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Lawrenceville Female Seminary Collection

Identifier: DC057

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the Lawrenceville Female Seminary Collection consists of documents created during the course of seminary business. These documents include catalogs, correspondence with Mrs. Jane Barlow Porter Condit's family, and announcements of seminary events. Also included is a memorial for Rev. Charles Nassau and his wife Hannah and a history of the Lawrenceville Female Seminary that was published in the Lawrentian. An item of particular note is the notebook of student Julia Lalor. The book includes notes on classics and history, rolls of Lawrenceville Female Seminary students, rules and regulations, lists of faculty, notes on dancing, and poetry and verse. Though the notebook largely focuses on school studies, parts of it have the feel of a diary. The last past refers to "Bow Hill," which was likely the Lalor family home in Hamilton, New Jersey.


  • 1834 - 1976
  • Majority of material found within 1834 - 1882


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies and digital photographs may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from the Archivist. Researchers are responsible for determining any other copyright questions.

Biographical / Historical

The Lawrenceville Female Seminary began in 1834 when James Harvey Porter, a classics and language instructor at The Lawrenceville School (known then as Lawrenceville High School), resigned his position to open a seminary for young women in Lawrenceville, N.J. with his wife, Jane Barlow Porter. The Porters built a boarding and schoolhouse on Main Street, north of the Presbyterian Church in Lawrenceville.

Though James Porter died not long before the school was scheduled to open, Mrs. Porter refused to abandon the project. She gave herself the title of "Lady Principal" and recruited the principal of Lawrenceville High School, Alexander Hamilton Phillips, to serve as the male principal. According to the school catalog, "The object of this School is the Christian culture of young ladies, as to all that is usually included in the term education in its widest and best sense." Under the guidance of Principal Phillips, the curriculum at the Lawrenceville Female Seminary bore a close resemblance to the curriculum at Lawrenceville High School. Students at the seminary study grammar, reading, languages, letters, science, and mathematics, as well as other subjects.

After the retirement of Phillips in 1837, Mrs. Porter became the sole principal of the seminary though she soon retired in 1839 and sold the school to Henry D. Phillips. The seminary changed hands again in 1850 when it was purchased by Rev. Charles William Nassau. Though the seminary grew under Nassau's leadership, it was eventually sold to the expanding Lawrenceville School in 1883. The original Lawrenceville School Seminary schoolhouse building stills stands on The Lawrenceville School grounds.


0.31 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Lawrenceville Female Seminary Collection is arranged chronologically.

Other Finding Aids

The Lawrenceville Female Seminary Photograph Collection (PC057):

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Portions of the Lawrenceville Female Seminary Collection were a gift from Doris O. Honig in 1964. The Julia Lalor notebook (acc. #2014.1073.1) was acquired on as a gift from Joseph Felcone L. 1964.


Appraisal has been conducted in accordance with The Lawrenceville School Stephan Archives guidelines.

Existence and Location of Copies

This collection was digitized in December 2020 by Stephanie Eder and is in Preservica:


Information in the historical note was gathered from material within the collection. Information on Julia Lalor was taken from Photographs, Written Historical and Descriptive Data, District of New Jersey, Historical American Buildings Survey:

Processing Information

The Lawrenceville Female Seminary Collection was processed by Casey Babcock in April of 2012.

Lawrenceville Female Seminary Collection: Finding Aid
Casey Babcock, Peter K. Steinberg, Jacqueline Haun
April 27, 2012; June 4, 2019, January 6, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The Lawrenceville School Stephan Archives Repository

Box 6128
2500 Main St.
Lawrenceville 08648 U.S.A. US