Contents and Arrangement

Papers of Blair Lee, 1740-1946 (mostly 1857-1925)

218 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The papers of Blair Lee, lawyer and U.S. senator, consist of his writings, correspondence, legal files, documents, financial material, miscellaneous material, printed matter, and papers of others. The writings contain essays in literature, philosophy, and politics, and course notebooks in languages, science, the Bible, and other subjects while an undergraduate at Princeton (1876-1880), as well as notes taken at Columbian Law School (1880-1883), and manuscripts of political speeches.

The correspondence is indicative of the close relationship between Lee and his parents, Elizabeth Blair Lee and Samuel Phillips Lee, as well as the warm family ties he held with the extended Blair and Lee families and later with the Brooke family, the relatives of Anne Clymer Brooke Lee, whom he married in 1891. Of special interest are the letters to Lee written from France by his sons who served as officers in the U.S. army during World War I. The active political role Lee took on a local, county, state, and national level, culminating in his election to the U.S. Senate in 1913 to fill the unexpired term of Isidor Rayner (1850-1912), is reflected in the correspondence which includes letters by William Jennings Bryan (1860-1825), congressman and unsuccessful candidate for president in 1896, 1900, and 1908, President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), and John Walter Smith (1845-1925), congressmen and senator from Maryland. The correspondence also includes letters regarding Lee's ill-fated Maryland gubernatorial race (1911) and the presidential election campaign of Woodrow Wilson (1912).

In addition, there are letters pertaining to Lee's legal and business interests, as well as general correspondence containing letters dealing with Grace Episcopal Church in Silver Spring, recreational clubs such as the Takoma Park Gun Club, Princeton and Ivy Club alumni activities, the administration of Silver Spring Farm, and friends dating back to Lee's youth and Princeton years. The correspondence also contains letterbooks including copies of his letters to family and friends, as well as political, legal, and business letters, and invitations, calling cards, and address books. Among the legal files are papers for cases handled by Lee, such as the Brown and Munsell gun case, the estates of Senator James Beck (1822-1890), Morgan Lester, Francis W. Lusby, Allan McLane (1823-1897), and Thomas W. Wise, as well as a challenge to the will of Judge Joseph Holt (1807-1894), references to some French spoliation claims, and many other miscellaneous cases. The documents and financial matters contain receipts, checkbooks, ledgers, account books, canceled checks, and insurance policies for Lee's farm, real estate holdings, and personal matters.

His interests encompassed legal, philanthropic, fraternal, and political groups, and the organizational files include correspondence, documents, and miscellaneous material in varying degrees for the District of Columbia Bar Association, the Metropolitan Club, the National Junior Republic, the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia, the National Mary Washington Association, the Washington City Orphan Asylum, and the Democratic National Publishing Company, primarily for the Silver Knight-Watchman.

The collection also includes family photographs, juvenilia, and memorabilia relating to Lee's early academic and religious training as well as his years at Princeton and Columbian Law School. There are political, legal, and business papers contained in the miscellaneous material of the collection, as well as blueprints, maps, and architectural renderings. Scrapbooks containing political newspaper clippings and other printed matter concerning Lee's political, legal, and business interests are included in the papers.

The material in papers of others pertains mainly to Lee's family as represented by his wife, parents, and sons, Edward Brooke Lee and Phillips Blair Lee as well as miscellaneous family members. Also found are the legal papers and correspondence of George H. Lamar (1865-1945) and William H. Lamar (1859-1928), lawyers of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and correspondence and printed matter of Judge Joseph Holt.


Arranged by genre of material.

Collection History


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:

Papers of Blair Lee; Blair and Lee Family Papers, C0614, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (mss): Boxes 249-440; 442-448; 454-469; P-000095; P-000094