Contents and Arrangement

Series 1: Board of Trustee Meeting Minutes, 1748-2022 September

387 Volumes
Restrictions may apply. See Access Note.

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The first volume (1748-1796) is a gold mine of information about the personalities and activities of the young College of New Jersey. As these minutes date from the very beginning of the College, they address the multitude of issues and problems the trustees initially addressed. It was the era of the group decision, with the entire Board involved in solving every type of problem at their infrequent (two or three times a year) meetings. This volume is contained in two forms: the original volume (which does not circulate) and a typed transcript in two parts.

The minutes contain the names of officials, trustees, teachers, and students. They also provide a record of the major decisions of the College (such as the election of new presidents) as well as smaller ones (such as which foods the steward could sell to students and where the account books would be kept). Unfortunately, the discussion that led to such decisions was rarely recorded, although many letters, bills, and documents were often copied out into the minutes (though not all reports mentioned are transcribed).

Researchers will find information related to the standards for admission and graduation; legacies received; names of members of the graduating classes; names of recipients of honorary degrees; the list of books donated by Governor Jonathan Belcher; the hiring and firing of tutors; the selection and election of presidents; the purchase and sale of land; the establishment of accounting methods; the maintenance of the College facilities; fundraising efforts; the running of the Grammar School; the rate of board for students; and the continual hiring and firing of stewards. Perhaps the most frequent topic of discussion in the early records is the state of the College's finances and the difficulty in finding an acceptable method of record-keeping.

With a slight adjustment of details (such as the tutors becoming professors and the refectory becoming the eating clubs), these continue to be the dominant concerns of the trustees: staff, discipline, curriculum, finances, infrastructure, and the students' successful completion of their courses.

The President's Report is the best source of a picture of the state and nature of the College at any particular time.

Volumes 2-12 (1797-1915) are very similar in structure and nature to Volume 1. They grow progressively longer, but there is no equivalent increase in depth or detail. A few notes:

Volumes 13-91C (1915-1993) are quarto-sized volumes and noticeably different in style to the earlier volumes. The minutes now become a mixture of short accounts of the flow of the meetings followed by printed reports prepared in advance of the meetings. The trustees met every October, January, April and June (with occasional special meetings) during this period.

These later minutes provide less of an account of a single meeting than a repository of reports by specialized committees researching narrower topics. While the information about Princeton becomes more specific, there is less of a chance to comprehend the opinions and leanings of the various trustees.

The topics addressed by the standing committees whose reports are represented in these volumes include finance, the curriculum, grounds and buildings, clubs, morals and physical education, the graduate school, the library, and undergraduate life.

Researchers may also consult the "Rough Minutes" of meetings in Series 4.


Arranged chronologically by meeting date.

Collection History


Appraisal information was not recorded at time of processing.


The University Archives appreciates the generous support of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New Jersey who underwrote preservation efforts on the University Charter.

Processing Information

Arranged and rehoused by Jennifer Bajorek '92 in 1990-1991. Inventoried by Carl Esche in 1994. Finding aid written by Sara Bush in 1996. Additions integrated by Christie Peterson in May 2012 and Lynn Durgin in January 2018. Accession AR.2021.033 integrated by Phoebe Nobles in 2021; materials from accession AR.2020.015 and AR.2022.045 added by Phoebe Nobles in 2022. Accession AR.2023.035 was added by Phoebe Nobles in 2023.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Minutes are closed for a 30-year period from the date of their creation.

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:

Series 1: Board of Trustee Meeting Minutes; Board of Trustees Records, AC120, Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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 (mudd): Box 68

Find More

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital images of the Volumes I through XII of the Trustees minutes and of the second charter of the College of New Jersey are available via the Princeton University Library Digital Collections website.

Other Finding Aids

An online database is available for searching the minutes spanning 1748-1894. Indexes for volumes covering 1868-1898 are found in the individual volumes.

Series 9 consists of photocopies of indexes to Volumes 1-4 of the Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes, and a card index to the Board of Trustee Minutes that covers the period roughly from 1900 to 1987.

Princeton University
Princeton University. Trustees