Contents and Arrangement

Regular service, 1866-1898

2 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The records in this section include correspondence and papers about MacMurray's career in the regular army, which he entered in February 1866, including service records and correspondence about commissions, promotions, and detail as professor of Military Science and Tactics at the University of Missouri (1872-1873) and at Cornell (1873-1875). There is little documentation, however, about his detached service at Union College, Schenectady, NY (1879-1883).

The papers include some correspondence and notifications MacMurray received during his service in camps on Buck Creek, Texas and Indian territory (1876), and an undated report or testimonial from sergeant William Boyd about desertions in the army when MacMurray was in charge of Battery "L" 1st Artillery (circa 1883). Of particular interest are MacMurray's papers for June-August 1884, when he served as Special Inspector of Indian Affairs at the Military Department of the Columbia at Vancouver Barracks. Preceded by copies of military correspondence and reports from March 1883, the papers include reports received as well as draft reports by MacMurray himself (July-October, 1884). A notebook that MacMurray kept during this period may be found in Series 5 (Box 85, folder 6). MacMurray recounted his observations about the American Indians in this area and his meetings with their leader and prophet Smohalla in his lecture 'The 'Dreamers' of the Columbia River Valley in Washington Territory' at the Albany Institute in 1886. Additional views about Smohalla's teachings can be found in letters that MacMurray wrote to General Miles in November 1890 (Box 2, folder 3).

The correspondence and papers for 1892-1893 mainly consist of recommendations for a promotion, and do not contain records concerning his service in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, during the cholera scare. The records for 1896-1898, when MacMurray was in command of the Post of Fort Barrancas, Florida, include his reports about the outbreak of yellow fever in 1897.


No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Collection History


No appraisal information is available.


The John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers were reprocessed with the generous support of Adelaide MacMurray Cooper, Shirley S. French, Joan Ipsen, Frank G. MacMurray '40, Worth D. MacMurray '77, Alison Starkey, Lois MacMurray Starkey, Mills Ten Eyck Jr., Christine Wainwright, and William Waldron. Digitization of the films in Box 161-167, 172, and 176-184 was made possible by the generous support of the East Asian Studies Program, Princeton University.

Processing Information

This collection was reprocessed by Victoria Coleman '99 in 1998 and by Helene van Rossum in 2002 and 2008-2009 with the assistance of Jessica Solano, Ganga Bey '09, Pauline Nalikka '11, Marli Wang '11, and Jamie LaMontagne '11, and additional help from Liz Parsons '11 and Jeremy Russell '12. Finding aid written by Helene van Rossum in 2002 and 2009-2010. With thanks to Nancy N. Tomasko, East Asia Library Journal, Princeton University, for help with transcriptions, and to Shuwen Cao, East Asian Library, Princeton University, for assistance in identifying the contents of the films.

As part of a collections survey in 2020 this finding aid was updated to reflect the consolidation of the following ranges of boxes containing av materials: 161-175, 176-184, 185-190, 202-214. Each box now retains the first box number in the range, with item-level notes detailing the previous number. All labeled items retain their original titles;only the box numbers have changed.

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:

Regular service; John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers, MC094, Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 3-4