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Remsen Family 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

The Remsen family of Brooklyn, N.Y., dates back to Rem Jansen Vanderbeek (d. 1681), one of the earliest Dutch settlers in the New York area. Following the custom of their culture and time, Mr. Vanderbeek's fifteen children all took the name Remsen, which means "son of Rem." The Vanderbeek lineage from that point became known as the Remsen family. Henry Remsen was one of the presidents of the Manhattan Bank. His son William Remsen was the Chairman of the Council of the American Geographical Society, one of the founders of the Third Avenue surface railroad, trustee and later president of the Greenwich Savings Bank, and trustee to the Northern Dispensary.

The collection consists of selected correspondence and documents of members of the Remsen family of New York, including Henry Remsen, John Remsen, Rem I. Remsen, Robert G. Remsen (Princeton Class of 1842), and William Remsen (Princeton Class of 1835). There are thirty-one autograph letters by William Remsen to his father, Henry Remsen, dating from 1832 to 1835 when William was an undergraduate student at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). These letters include frequent requests for money, explanations of expenditures, details of trips, descriptions of the commencements of 1833, 1834, and 1835, and the burning of the Presbyterian Church (1835) where the commencements were held, accounts of the College and how many students were enrolled there, and accounts of the construction of East College (1833) into which William moved. Accompanying them are six of William's report cards (1832-1835), which were sent to his parents, as well as manuscripts of four orations, probably given for the Cliosophic Society in an undergraduate speaking contest, the subjects of which are the evils of novel reading, prejudice, religions, and the corruption of the British government. And there are eight replies to William's letters by his father. In addition, there are several letters of John Remsen and Rem I. Remsen with Thomas Riche, a Philadelphia merchant and innkeeper (d. 1792), regarding trade in Cayenne, French Guiana, in which the Remsen brothers were engaged, and an autograph trade contract (17 December 1764) between John Remsen and Peleg Thurston & Sons. Included are two copies of an agreement (1 June 1764) between Therbault de Chauvelion, Intendant of Cayenne and John Remsen for "sundries," including slaves, horses, wine, and lumber, to be sent to Cayenne.

Gift of Mrs. Charles Remsen.

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Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

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Collection Inventory

5 Letters, 1764-1765. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

11 Letters to Thomas Riche, 1765-1767. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Letter to William Remsen, 7 February 1839. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

31 Letters to His Father Henry Ramsen, With 8 Replies, 1832-1835. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

6 Documents: "Scales of Merit" Containing His Grades and Mailed to His Parents from the University, 1832-1835. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Orations Probably Given to the Cliosophic Society in Undergraduate Speaking Contests, undated. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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