Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Blair family
Blair and Lee Family Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1640-1946 (mostly 1812-1920)
474 boxes and 253 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-440; 442-471; P-000112; P-000095; P-000094


The collection consists of the personal and family papers of five members of the Blair and Lee families of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia -- Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876); his daughter, Elizabeth Blair Lee (1818-1906); her husband, Samuel Phillips Lee (1812-1897); their son, Blair Lee (1857-1944, Princeton Class of 1880); and his cousin, Andrew Alexander Blair (1848-1932) -- reflecting their various political, journalistic, naval, family, business, legal, and domestic interests.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of the personal and family papers of five members of the Blair and Lee families of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia -- Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876); his daughter, Elizabeth Blair Lee (1818-1906); her husband, Samuel Phillips Lee (1812-1897); their son, Blair Lee (1857-1944, Princeton Class of 1880); and his cousin, Andrew Alexander Blair (1848-1932) -- reflecting their various political, journalistic, naval, family, business, legal, and domestic interests. While the collection largely pertains to these five family members, their papers also contain a significant amount of correspondence, documents, and writings of other members of the Blair and Lee families. Among other topics, materials in this collection document the families' involvement in American politics spanning from the Jacksonian Era through World War I.

The Blair family papers consist primarily of papers of politician and journalist Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876), including writings and lectures, documents, family correspondence, articles and other materials related to his editorship of the Globe, estate records, and correspondence with prominent political figures, including many involved with the administration of Andrew Jackson. The papers of his daughter, Elizabeth Blair Lee, document the political and social lives of the Blair and Lee families, as well as her work with the Washington City Orphan Asylum. The papers of Blair's grandson, Andrew Alexander Blair, contain additional family correspondence and span his time at the United States Naval Academy prior to becoming a chemist.

The Lee family papers include the papers of Samuel Phillips Lee, which document his service in the United States Navy, including his involvement in the U.S. Coast Survey, as well as the management of the Silver Spring Farm, real estate ventures, and family and domestic life. The papers of his son, the lawyer and politician Blair Lee, relate to his life as a student, work as a lawyer and United States senator during World War I and the administration of Woodrow Wilson, service in various organizations, and personal and family life.

Collection Creator Biography:

The Blairs were a prominent United States political family based in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Along with members of the related Lee family, individuals in the Blair family were active in American politics, business, journalism, law, and philanthropy throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Francis Preston Blair Sr. (1791-1876) was an American newspaper editor, journalist, and politician. Blair was born in Virginia, raised in Kentucky, and later made a home at an estate he named Silver Spring in Montgomery County, Maryland, where his descendants lived after his death. He was a member of Andrew Jackson's Kitchen Cabinet and advised Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. From 1831 to 1845, Blair ran The Globe (Washington, D.C.), a newspaper that promoted the interests of the Democratic Party during the administrations of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. Blair married Eliza Violet Howard Gist (1794-1877), with whom he had five children, Montgomery Blair (1813–1883), Juliet Blair (1816-1819), Elizabeth Blair (1818-1906), James Lawrence Blair (1819-1852), and Francis Preston Blair Jr. (1821–1875). His son Frank P. (Francis Preston) Blair Jr. (1821–1875) was a politician, lawyer, and major general in the United States Army during the Civil War. He became a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 1852 to 1856 and later represented Missouri in the United States House of Representatives (1857-1864) and Senate (1871-1873). He and his wife, the philanthropist and organizer Apolline Agatha Alexander Blair (1828–1908), had eight children, including chemist Andrew A. Blair (1848-1932), Christine Biddle Blair Graham (1852-1915), James Lawrence Blair (1854-1904), and Francis Preston Blair III (1856-1914). Elizabeth Blair Lee (1818-1906), who was also active in Washington, D. C., political and philanthropic circles, married Samuel Phillips Lee (1812-1897), a naval officer, in 1843. They had one son named Blair Lee (1857-1944), who became a lawyer, legislator and social reformer.

Collection History


The papers were originally deposited at Princeton University Library on August 1, 1942, and later gifted to the university by P. Blair Lee (Class of 1918) and E. Brooke Lee (Class of 1916) in 1965-1969 (AM 21313).


No materials were separated during 2017 processing.


Reprocessing and description enhancement for portions of this collection were sponsored by the Delafield Fund.

Processing Information

The collection was initially arranged by a Mrs. Larrabee, whose work was completed by Caroline W. Hiatt in 1948.

The collection was later processed by Judith Golden in 1992. Finding aid written by Judith Golden in 1992.

Portions of the finding aid were revised by Kelly Bolding in 2017, with assistance from Julia English '19 and Fiona Bell '18.

A box of oversize materials, formerly housed in Box 441, were rehoused into flat files in September 2021. As a result, there is no Box 441.

Some materials in this collection were treated for mold in 2018.

During 2022, restrictions were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

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:

Blair and Lee 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
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-440; 442-471; P-000112; P-000095; P-000094

Find More

Related Materials

For additional Blair family papers, assembled by other members of the Blair family, refer to:

Blair Family Papers (Princeton University Library, C1569)

Blair Family Papers (Library of Congress, MSS12930)

Subject Terms:
Administration of estates -- Maryland.
City planning -- United States -- 20th century.
Criminal law -- Maryland.
Editors -- United States.
Education -- New Jersey -- 19th century.
Elections -- United States.
English literature -- Study and teaching -- New Jersey -- Princeton -- 19th century.
Estates (Law) -- Maryland.
Fathers and daughters -- Washington (D.C.) -- 19th century.
Fathers and sons -- Maryland.
French spoliation claims.
Governors -- New Jersey -- 20th century.
Husband and wife -- Maryland -- Silver Spring -- 19th century.
Husband and wife -- Washington (D.C.) -- 19th century.
Journalists -- Washington (D.C.)
Law -- United States -- Cases.
Lawyers -- Maryland.
Local government -- Maryland -- 20th century.
Mothers and sons -- New Jersey -- Princeton -- 20th century.
Municipal government -- Maryland.
Naval education -- Maryland -- Annapolis -- 19th century.
Naval history -- 19th century.
Patronage, Political -- Maryland -- Montgomery County.
Political clubs -- Maryland -- Montgomery County.
Political conventions -- United States.
Politicians -- Maryland.
Politicians -- United States.
Presidents -- United States -- Elections, 1896.
Presidents -- United States -- Elections, 1900.
Presidents -- United States -- Elections, 1908.
Presidents -- United States -- Elections, 1912.
Presidents' spouses -- United States.
Real property -- Maryland -- Montgomery County.
Real property -- Missouri -- St. Louis.
Real property -- Washington (D.C.).
Statesmen -- United States.
Students and war -- United States -- 19th century.
World War, 1914-1918 -- France -- Photographs.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Personal narratives, American.
Genre Terms:
Account books.
Business records.
Campaign literature, 1896
Campaign literature, 1905
Campaign literature, 1909
Campaign literature, 1911
Campaign literature, 1912
Campaign literature, 1913
Campaign speeches, 1852
Campaign speeches, 1856
Campaign speeches, 1896
Campaign speeches, 1911
Campaign speeches, 1912
Case files.
Commonplace books.
Family papers
Insurance policies.
Legal correspondence.
Legal documents.
Military maps.
Nautical charts.
Photographs, Original.
Ships' logs.
College of New Jersey (Princeton, N.J.)
College of New Jersey (Princeton, N.J.). Class of 1880.
College of New Jersey (Princeton, N.J.). Ivy Club.
Columbian Law School.
Brandywine (Ship)
Democratic National Publishing Company
Democratic Party (Md.)
Dolphin (Ship)
The Episcopal Church
George Washington (Ship : 1793-1798)
Washington City Orphan Asylum (Washington, D.C.)
Young Rover (Ship)
United States Naval Academy
United States. Congress
United States. Navy
United States. Navy Department
Vandalia (Ship)
Vincennes (Ship)
Severn (Ship)
Silver Knight-Watchman (Washington, D.C.)
Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia
Legare (Ship)
K. F. R. Society
Marion (Ship)
National Mary Washington Memorial Association
Nautilus (Ship)
Newborn (Ship)
Oneida (Ship)
Brooks family
Lee family
Gist family
Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845
Lee, Blair, 1857-1944
Lee, Elizabeth Blair
Lee, Samuel Phillips, 1812-1897
Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924.
Maryland -- Governors -- 19th century.
Maryland -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
Maryland -- History -- 1775-1865.
Maryland -- History -- 1865-1950.
Maryland -- Politics and government -- 1861-1865.
Maryland -- Politics and government -- 1775-1865.
Maryland -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950.
Montgomery County (Md.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
Montgomery County (Md.) -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
United States -- History -- Civil war, 1861-1865.
United States -- History, Naval -- 19th century.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1853-1857.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1857-1861.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1865-1933.