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Collection Overview

Humphrey, Luzern, 1811-1857
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Luzern Humphrey Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
circa 1838-2014 (mostly 1852-1854)
1 box and 0.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists primarily of material relating to Ohio farmer Luzern Humphrey's overland journey from Kanesville, Iowa, to the Oregon Territory in 1852, his life there through 1853, and his return to Iowa in 1854, including his journal and 51 letters to his wife in Ohio. Also included are some papers relating to the family of William Miller, the founder of Adventism.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily consists of material relating to Luzern Humphrey's overland journey from Kanesville, Iowa, to the Oregon Territory in 1852, his life there through 1853, and his return to Iowa in 1854, including his journal (3/10 - 7/28/1852), 51 letters (1852-1854) to his wife, Harriet Jane, in Wellington, Ohio, a mileage guide, notes, a short diary (8/3 - 11/15/1853), translations of Walla Walla and Nez Perce words, and an account book of his expenses. Among the places mentioned are Council Bluffs, Fairfield, and Iowa City in Iowa; Canyonville, Fort Dalles, Grave Creek Valley, Knox Butte, Milwaukie, and Willamette Forks in the Oregon Territory; and Scotts Bluff, Fort Hall, and Fort Laramie along the Oregon Trail.

There are also some papers, including letters, a diary, and miscellaneous ephemera, relating to the family of Baptist minister and founder of Adventism William Miller (1782-1849). Most relate to William's son, George W. Miller (1816-1874), who married Luzern Humphrey's eldest daughter, Inez Humphrey (1842-1928).

Thomas Lee Jacob's research materials on Luzern Humphrey's trail diary, including a transcription that Jacob's authored, are also included.


The collection is arranged into two series: "Luzern Humphrey Papers" and "Thomas Lee Jacobs Collection of Luzern Humphrey Transcripts and Miller Family Papers."

Collection Creator Biography:

Humphrey, Luzern, 1811-1857

Luzern Humphrey (1811-1857) was a farmer and millwright from Wellington in Lorain County, Ohio. Humphrey, along with three of his brothers and others, traveled by caravan to Oregon Territory in 1852. Humphrey remained there for over a year before returning in 1854. He had intended to publish a guide to the Oregon Trail based on his journey, but his efforts proved unsuccessful.

Collection History


Luzern Humphrey papers were purchased from David M. Watson in September 2009 (AM 2010-35). The transcripts and Miller family papers were a gift of Thomas Lee Jacobs, 2014 (AM 2015-24).

Custodial History

The manuscript journal (2 parts), previously part of the Rollins Collection and catalogued as C0199 (no. 534), has been integrated into this collection.


No material was separated during 2014 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by John Delaney on September 29, 2009. Finding aid written by John Delaney on September 30, 2009. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager '2015 in 2012. Finding aid updated by Faith Charlton in September 2014.

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:

Luzern Humphrey 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