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Guide to the Records of the Founding of the University MC.228

New York University Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2641
university-archives@nyu.edu


New York University Archives

Collection processed by Steven A. Walker and Cynthia Siu, October 1987. Alison Lotto and Bernadette Siddiqi contributed to the description of the collection. Additional description and arrangement by Shannon McDonald. Additional arrangement completed by Katie Ehrlich. Electronic version prepared by Katie Ehrlich.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 12, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Jacqueline Rider for compliance with DACS and ACM Required Elements for Archival Description  , July 2019

Descriptive Summary

Source: Wainwright, Jonathan Mayhew, 1792-1854
Source: Council of the University of the City of New York
Source: Mott, Valentine, 1785-1865
Source: Lewis, Morgan, 1754-1844
Title: New York University Collection of Printed Materials on the Founding of the University
Dates [inclusive]: 1830-1982
Dates [bulk]: 1830-1860
Abstract: New York University (NYU) was founded in 1831. This collection contains documentation surrounding that event, as well as material from subsequent decades pertaining to NYU's early history.
Quantity: 4 Linear Feet in 7 manuscript boxes and 2 half manuscript boxes
Location: Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least two business days prior to your research visit to coordinate access.
Language: Materials are in English.
Call Phrase: MC.228

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Historical Note

New York University was founded as the University of the City of New-York in 1831. It retained this name until 1896. The University's founders envisioned the school as a departure from other American institutions of higher learning. It would be a nonsectarian university and educate the working classes with a practical and useful curriculum in modern language, sciences and politics. In 1830 a group of men, comprised of local merchants and businessmen, issued "Considerations upon the Expediency and the Means of Establishing a University in the City of New-York," addressed to the citizens of the city. They desired to expand educational opportunities beyond the "privileged class" by establishing a university to prepare young men for a variety of occupations, from merchant to physician.

The New York State Legislature officially incorporated the University of the City of New-York in 1831. In 1833 the University celebrated its first commencement and graduated three students. The University's first permanent home was completed in 1835. The ornate, marble, neo-Gothic building housed classrooms, apartments and office space as well as a chapel. Before its construction, classes were held further downtown near City Hall.

For additional information, see:

"Considerations Upon the Expediency and the Means of Establishing a University of the City of New-York," 1830; The Records of the Founding of the University; RG 1.00; Box 2, Folder 1; New York University Archives.

Dim, Joan Marans and Nancy Cricco, The Miracle on Washington Square: New York University, Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001.

Jones, Theodore Francis, ed. New York University: 1832-1932, New York: The New York University Press, 1933.

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Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection is comprised of primary materials related to New York University's founding. These include the documents and manifestos the founders drafted to establish the University as well as some of the earliest articles written about NYU, recollections from students and material about the University Building. Materials also highlight certain episodes in the first half-century of the University, such as the 1881 effort to abolish the undergraduate department, resignation of the University's first Chancellor, James A. Matthews, and the firing of various professors. The collection also includes 20th-century material related to the early years of the university. Contained within the collection are clippings, correspondence, circulars, addresses and publications. Most of the material is either bound or has been photocopied.

Arrangement

The collections is arranged in four series:

  1. Documents Related to Founding
  2. Early Documents
  3. Published Articles
  4. Clippings and Publications

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Wainwright, Jonathan Mayhew, 1792-1854
  • Anthon, George, George C. (George Christian), 1820-1877
  • Mason, Cyrus, 1798-1865
  • Gallatin, Albert, 1761-1849
  • Mathews, J.M. (James McFarlane), 1785-1870
  • Mott, Valentine, 1785-1865
  • Lewis, Morgan, 1754-1844
  • Loomis, Elias, 1811-1889
  • Frelinghuysen, Theodore, 1787-1862
  • Henry, C.S. (Caleb Sprague), 1804-1884
  • Draper, John William, 1811-1882

Subject Organizations

  • Council of the University of the City of New York
  • New York University. Administration
  • New York University -- History

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

The collection was compiled from various sources and donors within the University.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions, but special care must be given to fragile original documents.

Use Restrictions

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by the creator are maintained by New York University. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from New York University Archives, (212) 998-2646, university-archives@nyu.edu.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); New York University Collection of Printed Materials on the Founding of the University; MC 228; box number; folder number; New York University Archives, New York University Libraries.

Related Materials

RG 3.0.1 Records of the Office of the Chancellor

Processing Information

Materials were placed in archival boxes and folders.

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Container List

Series I: Documents Related to Founding, 1830-1956

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Correspondence re: Journal of the Proceedings of the Literary Convention
1956 September 23
Box: 1 Folder : 2 1830 Establishment Papers (reproductions)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3-6 (Mixed Materials [31142063004181]) Journal of the Proceedings of a Convention of Literary and Scientific Gentlemen (multiple copies)
1830 October, 1933 March
Box: 8 Folder : 1 (Books [31142063004256])
Box: 9
Box: 2 Folder : 1 "Considerations Upon the Expediency and the Means of Establishing a University in the City of New York" by Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright
1830
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Memorial to the New York State Legislature from the Council of the University of the CIty of New York (typewritten copy)
1830 December
Box: 2 Folder : 3 An Address to the Citizens of New York on the Claim of Columbia College and the New University to Their Patronage
1830

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Series II: Early Documents, 1833-1929

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 1 An Exposition of the Reasons for the Resignation of Some of the Professors in the University of the City of New York by Henry Vethake, John Mulligan and John Torrey (4 copies)
1833 November
Box: 6 Folder : 2 A Letter to the Councillors of the University of the City of New York: From the Professors of the Faculty of Science and Letters
1838
Box: 6 Folder : 3 (Mixed Materials [31142063004231]) An Exposition by the Council of the University of the City of New York, Respecting the Late Measures of Retrenchment Adopted in That Institution, and Which Led to the Dismissal of Some of the Professors in the Faculty of Science and Letters (3 copies)
1838
Box: 8 Folder : 2 (Mixed Materials [31142063004256])
Box: 6 Folder : 4 History of the Controversy in the University of the City of New York; With Original Documents and an Appendix (2 copies)
1838
Box: 6 Folder : 5 The University of New York and the Professors Notes of Investigation by William C. Noyes
1839 April-May
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Report of the Regents of the University in Relation to the University of the City of New York (2 copies)
1840 January
Box: 6 Folder : 7 Circular of a Committee of the Council of the University of the City of New York
1847
Box: 6 Folder : 8 Circular of a Committee of the Council of the University of the City of New York (2 copies)
1848
Box: 7 Folder : 1 Report of the Committee on Literature on the Petition of Hamilton and Geneva Colleges, and New York University
1859 February
Box: 7 Folder : 2 "Narrative and Documents Connected with the Displacement of the Professor of the Greek Language and Literature in the University of the City of New York," by George C. Anthon, A.M. (4 copies)
1851 April 2
Box: 7 Folder : 3 Circular of the Faculty
1850 September
Box: 7 Folder : 4 Events of 1881
1881
Box: 7 Folder : 5 Faculty Circular and Newspaper Clippings
1881
Box: 7 Folder : 6 Literary Digest Controversy Adjusted
1929 November 15
Box: 8 Folder : 3 An Act Incorporating the University of the City of New York, passed April, 18, 1831
1831

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Series III: Published Articles about NYU, 1853-1883

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 1 "Temple Court" by Cornelius Mathews [an article descriptive of New York University While Located at Clinton Hall, 1832-1835]
1883 July
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Description of the University Building from The Family Magazine
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Putnam's Monthly: Educational Institutions of New York
1853

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Series IV: Clippings and Publications, 1829-1982

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 New York University: W.R. Martin's Historical Collections
1829-1830
Box: 4 University of the City of New York
1836
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Fort Washington by Reginold Pelham Bolton
1902
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Washington and His Army in Bergen County by Arthur J. O'Dea, correspondence
1957
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Around the Square, 1830-1890, ed. Mindy Cantor (3 copies)
1982
Box: 5 Folder : 4 "My Old Professors" by F.N. Zabriskie
1884
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Clippings of the Inauguration of Chancellor Frelinghuysen
1839

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