Biography and History

Born at Gifford, Scotland, in 1723, and a decendant of John Knox, John Witherspoon became the leader of the conservative group of the Church of Scotland. Persuaded by Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton, both trustees of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), to come to America, he became the sixth president of the College of New Jersey (1768 to 1794) as well as a member of the Continental Congress (1776-1782) and the only active clergyman or college president to sign the Declaration of Independence. Witherspoon also helped organize Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey.

Source: From the finding aid for C0274

  • University Land Records. 1752-1992 (inclusive), 1752-1860 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC028

    The University Land Records consist of deeds, mortgages, bonds, other legal papers, and maps concerning the acquisition, disposition, or description of University properties. The records document the physical expansion of the University from its earliest period through the acquisition of large tracts of land in the 20th century, including the properties around Carnegie Lake and numerous farms. A portion of the papers relate to research conducted by Professor Gerald Breese for his book Princeton University Land, 1752-1984 (1986).

  • Lecture Notes Collection. 1772-1990 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC052

    This collection contains over 600 sets of student notes taken from lectures given by members of Princeton's faculty. They represent the broad range of courses taught at Princeton University (known as the College of New Jersey prior to 1896) and include the works of numerous famous faculty and students.

  • Office of the President Records : Jonathan Dickinson to Harold W. Dodds Subgroup. 1746-1999 (inclusive), 1830-1869 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC117

    This collection contains records relating to Princeton University presidents from Jonathan Dickinson, who served in this capacity from 1746 to 1747, to Harold W. Dodds, whose tenure spanned the period from 1933 to 1957. It brings together both primary and secondary materials pertaining to individual presidents as well as the office of the president itself. The Princeton University Presidents' Records document the lives and accomplishments of each president with varying completeness, as well as the functions of their office.

  • Varnum Lansing Collins Papers. 1842-1972 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC347

    Varnum Lansing Collins was a Princeton alum of the Class of 1893 and served as the University's Secretary from 1917 to 1936. Throughout his life Collins exhibited a special interest in Princeton's history and he authored a number of works relating to that theme. The Varnum Lansing Collins Papers consist primarily of materials generated by Collins while writing several of his most well-known works on Princeton history.

  • John Witherspoon Collection. 1765-1903 (inclusive), 1767-1790 (bulk).

    Call Number: C0274

    Consists of selected manuscripts, correspondence, and documents of John Witherspoon, who was sixth president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

  • Sergeant Family Collection. 1746-1843 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1192

    Consists of selected correspondence and documents by and about three members of the Sergeant family and their relationship with the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) during the Colonial period: Jonathan Sergeant, his son Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, and his grandson John Sergeant.

  • Hugh Simm Collection. 1768-1784 (bulk), 1748-1810 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1201

    Consists of twenty-two letters and documents of Hugh Simm, a mechanic from Paisley, Scotland, who, after moving to America in 1768, briefly served as Princeton University's first librarian and inspector of rooms.