Jonathan Dickinson Collection
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. 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
Jonathan Dickinson, Princeton University's first President, died after only four and a half months in office and is chiefly remembered for having been the leader of the group who, in his words, "first concocted the plan and foundation of the College.". Born in Hatfield, Mass., he studied theology, and in 1706 graduated from the Collegiate School of Connecticut (now Yale University). In 1709 he was ordained minister of the church in Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), New Jersey. In spite of opposition, Dickinson and three other pastors (Ebenezer Pemberton, Aaron Burr, Sr., and John Pierson) and three laymen (William Smith, Peter Van Brugh Livingston, and William Peartree Smith) began to plan the founding of the college. Led by Dickinson, this group applied to Governor Lewis Morris for a charter and, following his death, renewed their application to Acting Governor John Hamilton, who granted a charter on October 22, 1746. The trustees appointed Dickinson as president in April 1747, and classes began in May in Elizabethtown, with a student body of eight to ten members.
The collection consists chiefly of correspondence and documents of Jonathan Dickinson relating to his establishment of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). The correspondence includes Dickinson's letter (30 January 1746/7) to Theophilus Howell soliciting his help to raise funds to erect the College of New Jersey, and an unaddressed letter (presumably also to Howell, 3 March 1746/7) explaining his vision for the college and naming his selection of trustees. The documents include Dickinson's last will and testament with a certificate of probate attached, a bond to convey land, and an indenture document of William Miller to Jonathan and Mary Dickinson. Also included are two documents signed by Mary Dickinson to John Odell et al for the release of the house where Dickinson died, several pages of accounts of Dickinson with William Williamson dated 1728-1730, and a bill for merchandise to James Alexander signed by Dickinson (1763).
Arranged by accession number.
The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.
Finding aid written by James Flannery on February 7, 2006. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.
During 2022, restrictions on original materials where researchers were required to use surrogates were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.
No appraisal information is available.
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.