Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Irving, Washington, 1783-1859.
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Washington Irving Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1


Consists of selected manuscripts, correspondence, and documents of Washington Irving, often called the first American man of letters.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of selected manuscripts, correspondence, and documents of Washington Irving. The manuscripts include a holograph leaf for his book The Alhambra, eight holograph leaves titled "Illustration to the Legend of Prince Ahmed," and one holograph leaf labeled "ch. 17." The correspondence includes letters to Benjamin F. Butler, Stephen C. Massett, Pliny Miles, Charles Scribner (founder of the publishing house of Charles Scribner's Sons), and Robert C. Winthrop. Also included are an incomplete document which bears Irving's signature as executor, a signed portrait engraving of Irving, and some original pencil sketches which may have been for an edition of Irving's A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, first published in 1809.

Collection Creator Biography:

Irving, Washington, 1783-1859.

Washington Irving, often called the first American man of letters and father of the American short story, was an author, essayist, travel book writer, biographer, and columnist; he is best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle." He was born in New York City as the youngest of eleven children. He studied law but practiced only briefly. His career as a writer started in journals and newspapers. He traveled widely in Europe, and it was after a seventeen-year period abroad with his brothers in England that he returned to the United States as the famous American author "Geoffrey Crayon," having successfully published The Sketch-Book (in New York in 1819 and in London in 1820) while he was away. In 1842 he was appointed minister to Spain, and in 1846 Irving retired to "Sunnyside," the family home in Tarrytown, N.Y., where he continued to write.

Collection History


The manuscript pages for "Illustration to the Legend of Prince Ahmed" were a gift of Philip Ashton Rollins, Princeton Class of 1889, in May 1940 .

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

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

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:

Washington Irving 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:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1