leaving the atoll, fishing, and interaction with Capelle. Also of interest is an account of a July Fourth celebration involving the raising of an American flag and the firing of double-barreled muskets.

Administrative information
Custodial History

February 20, 1997, 1 volume; Diary (1866) of A.B.C.F.M. Missionary to the Coral Islands in Micronesia. Purchased courtesy of the Elizabeth Price Crockford Missionary and Church Endowment.

Source of acquisition

Purchased from Elizabeth Price Crockford Missionary and Church Endowment

Processing information

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Snow, B. G. (Benjamin G.)
Missionaries--Marshall Islands
Missions--Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands--Description and travel
Marshall Islands--Religion
Marshall Islands--Social life and customs--19th century