Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

McClure, Charles F. W. (Charles Freeman Williams), 1865-1955
Charles F. W. McClure Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1852-1947 (mostly 1891-1929)
11 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-9; 11; B-001199


Charles F. W. McClure (Princeton Class of 1888) was a professor in the Princeton University Department of Biology. His papers consist of letters from numerous biologists and anatomists. Also included are some of McClure's writings, research and teaching files, diaries, and photographs.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection contains approximately 1200 letters sent to Dr. Charles F. W. McClure (Princeton Class of 1888), a professor in the Princeton University Biology Department, by numerous biologists and anatomists from the international academic community. A sizable portion of the correspondence is between McClure and his close associates, including his former instructor Henry Fairfield Osborn (whom McClure would later succeed at Princeton) and his frequent collaborator, George Sumner Huntington, professor of anatomy at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

McClure studied a wide variety of animal specimens, both living and dead. During his time at Princeton, he built a comparative anatomical collection using specimens from a number of sources including zoos, circuses, and animal dealers. Correspondence with early 20th-century animal dealers such as William Bartels and J.S. Edwards documents this practice.

Also included in the collection are some of McClure's writings, speeches, and lecture notes, research and teaching files, diaries, and photographs. Some items of note include a diary McClure kept while at Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 1888; a diary of a trip to Greenland in 1899 as part of the Peary Relief Expedition; and a set of negatives and lantern slides of photographs from botanist David Fairchild from his research and travels as part of the Allison V. Armour Expeditions of 1925-1927. Geography and plant life from Europe, North and West Africa, the Canary Islands, and South Asia are documented in these photographs.

In addition, there is an essay, "The Monastery," in which McClure describes the living arrangements of various groups of faculty (himself included) at Princeton from the 1880s until 1937. There are also drafts of a speech, "The Early Life of Charles F.W. McClure", which chronicles McClure's childhood in Massachusetts, his time as a sheepherder in Texas, his decisions to attend Princeton and to study biology, and the course of his career.

Collection Creator Biography:

McClure, Charles F. W. (Charles Freeman Williams), 1865-1955

Charles F.W. McClure (1865-1955) was a comparative anatomist and embryologist. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1865, McClure attended Princeton University and received his B.A. in 1888. He continued his studies at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, as well as in Europe at universities in Berlin, Kiel, and Wurzburg. In 1891, he returned to Princeton as an instructor of biology, later becoming assistant professor, professor of comparative anatomy, and professor emeritus. He authored numerous papers on the anatomy and development of the vascular system in vertebrates, among other subjects. McClure died in 1955.

Collection History


Gift of Professor Charles F.W. McClure in 1950 (AM 13965; AM 14164) and 1955 (AM 15510). Gift of Mrs. E.D.H. Johnson in 1960 (AM 17051).


No materials were removed from the collection during 2018 processing beyond routine appraisal practices.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in 2001. Finding aid written in 2001.

Biography written by Jessica Marati, '08

Collection was reprocessed by Sara Rogers in 2018. Finding aid updated by Chloe Pfendler and Sara Rogers in 2018.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

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:

Charles F. W. McClure Papers; 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): Boxes 1-9; 11; B-001199