Matthew Vassar Papers


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The Matthew Vassar Papers digital collection contains material from the Matthew Vassar Papers available at the Archives & Special Collections Library at Vassar College.  The materials come primarily from Series 1 in the collection, incorporating items related to Vassar College, including:

  • Act to Incorporate
  • Notes, memos, etc.
  • Correspondence
  • Letters of application and draft replies
  • Letter book
  • College grounds admissions
  • Addresses to the Trustees and the College
  • Deeds, mortgages, inventories, etc.

Original Documents

The original documents that comprise the Matthew Vassar Papers are available from the Archives & Special Collections Library.  A finding aid is available for this collection.

About Matthew Vassar and the Matthew Vassar Papers

Matthew Vassar, founder of Vassar College, was born in the County of Norfolk, England, emigrated with his parents and other family members to Dutchess County, N.Y., in 1796. Vassar College was chartered in 1861 and opened its doors to students in 1865. It was not the first venture in higher education for women, but the extensive advertising and publicity for the college brought the question of women's education to popular attention with greater force than ever before. Matthew Vassar strongly believed in women's mental capacity, in proving that woman's mind was equal to man's; and he intended that his college should both prove that point and prepare women to live in the modern world. Among the letters to the college, there are a number of people with whom Matthew Vassar maintained a substantial correspondence. These include Martin Brewer Anderson at the University of Rochester (where the originals are held); Sarah J. Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book, a strong early supporter who was responsible for the removal of "Female" from the college's name; Benson J. Lossing; Charles A. Raymond; John H. Raymond (President of Vassar College, 1864-1878) and Sarah L. Stilson, one of Vassar College's first students (graduated 1869). The portion of the collection which deals with Matthew Vassar's estate "Springside" contains the architect's drawings. These are housed separately, and can be accessed through the index which is in folder 312, and following page 37 of the register. There is some secondary material on "Springside" in the collection, including some on its recent history, and also some material on Andrew Jackson Downing, the architect and landscape artist. Much of the correspondence, especially personal, is missing because after Matthew Vassar's death, his nephew, Matthew Vassar Jr., sold all of the letters and papers in the house to the rag and old paper dealers to benefit the estate. Much of the remaining correspondence concerns his business.


Dates of items in the collection: 
circa 1850-1868
Date of publication: 
Types of items: 
Still Image