Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Alexander, Stephen, 1806-1883
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Stephen Alexander Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
2 boxes and 0.8 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-2


Consists primarily of correspondence of nineteenth-century American astronomer Stephen Alexander.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection chiefly consists of correspondence between Alexander and John S. Hart, Joseph Henry, Alexander Dallas Bache, Benjamin F. Joslin, Francis Baily, Charles Babbage, de Rothenburg, James Challis, John T. Nixon, Caleb Smith Green, and William S. Stryker. The collection also contains a journal of a sea voyage, dated June 28 to August 6, 1860; an 1839 certificate of membership to the American Philosophical Society, signed by Bache; a receipt of funds from Stephen W. Woodbridge, treasurer of the Nassau Hall Bible Society; and handwritten notes of an address before the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

Collection Creator Biography:

Alexander, Stephen, 1806-1883

Stephen Alexander was an astronomer, a mathematician, an author, and an educator, under whose influence astronomy first developed as a separate discipline at Princeton University. He graduated with honors from Union College at the age of eighteen. A cousin and also a brother-in-law of Joseph Henry, he collaborated with Henry in his scientific investigations at Albany Academy and accompanied him to Princeton in 1832. Appointed tutor in mathematics in 1833 and professor of astronomy in 1840, Alexander's association with Princeton continued for fifty years. He gave Princeton's first discrete course in astronomy and the College's first astronomy building, the Halsted Observatory, was built through his influence and from his plans. He studied the atmospheres of Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter, and led expeditions for the Coast and Geodetic Survey and the National Academy of Sciences to observe solar eclipses. He was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1859 and was chosen as one of the original fifty members of the National Academy of Sciences in 1862.

Collection History


Some items were acquired from the estate of Ellen J. and Caroline M. Alexander; and some were purchased from dealers. Various AM.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Finding aid written by James Flannery on January 10, 2006. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

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.

Credit this material:

Stephen Alexander 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 1-2