Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Thompson, Alexander Marshall
Alexander Marshall Thompson Letters to His Family
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1


Consists of letters written by Alexander Marshall Thompson while he was attending the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) from 1889 to 1893, giving a view of a student's social, athletic and academic life, while providing valuable information regarding the history of the College.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of twenty-seven letters and one report card (1891) sent by Alexander Marshall Thompson to his family in St. Paul, Minnesota, while he was a student at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) from 1889 to 1893. The letters are addressed to his mother, father, his brothers, Harold and Huston, his sister, Fanny, and to William M. Thompson; almost all are signed "Marshall.". Thompson gives a detailed picture of the life of a student at the College of New Jersey at the end of the nineteenth century. He writes about classes he is attending, visiting speakers, his friends, the cost of buying shoes, clothes, train tickets, and textbooks, and doing his laundry. In all of his letters, Thompson gives a detailed athletic bulletin about games he has attended on and off campus between the different teams of the College of New Jersey and other colleges such as Harvard and Yale. In a long, detailed, letter to his brother Huston, dated October 11, 1891, Thompson writes about his classes and his professors, and informs Huston that he is taking a class on jurisprudence taught by Woodrow Wilson, who "is about the best man in the faculty." In other letters, he describes the parties and "Balls" he attended, and his trips to New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. He writes about initiations at the Clio and Whig societies, the construction of the two white marble buildings to house both societies, the Glee Club, the construction of a "Chemical building" and a new dormitory. In a letter dated March 27, 1890, he mentions applying for an editorial position at the Daily Princetonian. In another letter, dated November 16, 1890, he gives news about the college receiving "one of the largest gifts in its history" from a lady [Harriet Crocker Alexander] to build a commencement hall, which was to become Alexander Hall. He also talks about the "junior prom attended by Mrs. Wanamaker and all the swell people of New York and Philadelphia." In several of his letters Thompson talks about the "Junior Oration" contest he entered, qualifying for the "Lynde Debate," and of commencement. Most of his letters mention his family's difficult financial situation due to the cost of his education..


Folders are organized in chronological order.

Collection Creator Biography:

Thompson, Alexander Marshall

Alexander Marshall Thompson graduated with the Class of 1893 from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University.) Class Day Exercises for the Class of 1893 were held at the First Presbyterian Church in Princeton, N.J., on June 12, 1893. The salutary was delivered by Philip King, and the class oration was given by Thompson. From 1820 to 1940 Thompson was Dean of the School of Law at the University of Pittsburgh, and later a judge in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Collection History


Gift of Mrs. John Farr Simmons, wife of John Farr Simmons, Princeton Class of 1913, on June 15, 1967 .

AM 19247.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

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:

Alexander Marshall Thompson Letters to His Family; 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