Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Princeton University and Princeton University. Library. Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
University Land Records
Princeton University Archives
Permanent URL:
1752-1992 (mostly 1752-1860)
10 boxes and 1 folder
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Boxes 1-10; Not located


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).

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The University Land Records consist of deeds, mortgages, bonds, other legal papers, and maps concerning the acquisition, disposition, or description of University properties. Most of the papers are original, though some photocopies are present. The papers consist primarily of standard legal documents with detailed descriptions of the properties in question, as well as maps and surveys of existing University land.

The collection also contains materials gathered by Gerald Breese (Series 1) during research for his book "Princeton University Land" (1986). Those records include photocopies of deeds, correspondence and papers from other University administrative units, the Mercer County Clerk's Office, the New-York Historical Society and other research facilities. Some of Breese's research notes are included; Breese annotated many of the photocopies.

The collection also contains maps and surveys of Princeton University lands, primarily but not exclusively the main campus. While most of the maps are standard, a few are humorous or cartoonish, and a few of the surveys were conducted by students.

Collection Creator Biography:

Princeton University

The College of New Jersey was initially chartered in 1746. The first classes were held in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the parsonage of the president, the Reverend Jonathan Dickinson. Upon his death, the College moved to Newark, New Jersey, and was headed by the Reverend Aaron Burr, Sr. Since 1756, the College has been located in Princeton, New Jersey. For the first fifty years, nearly all College operations took place within Nassau Hall. Fires, fundraising difficulties, low student enrollment, and the Civil War challenged the vitality of the College in the early and middle nineteenth century, but the College grew vigorously under the leadership of President James McCosh, and it was renamed Princeton University in 1896. The Graduate School was established in 1900, although a limited graduate program had existed since the 1870s. Princeton enthusiastically supported the country (living up to its informal motto, "Princeton in the Nation's Service") during the First and Second World Wars, offering the expertise of faculty and campus space for training, as well as facilitating the early graduation of students so they could enlist. The post-World War II years brought dramatic changes to Princeton. The size and strength of the University's facilities and academic programs—especially for the applied sciences and public policy—were increased dramatically. Under President Robert Goheen, Princeton began to admit minority students in greater numbers in the 1960s and admitted women undergraduates in 1969. Today, Princeton is widely regarded as one of the top universities in the world.

Collection History


Most of these records were transferred from the University Controllers Office to the University Archives on September 23, 1966 .

Gerald Breese donated other records after completion of his book "Princeton University Land." Some records in the collection are of undetermined provenance.

An agreement between The College of New Jersey and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was purchased in 2022 (AR.2022.026).


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by John S. Riddle in 1994. Finding aid written by John S. Riddle in 1994. Additions were processed by Christie Peterson with assistance from Ameena Schelling '12 between November 2010 and January 2011. Update added by Phoebe Nobles in 2022.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Maps in boxes 7-9 are fragile and are not available for reading room access. Please contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. For instances beyond Fair Use, if copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of materials from the Princeton University Archives.

For instances beyond Fair Use where the copyright is not held by the University, while permission from the Library is not required, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

University Land Records; Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Boxes 1-10; Not located