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Collection Overview

Stearns, Lewis French, 1847-1892
Lewis French Stearns Correspondence
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists of correspondence of Lewis French Stearns (Princeton Class of 1867) from the American Civil War years. The letters shed light not only on general student life at the University in the mid-nineteenth century, but also on the local effects of the war--on the University, its students, and on the town of Princeton, N.J.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of selected 1860s correspondence of Stearns (Princeton Class of 1867). The nineteen letters shed light on the effects of the Civil War on Princeton, while providing a cross-sectional look at Princeton student life at the time. The early letters, written in 1862 and 1863, are from Lewis's friend Peter Jacobus (Princeton Class of 1868) and Lewis's brother Seargent Prentiss Stearns (Princeton Class of 1864); at that time Lewis was a student at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. The boys write about student life, the competition for the junior oration, their classes and professors, baseball, mutual friends, and the students who left the college to join the army. In a letter dated November 5, 1862, Jacobus includes a poem about Lewis's love life; others include ink drawings and humor. In a letter dated November 19, 1862, Sergeant describes two murders that were discovered in town, including that of a Princeton jeweler. In his first letter home to his mother and father, Rev. Jonathan French Stearns, in Newark, N.J., from the College of New Jersey, dated June 19, 1863, Lewis writes about students building a fire on campus around the cannon and burning an effigy of Clement Vallandigham, the most prominent of the "Copperheads" or the "Peaceful Democrats," to celebrate his return to Ohio. He also writes to his brother Seargent and to his sister, Annie, describing his classes, the faculty, examinations, and the burning down of a barn and of a poor man's house in Jugtown, N.J.

Also included are typed transcriptions of all the letters.


The letters are arranged in chronological order.

Collection Creator Biography:

Stearns, Lewis French, 1847-1892

Lewis French Stearns graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1867. He obtained his A.M. degree from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1870 and his D.D. in 1881. He was Professor of Symantic Theology at Bangor Seminary, 1879-1892.

Lewis's brother Seargent Prentiss Stearns graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1864, and obtained an A.M. degree from there in 1867. He was U.S. Consul for British North America between the years 1882 and 1885.

Their father, Rev. Jonathan French Stearns, was a minister at the First Presbyterian Church (Newark, N.J.), the first church in Newark, N.J.

Collection History


The material was purchased on October 20, 1990 .

AM 90-46


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:

Lewis French Stearns Correspondence; 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