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COLLECTION Identifier: HUG 1680

Benjamin Peirce personal archive

Benjamin Peirce (1778-1831), a Harvard historian and librarian, was born in Salem, Massachusetts. He earned his AB from Harvard in 1801, and was a merchant and state legislator prior to his appointment as college librarian in 1826. This collection contains personal correspondence, student papers, political writings, and manuscripts, notes, and letters relating to Peirce's work on the history of Harvard University, dated 1787-1832.

Dates

  • 1787-1832

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Use

Open for research.

Extent

.81 cubic feet (2 document boxes, 1 flat box, 1 pamphlet binder)

This collection contains personal correspondence, student papers, political writings, and manuscripts, notes, and letters relating to Benjamin Peirce's work on the history of Harvard University, dated 1787-1832. Includes Peirce's 1797 admittatur to Harvard; essays he wrote as an undergraduate on topics like Thomas Paine and civil liberty; and correspondence from Harvard classmate Jacob Cummings and merchant Dudley Leavitt Pickman. Drafts of articles and political addresses during Peirce's tenure as a Massachusetts state lawmaker largely concern the War of 1812. The collection includes a number of notebooks and memoranda books that comprised Peirce's research for A History of Harvard University from 1636 to the American Revolution (1833); the volumes contain excerpts and copies of College laws, votes, curriculum, and other administrative records. He collected further information on Harvard history through his correspondence with politician Paine Wingate (Harvard AB 1759), dated 1830-1831. There are also some miscellaneous legal documents and manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

Benjamin Peirce (1778-1831), a Harvard historian and librarian, was born on September 30, 1778 in Salem, Massachusetts. He received an AB from Harvard in 1801, and following his graduation joined his father's shipping business; he also served in the Massachusetts General Court. In 1826, Peirce was appointed Librarian of Harvard. He compiled a Catalogue of the Library of Harvard University, which was published in 1830. Peirce's A History of Harvard University from 1636 to the American Revolution was published following his death on July 26, 1831.

Peirce married Lydia Ropes Nichols (1781-1868) in 1803; they had four children, Charlotte Elizabeth (1804-1888), John Nichols (1806-1810), Benjamin, Jr. (1809-1880), and Charles Henry (1814-1855). Benjamin Peirce, Jr. (Harvard AB 1829), was the Perkins Professor Astronomy at Harvard.

Arrangement

Series in the collection
  1. Admittatur
  2. Personal correspondence and papers
  3. Papers relating to the History of Harvard University

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Benjamin Peirce, 1846; Grenville H. Norcross, 1909; and Charles Wingate, 1942.

Related Materials

Collections in the Harvard University Archives
  1. Peirce, Benjamin, 1778-1831. Student lecture notes of Benjamin Peirce, 1797-1798 (HUC 8797.349.69):

Inventory update

This document last updated 2018 October 22.
Title
Peirce, Benjamin, 1778-1831. Benjamin Peirce personal archive, 1787-1832: an inventory
Author
Harvard University Archives
Date
03/15/2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
EAD ID
hua14018

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

Contact:
Pusey Library
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461