Main content

William Woodhull Notebook


Held at: Princeton University Library: University Archives [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: University Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Woodhull, William

William Woodhull (1741-1824) received an AB from Princeton in 1764 and an AM in 1785. Following graduation he was a pastor at a number of New Jersey Presbyterian congregations between 1768 and 1774. Active in public affairs, he served as a member of the New Jersey Legislature from 1776-1790 and the New Jersey Constitutional Ratifying Convention in 1787. Later, he served variously as a Justice of the Peace in Morris County, Judge of the Circuit Court and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas from 1808 to his death in 1824. He was the first of many members of the Woodhull family to attend Princeton.

The handwritten notebook is hard bound, eight inches by six inches. It is worn with some damage to the spine and front cover. However, its sixty-five pages are intact.

The inside front cover has the inscriptions "Wm Woodhull Book, 1760" and "Wm Woodhull's Book, 1766" as well as "January 1760\S.H.Rose\This Book belongs to Wm. Woodhull." The back cover has the inscription "David Platt\Me polsidet\Name\William Woodhull." David Platt, who died in 1768, was a classmate of Woodhull's. S.H. Rose was not a Princeton alumnus.

The volume's entries range from 1763-1850, but most are undated. It would appear that most of the entries are by Woodhull but since some are dated after his death in 1824 someone else continued to use the book.

The contents of the notebook can be divided into four general groups:

1) Daily catechism to 25 questions of a religious nature (dated from December 4, 1763 to July 29, 1764). Examples are: "What works of Necessity and Mercy may be done on the Sabbath?" and "In what sense can we love our neighbor as ourselves?" This section comprises approximately one-fourth of the book.

2) Two orations. "On the Creation" (January 15, 1764) and "On Death" (undated) written as part of graduation exercises. Each oration is 6-7 pages in length.

3) Recipes and prescriptions for various illness and afflictions. There are approximately 100 such recipes and together they comprise one-half of the book. Some examples are "To cure the cholera," "Cure of Mal de Franse; or the Clap," and "Rheumatick Ointment."

The recipes appear to have been entered in two groups. The first, approximately two-thirds of the total, consists of little more than lists of ingredients. They are separated by carefully drawn lines with two or three recipes per page. This group was apparently written during Woodhull's college days as one of the last entries is dated "July 10 [17]66."

The second group of recipes consists of more extensive entries many dealing with dosages and treatment. They are entered somewhat more haphazardly than the first group. They also extend over a longer period of time with the earliest date being 1802 and the latest 1850, indicating that some were entered by someone other than Woodhull. This group also gives the source for some of the recipes, e.g. "Taken from the National Advocate of June 27th, 1823."

4) A poem (undated) of four pages entitled "A Dialogue between the fallen Angels and a human Spirit just entered into the other worlds..." and extracts (undated) from "Sherloe on Death", "Cato's letters, " and an extract from a sermon by Joshua Huntington delivered in 1816.

(There are also two brief descriptions of the weather in Morris County, dated April 14 and May 24, 1832.)

It would appear that Woodhull used his book for a variety of purposes. After listing some medicinal recipes, he began his daily catechism. After the last catechism and a few blank pages, he began his two orations. Blank pages follow, then the rest of the recipes.

Woodhull arranged his poems and extracts starting from the back of the book. Blank pages between sections would indicate that he intended to partition his book for different purposes.

Little if any insight to the daily life and regimen of the mid-18th century Princeton student can be gained from this book. However, the daily catechism and orations do give an idea of the curriculum at that time. Of more interest to the history of 18th century medicine and pharmacy may be the many recipes and prescriptions.

This volume was donated to the University Archives in 1994 by Elisabeth Thompson Rosamilia (Accession Number AR1994-47).

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.

Described by John S. Riddle, September, 1994.

No appraisal information is available.

University Archives
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

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. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. For instances beyond Fair Use, if copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of materials from the Princeton University Archives.

For instances beyond Fair Use where the copyright is not held by the University, while permission from the Library is not required, 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.

Collection Inventory

William Woodhull Notebook, 1763-1850. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Print, Suggest