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Robert Smith Collection

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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

Smith, Robert, 1722-1777

Robert Smith was considered by many to be the foremost master-builder, or carpenter-architect, of the Colonial period, and has been called "America's most important eighteenth-century architect.". Nassau Hall at the College of New Jersey was the third building he designed in the American colonies. Smith was also responsible for the college president's house, built concurrently with Nassau Hall (1753-1756). Other important works by Smith include St. Peter's Church, Benjamin Franklin's house, Carpenter's Hall, and the Walnut Street Prison, all in Philadelphia, and University Hall at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Smith was also involved in the struggle for American independence. He produced designs for military architecture to protect Philadelphia from British attack, such as the elaborate system of underwater fortifications in the Delaware River that stymied British communications off the coast, and the Continental Army barracks (1777) at Billingsport, New Jersey.

The material consists of correspondence and documents of Robert Smith which are chiefly related to the building of The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and of the house of the College president. Included is correspondence with the Rev. Aaron Burr, second president of the College of New Jersey, and receipts in payment for the building of Nassau Hall, dated August 19, 1757. There are accounts of monies paid to Smith on behalf of the Trustees of the College signed by Richard Stockton. In addtion, there are several receipts in payment for windows and other material related to the building of Nassau Hall and the President's house by the Rev. John Brainerd, Aaron Burr, David Ogden, Charles Read, and Jonathan Sergeant, dated between 1755 and 1758. Also, there is an autograph document signed by Smith and dated August 5, 1790, regarding the title of a 53 acre tract of land In Penns Neck, New Jersey.

Folders are 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.

Robert Smith's description and title of a 53 acre tract in Penn's Neck, N.J., was a gift of C. C. Abbott, Princeton Historical Society in February 1901.

All other accessions were originally part of the Pyne-Henry Collection. Various AM.

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on August 16, 2007. Finding aid written by Traci Ballou-Broadnax on August 21, 2007. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Publisher
Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
2007
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.

Collection Inventory

Bill for services and material to the estate of Aaron Burr (Pres.), 1757 October-November. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

"account of monies paid Robert Smith in behalf of the Trustees of New Jersey College by Richard Stockton", 1755 July-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Document by Robert Smith, 1760 July 31. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Statements of accounts with various people and with the College, 1755-1756. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Receipt by Robert Smith to Aaron Burr for 2:60:4 pounds "on account for building the College of New Jersey", 1756 February. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Description and title of the 53 acre tract in upper Penn's Neck, Salem Co., belonging to Joseph Bullock, 1790 July 19. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

An order from Robert Smith to Jonathan Sergeant to pay 37:3:9 pounds, to Charles Reed for 8500 feet of lumber for window cases for the College (Nassau Hall), a transfer signed by Charles Reed to David Ogden, a receipt to Jonathan Sergeant signed by David Ogden, 1755. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Document from Robert Smith to Rev. John Brainerd, 1756 September 6. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Receipts from Robert Smith to Aaron Burr in payment for building the College of New Jersey (Nassau Hall), 1755-1757. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Receipts from Robert Smith to Jonathan Sergeant in payment for building the College of New Jersey (Nassau Hall), 1755-1758. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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