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Biographical Note

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Arrangement of the Collection


Index Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Series 1: Personal and Family History Files, 1798-1924

Series 2: Correspondence, 1822-1956

Series 3: Journals and Notebooks, 1832-1920

Series 4: Lecture Notes, 1860-1920

Series 5: Chautauqua, 1874-1925

Series 6: Publications by John H. Vincent, 1861-1912

Series 7: Other Printed Matter, 1875-1920

Series 8: Photographs, 1860-1910

Southern Methodist University

John Heyl Vincent papers, 1798-1956:

A Guide to the Collection


Creator: Vincent, John Heyl, 1832-1920.
Title: John Heyl Vincent papers
Dates: 1798-1956
Dates (Bulk): 1860-1920
Abstract: John Heyl Vincent (1832-1920) was a minister, religious educator, and bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church who co-founded the Chautauqua Institution Lewis Miller in 1874. The John Heyl Vincent papers consist of family history research files, personal and professional correspondence, journals, public address notes, publications, and photographs created or collected by John Heyl Vincent; his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Dusenbury Vincent (1832-1909); their son, Dr. George Edgar Vincent (1864-1941); and his wife, Louise Palmer Vincent (1865-1953).
Accession No: Collection BridArch 3.026
Quantity: 11 boxes (8 linear feet)
Language: Material is in English
Repository Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

The Rev. John H. Vincent, S.T.D., LL. D. (1832-1920), was a noted minister, author, educator, and public speaker. He was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on February 23, 1832, to John Himrod Vincent (1798-1873) and Mary Raser Vincent (1803-1852). In 1838 the Vincent family relocated to Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.

As a young adult Vincent worked as a school teacher and as a circuit riding Methodist preacher. He was licensed to preach and became a local pastor in 1850. He relocated to Newark, New Jersey in 1852 upon the death of his mother. After completing studies at the Newark Wesleyan Institute, Vincent was ordained in the New Jersey Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1857. His first action as elder was to request a transfer to the Rock River Conference. While in Illinois, Rev. Vincent served Methodist churches in Joilet, Mt. Morris, Galena, Rockford, and Chicago.

In 1862 Vincent traveled to Europe and Palestine. This was the first of several international voyages he would undertake. Toward the end of the American Civil War, Vincent served in the U. S. Christian Commission.

Rev. John H. Vincent founded two successful religious periodicals: Northwestern Sunday School Quarterly (1865) and Sunday School Teacher (1866). The Methodist Episcopal Church General Conference of 1868 affirmed his work in religious education by naming him editor of the Sunday-School Journal, Corresponding Secretary of the Sunday-School Union, and Superintendent of the Department of Sunday-School Instruction.

Believing that a large-scale, interdenominational, religious educators’ training event could strengthen the Sunday School movement, Rev. Vincent and Akron, Ohio, businessman Lewis Miller organized a Sunday School Assembly at Lake Chautauqua, New York, in 1874. The Chautauqua Assembly became the Chautauqua Institution under the long-term guidance of President Miller and Chancellor Vincent.

Rev. Vincent was elected Bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church by the General Conference of 1888. As bishop, Vincent lived in Buffalo, New York (1888–1893), Topeka, Kansas (1893-1900), and Zurich, Switzerland (1900-1904). From Switzerland Vincent oversaw the work of the Methodist Episcopal Church conferences in Europe. After his retirement from the ministry in 1904, Vincent continued to make public appearances, reviving his most popular speeches. During this time he also focused on genealogical research and the writing of his autobiography. Vincent died in Chicago in 1920.

John Heyl Vincent married Sarah Elizabeth Dusenbury (1832-1909), daughter of Henry and Caroline Butler Dusenbury, on November 10, 1858. Known as Elizabeth, "Lib," and "Libbie," Mrs. Vincent shared her husband’s Methodist faith, love of books, and passion for the promotion of education.

Their son, George Edgar Vincent (1864-1941), adopted many of his parents’ interests. He became the literary editor of the Chautauqua Press in 1886 when in his early twenties. George E. Vincent later served as Vice-President (1888-1889) and President (1907-1915) of the Chautauqua Institution. Dr. Vincent taught and held administrative positions at the University of Chicago from 1900 to 1911. From 1911 until 1917, he served as President of the University of Minnesota. Dr. George Vincent then became the President of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1917, retiring in 1929.

George Edgar Vincent married Mary Louise Palmer in January of 1890. They raised three children: Isabel, John H., and Elizabeth.


Leete, Frederick DeLand. Methodist Bishops – Personal Notes and Bibliography. Nashville: Parthenon Press, 1948.

Price, Carl F. Who’s Who in American Methodism. New York: E. B. Treat & Co., 1916.

Vincent, Leon H. John Heyl Vincent: A Biographical Sketch. New York: The MacMillan Co., 1925.

John Heyl Vincent, February 23, 1832 - May 9, 1920, Commemorative Exercises, August 1, 1920. Chautauqua, NY: Chautauqua Press, 1920.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John Heyl Vincent papers chronicle the family life and career of Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincent, revealing his broad intellectual and religious interests. The collection also demonstrates that, during his long career as a public figure, Vincent met many of the leaders of his day, including Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Thomas Edison. The Vincent papers feature one linear foot of genealogical research notes, more than 1200 family and business letters, twenty-four folders of Chautauqua Institution-related materials, Rev. Vincent’s lecture notes and journals, copies of books and booklets written by him, publications owned by Bishop Vincent but not written by him, and photographs.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into eight topical series:
Series 1: Personal and Family History Files, 1798-1924
Series 2: Correspondence, 1822-1956
Series 3: Journals and Notebooks, 1832-19201832-1920
Series 4: Lecture Notes, 1863-1920
Series 5: Chautauqua, 1874-1925
Series 6: Publications by John H. Vincent, 1861-19121861-1912
Series 7: Other Printed Matter, 1875-1920
Series 8: Photographs, 1860-1910

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Access to Collection:

The collection is open for research use. Patrons must sign the Acknowledgement of Legal Responsibility and Privacy Rights form before using this collection.

Publication Rights:

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Head of Special Collections of the Bridwell Library.

Copyright Statement:

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.

Sensitive Materials Statement:

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. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which Bridwell Library assumes no responsibility.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms in the Southern Methodist University Libraries' online catalog. Researchers desiring related materials may search the catalog using these terms.
Vincent, John Heyl, 1832-1920
Methodist Episcopal Church--Bishops
Chautauqua Institution
Religious educators--United States

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Related Materials

John Heyl Vincent Documents and Images at Bridwell Library digital collection https://sites.smu.edu/cdm/bridwell/jhv.

F. D. Leete Collection on Methodist Bishops, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/smu/00155/smu-00155.html.

F. D. Leete Methodist Historical Collection, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

Bishop John H. Vincent’s 1893-1903 daybooks are owned by The Chautauqua Institution and can be accessed through the New York State Library.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], John Heyl Vincent papers, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Bishop Frederick DeLand Leete, 1956.

Custodial History

The core of this collection consists of materials that were gathered by John Heyl Vincent and used by him in publishing a serialized autobiography in 1910. The papers later came into the possession of George E. Vincent, who added correspondence and anecdotes collected from Bishop Vincent’s friends and colleagues. The augmented collection was then used by Bishop Vincent’s nephew, Leon H. Vincent, author of John Heyl Vincent: A Biographical Sketch (1925). Internal evidence suggests that the entire collection was acquired by Bishop Frederick D. Leete. Bishop Leete added a number of publications by Bishop Vincent given by Mrs. Paul V. Harper of Libertyville, Illinois, before donating these materials to Bridwell Library in 1956 as part of his Methodist Historical Library.

Processing Information

This collection was arranged and described in 2010 by Timothy S. G. Binkley with assistance from Heather M. Oglevie and Elizabeth Perry.Reprocessed by Timothy S. G. Binkley, 2017.

Encoded by

Lara Corazalla, 2010. Finding aid revisions encoded by Timothy S. G. Binkley, 2017.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Personal and Family History Files, 1798-19241798-1924
63 folders

The first series, Personal and Family History Files, consists of sixty-three folders of biographical and genealogical documents dating between 1798 and 1924. The series has been divided into seven subseries:
Subseries 1: Personal and Family Life
Subseries 2: Ministry
Subseries 3: Travel Abroad
Subseries 4: Civil War
Subseries 5: Christian Education and Young Adult Ministries
Subseries 6: Episcopacy
Subseries 7: Retirement
The subseries follow the order of a previous arrangement scheme that reflects the outline of Leon H. Vincent’s book, John Heyl Vincent: A Biographical Sketch.
Subseries 1: Personal and Family Life
Box Folder
287A 01-02 Notes autobiographical, 1880-1924
03 Anecdotes, 1880-1924
04 Biographical data, 1850-1933
05 Bibliography and chronology, 1900-1924
06 Bethuel Vincent memoir, 1890
07 Elizabeth Dusenbury Vincent, 1854-1909
08 J. Himrod Vincent, 1867-1924
09 Mary R. Vincent, 1892
10 Anna Vincent Massey, 1906
11-14 Genealogy research, 1808-1920
15 Major Hogan letter noting Lafayette’s visit to Alabama, 1825
Box Folder
287B 01 John H. Vincent’s descendants, 1870-1924
02 John H. Vincent’s humor, 1920-1924
03 Religious thought, experience, and piety, 1865-1924
04 Methodism, 1895-1900
05 Chillisquaque (Vincent Memorial) Chapel, 1889-1902
06 Tributes, obituaries, and condolences, 1888-1924
07 George E. Vincent, 1892-1924
08 Singing Geography, 1849-circa 1920
Box Folder
2022 01 Genealogy oversize (from Box 287A, file 13), 1798-1887
Subseries 2: Ministry
Box Folder
287B 09 Luzerne Circuit, 1887-1924
10 New Jersey, 1867-1924
11 Joliet and Mt. Morris, Illinois, 1857-1924
12 Galena, Illinois, 1861-1924
13 Rockford, Illinois, 1863-1924
14 Plainfield, New Jersey, 1888
15-16 Palestine Classes, 1855-1887
Subseries 3: Travel Abroad
Box Folders
287B 17-18 Europe and Palestine in 1862, 1862-1924
19 Europe in 1872, 1871-1924
20 Europe and Palestine in 1886, 1886-1924
21 Europe in 1891, 1920-1924
Subseries 4: Civil War
Box Folder
287B 22 U. S. Christian Commission, 1862-1924
23 Ulysses S. Grant, 1865-1924
24 Farewell address to the soldiers, 1861-1924
25 12th Regiment reunion, 1896
01 Ulysses S. Grant oversize materials, 1865
Box Folder
2022 02 Newspaper account of Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral, 1865 April
Subseries 5: Christian Education and Young Adult Ministries
Box Folder
288 01 Sunday School movement history, 1905-1924
02 Sunday School - Christian Education - Uniform Lessons, 1864-1920
03 Missionary Service for a Sunday-School Missionary Meeting, 1873 September
04-05 Oxford League, Epworth League, and Christian Endeavor, 1887-1891
06 Our Youth articles, 1880-1900
Box Folder
2022 09 Frances E. Willard article on the origins of the Uniform Sunday School Lessons, 1891 April 25
Subseries 6: Episcopacy
Box Folder
288 07 Election and reflections, 1884-1924
08 Europe 1893 visit, 1893-1924
09 Harvard University, 1893-1924
10-11 South America visit, 1896-1924
12 Europe 1900-1904 residency, 1900-1924
13 Wesley’s Chapel Simpson window, 1901-1902
1 Harvard University Calendar, 1894 November 16
Box Folder
2022 03 Europe articles by John H. Vincent, 1901
04 Seven Days Study in Church Life, 1905
Subseries 7: Retirement
Box Folder
288 14 Retirement reflections and correspondence, 1904-1910
15 “Timely Message” Theodore Roosevelt Christmas letter, 1908-1909
Box Folder
2022 05 “Timely Message” Vincent Christmas letter, 1908-1909

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Series 2: Correspondence, 1822-1956
66 folders

The second series is an extensive collection of family (90%) and business (10%) correspondence. These letters and cards date between 1822 and 1938. Most of the approximately 1200 letters in Bishop John H. Vincent papers reside in the seventy-seven folders of this series, which has been divided into six subseries:
Subseries 1: John Heyl Vincent
Subseries 2: Elizabeth Dusenbury Vincent
Subseries 3: George Edgar Vincent
Subseries 4: Louise Palmer Vincent
Subseries 5: Extended Family
Subseries 6: Correspondence File Remainders
Items that merit special note include John H. Vincent’s letter to Elizabeth dated April 12, 1865, in which he discusses meeting President Abraham Lincoln while visiting General Grant, two letters by William McKinley, and the bound volume of birthday greetings from 1902.
Subseries 1: John Heyl Vincent
Box Folder
288 16 To J. Himrod Vincent, 1860
17 To Henry Dusenbury, 1858
18-27 To Elizabeth D. Vincent, 1859-1909
28-30 To George E. Vincent, 1865-1920
31 To Louise P. Vincent, 1908
32 To others, 1869-1915
33 From J. Himrod Vincent, 1850-1853
34 From Bethuel Vincent, 1855, 1900-1903
35 From William McKinley, 1893-1896
36-38 From others, 1851-1893
39 70th birthday greetings book, 1902
Subseries 2: Elizabeth Dusenbury Vincent
Box Folder
288 40 To Henry Dusenbury, 1859
41-47 To John H. Vincent, 1859-1909
Box Folder
289 01 To George E. Vincent, 1869-1895
02 From Grandchildren, 1900-1907
03 From others, 1863-1908
Subseries 3: George Edgar Vincent
Box Folders
289 04-08 To John H. Vincent, 1875-1910
09-20 To Elizabeth D. Vincent, 1869-1909
21 To Louise P. Vincent, 1906
22 To and from others, 1882-1938
Subseries 4: Louise Palmer Vincent
Box Folder
289 23 To John H. Vincent, undated, 1890-1920
24-27 To Elizabeth D. Vincent, 1890-1909
28 To George E. Vincent, 1890-1920
Subseries 5: Other Family Members
Box Folders
289 29-30 Extended family, 1822-1906
31 “Vincent Family Bulletin” newsletter, 1908
Subseries 6: Correspondence File Remainders
Box Folder
289 32 Other and unidentified senders / recipients, 1889-1908
33 Letters critical of Vincent and Chautauqua, 1896
34 Enclosures, 1902-1909
35 Leete correspondence, book list, and inventory, 1950-1956

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Series 3: Journals and Notebooks, 1832-1920
14 folders

The third series is comprised of fourteen folders containing John H. Vincent’s personal journals, notebooks, and pocket calendars. These items give offer insights into Vincent’s thoughts and activities throughout much of his life (1832-1920).
Box Folders
290A 01-05 Journals, 1832-1872
06-07 Notebooks, 1860-1920
08 Helpful Hints for the Sunday School Teacher 1866
09 12 Lessons from Genesis / 12 Lessons from the Psalms, 1860-1920
10 Sermons notebook, 1888-1891
11 Pocket calendars, 1893, 1897
12 European conferences episcopal visitation notebook, 1893
13 Europe notebook, 1901-1903
14 Unidentified notebook (post-1850 narrative), 1850-1900

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Series 4: Lecture Notes, 1860-1920
33 folders

Series 4, Lecture Notes, contains thirty-three folders of lecture and sermon notes and an oversize folder of newspaper clippings about Bishop Vincent’s public addresses. Most items in this series are undated and may have been produced any time between 1870 and 1920.
Box Folder
290B 01 South America, 1880-1920
02 The Receding House: Mother, 1912-1913
03 Sidney Lanier, 1881-1920
04 That Boy, 1870-1920
05-06 That Boy’s Sister, 1870-1920
07 The Best Type of Church Unity, 1912
08 Story of an English Skeptic [Ellen Watson], 1870-1920
09 School Out of School, 1890-1910
10 An Every Day Parliament, or The Power of the Parlor, 1870-1920
11 Address to the Irish Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, 1902
12 Address to the English Wesleyan Conference, 1902
13 Lecture on Egypt, 1863-1920
14 From Eisleben to Eisleben [an address on Martin Luther], 1870-1920
15 Hannah More, 1916 March 16
16 A Summer Journey [an address on travel], 1900-1910
17 Brain Work [an address on the mind and thinking], 1870-1920
18 John Paul Jones, 1900-1910
19 The Tabernacle / A Greater and More Perfect Tabernacle, 1860-1920
Box Folder
291A 01 A Vision in the Yosemite, 1902-1912
02 Among the Alps and in Italy, 1902-1912
03 An Old Quilt [a story about Jacob Chrisman], 1870-1920
04 The Subject of Prayer, 1860-1920
05 Switzerland, 1870-1920
06 Canaan / Palestine, 1862-1920
07 Robert Browning, 1888-1920
08 Tuesday Evening Lectures on Miracles, 1860-1900
09 Question Drawer and Address on Certain C.L.S.C. Ideas of Life, 1878-1920
10 Story of the Christian Church, 1880-1920
11 Words to General Conference Delegates, 1880-1920
12 Methodist Manhood, St. James M.E.C., 1909 October 19
13 Heart, Head and Hand, 1860-1920
14 Additional lecture and sermon notes, 1860-1920
Box Folder
2022 06 Lecture news clippings, 1862-1898

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Series 5: Chautauqua, 1874-1925
24 folders

The fifth series includes twenty-four folders of data from and about the Chautauqua Institution. Materials in this series date between 1874 and 1925. The copies of Chautauqua Vesper Services and Chautauqua Hymnal and Liturgy include numerous annotations and paste-ins.
Box Folder
291A 15 Founding of Chautauqua, 1876-1908
16 Chautauqua history, 1881-1923
17 Board of Trustees Annual Meeting report, 1887 January
18 Old first night, 1912-1925
19 Articles, 1889-1920
20 Chautauqua University, 1886-1898
21 Chautauqua correspondence, 1879-1910
22 Chautauqua Foreign Tourists Memoranda, 1885-1887
23 Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, 1876-1923
24 Ulysses S. Grant, 1875-1900
25 Mary A. Lathbury, 1909-1910
26 Booklets and leaflets, 1879-1920
27 Advertisements, 1876-1910
28 Chautauqua Sunday School Assembly, 1874-1897
29 S. C. Swallow article: “Unmethodistic Literature Among Methodists” 1882
30 Piedmont Chautauqua correspondence, 1888
31 Chautauqua in Great Britain, 1897-1923
32 New England Assembly, 1881-1885
Box Folder
291B 01 Round Lake Sunday School Assembly, 1878
02 Report of the Chautauqua Hebrew Class, 1877
03 Return from Europe celebration, 1902 August
04 Chautauqua Vesper Services, 1885
05 Chautauqua Hymnal and Liturgy, 1903, 1903
Box Folder
2022 07 Chautauqua Assembly Daily News, 1876

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Series 6: Publications by John H. Vincent, 1861-1912
24 folders

The articles, tracts, booklets, and books in Series 6 represent Bishop Vincent’s many published works. The earliest example dates from 1861; the latest from 1912. Some of these volumes were owned by John H. Vincent. Others were added by Mrs. Paul V. Harper while the collection was under the care of Bishop Frederick DeLand Leete.
Box Folder
291B 06-08 The Chautauqua Text Books, 1877-1882
09 Chautauqua Hand Book of Sabbath-School Normal Work, 1879
10 Our Alma Mater, 1878-1887
11 The Book of Bible Services, part second, 1877
12 The Magi and The Messiah, 1880
13 Bible People, 1882
14 Geometry, 1883
15 The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, 1889
16 To Old Bethlehem, 1890
17 The Meaning of Chautauqua, 1888-1912
18 Little Footprints in Bible Lands, 1861
The Revival and After The Revival, 1882
Box Folder
292A 01 Our Own Church, 1890
My Mother: An Appreciation, 1892
Two Letters to a Minister by Paul the Apostle, 1893
02 The Story of a Letter (Ephesians), 1893
Timothy: Two Letters to a Minister, 1893
03 The Holy Waiting: The Christian’s Hand-Book, 1893
At the Table Altar: Meditations for a Month of Mornings, 1896
04 The Inner Life: A Study in Christian Experience, 1900
05 My Church: the Church of the True Life, 1890-1910
06 Zu Ihm: Der Weg zum wahren Leben, 1890-1910
Box Folder
313 07 Old and New Fashions in Sunday School Work, 1890-1910
Box Folder
292A 08 Tracts, 1888-1910
09 Articles and addresses, 1862-1904
10 Oration: "A School of Oratory" 1895
11 "The Morning" Easter programs, 1880

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Series 7: Other Printed Matter, 1875-19201875-1920
9 folders

Dating as early as 1875 and perhaps as late as 1920, the documents and publications in Series 7 were in the possession on Bishop Vincent but were not produced by him.
Box Folder
292A 12 Reviews of books by John H. Vincent, 1880-1910
13 The Chautauqua School of Theology, 1881
14 The Oxford League and the Epworth League, 1875-1920
15 The Conference System of Theological Education, 1903
16 The Church Steps, 1875-1920
17 A Unique Church Club: An Appeal to Pastors, 1880-1920
18 The Book of Psalms, 1877
Box Folder
292B 07 The Holy Bible, 1885
Box Folder
2022 08 The Sunday School Times front cover, 1875

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Series 8: Photographs, 1860-1910
6 folders

The forty-six images in Series 8 include photographs of Bishop Vincent and family, a cabinet card of a portrait painting of Bishop John Potter (1674-1747) owned by Vincent, and images of Chautauqua and several homes of the Vincents. Of special note, a photograph of a daguerreotype of John H. Vincent at age 16 or 17 (1848-1849) resides in file 1. The original daguerreotype is not part of the collection. The images in this series have been digitized and posted on website https://sites.smu.edu/cdm/bridwell/jhv for remote user access.
Box Folder
292B 01 Vincent family images, 1870-1910
02 Bishop Potter portrait cabinet card, 1905
03 Chautauqua, 1875-1905
04 Chillisquaque, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, 1860-1910
05 Episcopal residence, Topeka, Kansas, 1870-1910
06 New York study or parlor (Buffalo, Chautauqua, or New York City?), 1870-1900

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