The collection consists of selected correspondence and documents of members of the Remsen family of New York, including Henry Remsen, John Remsen, Rem I. Remsen, Robert G. Remsen (Princeton Class of 1842), and William Remsen (Princeton Class of 1835). There are thirty-one autograph letters by William Remsen to his father, Henry Remsen, dating from 1832 to 1835 when William was an undergraduate student at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). These letters include frequent requests for money, explanations of expenditures, details of trips, descriptions of the commencements of 1833, 1834, and 1835, and the burning of the Presbyterian Church (1835) where the commencements were held, accounts of the College and how many students were enrolled there, and accounts of the construction of East College (1833) into which William moved. Accompanying them are six of William's report cards (1832-1835), which were sent to his parents, as well as manuscripts of four orations, probably given for the Cliosophic Society in an undergraduate speaking contest, the subjects of which are the evils of novel reading, prejudice, religions, and the corruption of the British government. And there are eight replies to William's letters by his father. In addition, there are several letters of John Remsen and Rem I. Remsen with Thomas Riche, a Philadelphia merchant and innkeeper (d. 1792), regarding trade in Cayenne, French Guiana, in which the Remsen brothers were engaged, and an autograph trade contract (17 December 1764) between John Remsen and Peleg Thurston & Sons. Included are two copies of an agreement (1 June 1764) between Therbault de Chauvelion, Intendant of Cayenne and John Remsen for "sundries," including slaves, horses, wine, and lumber, to be sent to Cayenne.
The Remsen family of Brooklyn, N.Y., dates back to Rem Jansen Vanderbeek (d. 1681), one of the earliest Dutch settlers in the New York area. Following the custom of their culture and time, Mr. Vanderbeek's fifteen children all took the name Remsen, which means "son of Rem." The Vanderbeek lineage from that point became known as the Remsen family. Henry Remsen was one of the presidents of the Manhattan Bank. His son William Remsen was the Chairman of the Council of the American Geographical Society, one of the founders of the Third Avenue surface railroad, trustee and later president of the Greenwich Savings Bank, and trustee to the Northern Dispensary.
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
Remsen Family Collection; 1764-1835, Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.