Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Paterson, William, 1745-1806
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Paterson Family Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
6 boxes and 8.6 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-6


Consists of selected papers of members of the Paterson family of New Jersey, chiefly those of William Paterson (Princeton Class of 1763), his father, Richard Paterson, his son, William Bell Paterson (Princeton Class of 1801), and twin grandsons, William and Stephen Van Rensselaer Paterson (Princeton Class of 1835). The collections provides 17th, 18th, and 19th-century source material for the history of the College of New Jersey and of the Colonial and post-Colonial history of the State of New Jersey.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of selected manuscripts, correspondence, letterbooks, documents, commonplace books (1763, 1793-1796), an account book (1786-1787), and legal opinions of chiefly four members of the Paterson family of New Jersey: William Paterson (Princeton Class of 1763), his son, William Bell Paterson (Princeton Class of 1801), and his twin grandsons, William and Stephen Van Rensselaer Paterson (Princeton Class of 1835). There is also some material of Paterson's father, Richard Patterson. The collection contains official documents of William Patterson the elder that relate to the Revolutionary War, the New Jersey Continental Army, and East Jersey Properties, as well as material dating from his undergraduate years at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). There are college essays, debates, and orations delivered at the Princeton Cliosophic Society, post-college political essays by William Bell Paterson, some of which were published in the Guardian (1808-1809) and the Palladium of Liberty, and poems by William and Stephen Van Rensselaer Paterson including the autograph manuscript of their Poems of Twin Graduates of the College of New Jersey (1882).

Among the papers of William Paterson (grandson) are twenty letters (1837-1846) addressed to him and his sister Cornelia Bell by their friend Anthony Walton White Evans. In these letters, mailed from Syracuse, N.Y., while Evans was working as an engineer on the Erie Canal, he writes about his life in northern New York State and the Onondaga Indian Tribes, among other details.


Organized by family member.

Collection Creator Biography:

Paterson, William, 1745-1806

The Paterson family was a prominent New Jersey family. William Paterson (Princeton Class of 1763) was the first attorney general of the State of New Jersey and was a member of the New Jersey delegation to the Constitutional Convention. Paterson was elected to serve in the first Senate of the United States and, in 1793, was chosen by George Washington to serve as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. Paterson also served as governor of New Jersey from 1790 to 1793.

Collection History


Presented by Dean Mathey. Various AM.

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information:

Folder inventory added by Allyse Terrell '2014 in 2011. Rearranged by Jameson Creager '2015 in 2013.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and 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.

Credit this material:

Paterson Family Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184