Diaries of Jonathan Pearson

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Diary Cover
Cover of Jonathan Pearson's Diary, February 18, 1828 to November 9, 1828 - Image Source

Collection Facts

Dates of Original:

Historical Context

Jonathan Pearson was born in New Hampshire in 1813. After finishing his early education in his home state, he attended Union College. Pearson graduated top of his class in 1835 and returned to Union the following year as a tutor. He went on to become a professor of chemistry and natural history, and later taught botany and agriculture. Pearson also served as the college's librarian for more than 40 years, and the school treasurer from 1854 to 1883. It was during these years as a student and faculty member at Union that he maintained his diaries, with those in this collection ranging from 1828 through 1837. In addition to his career at Union and maintaining his diary, Pearson produced five works on the history of the Mohawk Valley region of upstate New York, most notably “The History of the Schenectady Patent.” Though he traveled frequently in his life, Pearson continued to call Schenectady his home until his death there in 1887.

Scope of Collection

This collection consists of sixteen diaries written by Jonathan Pearson between 1828 through 1837, encompassing all his years as a student at Union College and the beginning of his time as a member of college administration. It includes reflections on the college, including criticism of its management, along with accounts of Pearson’s travels, such as an expedition on the Erie Canal in 1833. Pearson’s diaries also reflect on United States society at the time of writing, including his thoughts on slavery and historical events.