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Alexander Marshall Thompson Letters to His Family


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

Thompson, Alexander Marshall

Alexander Marshall Thompson graduated with the Class of 1893 from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University.) Class Day Exercises for the Class of 1893 were held at the First Presbyterian Church in Princeton, N.J., on June 12, 1893. The salutary was delivered by Philip King, and the class oration was given by Thompson. From 1820 to 1940 Thompson was Dean of the School of Law at the University of Pittsburgh, and later a judge in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The collection consists of twenty-seven letters and one report card (1891) sent by Alexander Marshall Thompson to his family in St. Paul, Minnesota, while he was a student at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) from 1889 to 1893. The letters are addressed to his mother, father, his brothers, Harold and Huston, his sister, Fanny, and to William M. Thompson; almost all are signed "Marshall.". Thompson gives a detailed picture of the life of a student at the College of New Jersey at the end of the nineteenth century. He writes about classes he is attending, visiting speakers, his friends, the cost of buying shoes, clothes, train tickets, and textbooks, and doing his laundry. In all of his letters, Thompson gives a detailed athletic bulletin about games he has attended on and off campus between the different teams of the College of New Jersey and other colleges such as Harvard and Yale. In a long, detailed, letter to his brother Huston, dated October 11, 1891, Thompson writes about his classes and his professors, and informs Huston that he is taking a class on jurisprudence taught by Woodrow Wilson, who "is about the best man in the faculty." In other letters, he describes the parties and "Balls" he attended, and his trips to New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. He writes about initiations at the Clio and Whig societies, the construction of the two white marble buildings to house both societies, the Glee Club, the construction of a "Chemical building" and a new dormitory. In a letter dated March 27, 1890, he mentions applying for an editorial position at the Daily Princetonian. In another letter, dated November 16, 1890, he gives news about the college receiving "one of the largest gifts in its history" from a lady [Harriet Crocker Alexander] to build a commencement hall, which was to become Alexander Hall. He also talks about the "junior prom attended by Mrs. Wanamaker and all the swell people of New York and Philadelphia." In several of his letters Thompson talks about the "Junior Oration" contest he entered, qualifying for the "Lynde Debate," and of commencement. Most of his letters mention his family's difficult financial situation due to the cost of his education..

Folders are organized in chronological order.

Gift of Mrs. John Farr Simmons, wife of John Farr Simmons, Princeton Class of 1913, on June 15, 1967.

AM 19247.

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use.

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

Correspondence with Harold Huston and His Parents, 1889. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Correspondence with His Parents and Will, 1890. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Correspondence with His Father, Huston, and Will, 1891. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Correspondence with Harold and His Father, 1892. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Correspondence with His Mother, 1893. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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