Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Clay, Sidney P. (Sidney Payne), 1800-1834.
Sidney P. Clay Family Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1783-1846 (mostly 1800-1844)
1 box and 0.45 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


The Sidney P. Clay Collection consists of correspondence, documents, and photographs of Clay (Princeton Class of 1821) and members of his family, and includes some correspondence of the Reed family.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence, documents, pamphlets, and other miscellaneous material of Sidney Clay and his family, as well as some correspondence of the Reed family. There is correspondence between Sidney Clay and his father, General Green Clay, and his mother, Sally Clay, written while he was a student at St. Thomas's College in Springfield, N.Y., (1817), and at Princeton (1818-1820), as well as correspondence with his brothers and sister Cassius, Brutus, and Paulina, and his famous cousin, Henry Clay. There are letters of Sidney Clay written in Kentucky to his second wife, Isabella Reed Clay, as well as Reed family letters. Also included in the collection are wills and correspondence with other relatives and friends. In addition, there are typescripts of a large number of the original letters and a typescript containing selections from Sidney Clay's correspondence with editorial comments by his great grandson, Clay Judson. There is a letter from Henry Clay to General Green requesting a letter of recommendation for Clay's son to be given to Rev. John Witherspoon at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University.) Another letter is to Albert Baldwin Dod, a professor at the College of New Jersey, with an introductory letter for Clay's son. Other correspondents of Henry Clay include J. D. Hammond, J. G. Rowland, and John Scott.

Among the documents are 1818 circulars of Harvard and Princeton, describing the respective courses of study and expenses at these educational institutions, and a large broadside (1818) catalog of the officers and students of Princeton on which someone (Clay?) has identified the members of the Whig and Cliosophic Societies.

Collection Creator Biography:

Clay, Sidney P. (Sidney Payne), 1800-1834.

Sidney P. Clay was born in Madison County, Kentucky, in 1800. He attended but did not graduate from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1821. In 1822, he married Nancy B. Keen, with whom he had one daughter, and they moved to Bourbon County. She died shortly thereafter, and he remarried Isabella E.J. Reed, with whom he had four children, Sidney R. G. Isabella E., Elias D., and Green. Sidney Clay died in 1834.

Henry Clay was an American statesman and orator who represented Kentucky in both the House of Representatives and Senate. He was a dominant figure in both the First and Second Party System and the founder and leader of the Whig Party. Henry Clay was also a leading advocate of programs for modernizing the economy, especially tariffs to protect industry, a national bank, and internal improvements to promote canals, ports and railroads. Clay was a war hawk and, and was very much responsible for the War of 1812. Although his multiple attempts to become president were unsuccessful, to a large extent Clay defined the issues of the Second Party System. He was a major supporter of the mercantile American System, and had success in brokering compromises on the slavery issue, especially in 1820 and 1850.

Collection History


Gift of Alice Clay Judson Ryerson.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Biography written by Jessica Marati, '08. Additions to the collection, and biography of Henry Clay written by and Dina Britain.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

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. For instances beyond Fair Use, 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:

Sidney P. Clay Family 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