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Collection Overview

Burr, Aaron, 1716-1757
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Aaron Burr (1716-1757) Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


This is an open collection for accessions of Aaron Burr (1716-1757) manuscripts, letters, documents, and related material.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of Burr manuscripts, correspondence, and documents dating from the period (1748-1757) he was president of the College of New Jersey, now Princeton. Included are original manuscripts of sermons, a Latin oration, and letters and documents, as well as photostats and copies of additional material. There is a contemporary silhouette of Burr as well as a letter, dated 1761, presenting a bill to his estate.


The collection has been organized into three series: 1. Writings; 2. Correspondence--A. By, B. To, C. About; 3. Pictorial Material.

Collection Creator Biography:

Burr, Aaron, 1716-1757

Aaron Burr was born on January 4, 1716, to Daniel and Elizabeth Burr in Upper Meadows, Connecticut. He excelled in languages and sciences at Yale College, from which he graduated in 1735. He stayed at Yale for an additional year to study theology, supported by the Berkeley Foundation, during which he became involved in the colonial revival of religion led by Jonathan Edwards.

Burr converted to the Calvinistic belief in the absolute sovereignty of God and was ordained a minister in 1736 by the Presbyterian Church of Newark. He was well known for his reasonable and thoughtful sermons, which contrasted starkly to those of his contemporary revival leaders. Burr also began teaching local boys Latin, Greek, and other liberal arts and became a popular educator.

Burr and fellow "New Side" Presbyterians from the Middle Colonies who favored revivals (as opposed to the "Old Side" Presbyterians and Anglicans from New England) felt that they were in need of an educational institution to train ministers in their philosophies as well as to provide general education to gentleman scholars. Several "New Side" ministers began planning a college and raising funds, and were able to obtain a charter for the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1746. The institution was to be an institution for higher learning for all men, not only those interested in joining the Presbyterian clergy.

John Dickinson was appointed by the trustees of the college to be its first president, but he died only four months after assuming the position. Burr was chosen to be his successor and became a driving force behind the institution, establishing its location, educational standards, and reputation. He was involved in all aspects of the college, regularly teaching classes and tutoring students, as well as supervising construction and raising funds. Burr was president of the college from November 1748 until his death.

Burr continued to fulfill his ministerial duties in Newark during his time as president. He married Esther Edwards, daughter of preacher Jonathan Edward, in 1752. The couple had two children, Aaron and Sarah. Burr died on September 24, 1757.

Collection History


The collection is the result, over time, of a departmental policy of gathering together different small accessions relating to a specific author. Holograph pages of Burr's sermons were the gift of Mrs. Eli Whitney, widow of the inventor of the cotton gin.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Anna Bialek in June 2005. Finding aid written by Anna Bialek in June 2005.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

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:

Aaron Burr (1716-1757) Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1

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