You are here


The founding of Princeton University is nearly as complex as the courses that have been and continue to be taught within its hallowed lecture halls. The College of New Jersey (as Princeton University was known until 1896) was a child of the Great Awakening, an institution born in opposition to the religious tenets that had ruled the colonial era.

  • The Library of the College of New Jersey (which in 1896 became Princeton University) was first destroyed during the Revolutionary War and then was burned again in 1802. Since 1803, the collections have remained intact. Regrettably, only one shelf of books remains from the early days of the Library and consists of only a few titles falling into two groups.

        I. Books from the Library of Governor Belcher, first major donor.
       II. Books from other sources, such as Nicholas Bayard, Class of 1757, and "his Royal Highness, George, Prince of Wales, 1757."

    For a list of these books see the Collections File under College of New Jersey.

    For books presented by Thomas Hollis (1720-74) to Princeton, such as that at left, see James Holly Hanford, "Ut Spargam; Thomas Hollis Books at Princeton" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XX, 4 (Summer, 1959) pp. 165-74. [full text]

    See also William S. Dix, The Princeton University Library in the Eighteenth Century (Princeton, 1978) [full text]

Research Tools for Printed Material (Books, Maps, Prints, etc.)