Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Ryan Smith


The life of Elisha P. Hurlbut (1807-1889) has been mostly forgotten since his death. This examination of his personal journal, which he wrote from 1858 to 1887, brings back to the forefront an influential figure that lived most of his life in and around Albany, New York. Prior to beginning the journal, Hurlbut was a lawyer and then a Supreme Court justice in New York. Seven years after retiring from public life in 1851, he commenced work on the journal that provided a detailed social and political commentary on New York, the United States, and the world as a whole. While the journal offers detailed insight into many specific subjects, this thesis focuses on Hurlbut’s views and expertise in civil rights, religion, and phrenology. This body of work will demonstrate how he shaped arguments for equality for all people, despised the influence of organized religion, and was a leader in phrenological studies.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

April 2014

Included in

History Commons