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Abner Jackson Papers

Identifier: Abner Jackson papers


The Papers of Abner Jackson consist of materials dated from 1829 to 1880 which were created by or for Abner Jackson, wife Emily (Ellsworth) Jackson, and their only child, Emily Elizabeth Jackson Nicholas. The materials include mainly personal correspondence and other unattached manuscripts; diaries in bound volumes; printed ephemera; and a small number of daguerreotypes.


  • 1829-November 20, 1880, and undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the John M.K. Davis Reading Room of the Watkinson Library, Trinity College Library, Hartford, Connecticut. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws when using this collection.

Some photographic materials (e.g. daguerreotypes) may be restricted from general public access due to their extreme fragility.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital surrogates may be provided to researchers, in accordance with the duplication policy of the Watkinson Library.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information (e.g. social security numbers) in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Biographical / Historical

Born in Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1811, Abner Jackson graduated from Trinity College (Hartford, CT) in 1837, when he was appointed Tutor and Librarian of the college. In 1838, he became Adjunct Professor of Ancient Languages at Trinity.

In 1840, he took the dual post of Professor of Intellectual Philosophy and Lecturer in Chemistry and Mineralogy. He became a member of St. John's Church in Hartford, CT, after its creation in March 1841. At that time, he briefly became president of the Ecclesiological Society, a group of High Church alumni interested in the science of liturgics. Perhaps as a result of these theological yearnings, Jackson taught theological courses at Trinity College as well as teaching popular courses about philosophy, chemistry, and mineralogy. While living on campus, Jackson cultivated a garden of varied flowers and vegetables. In April 1840, he married Emily Ellsworth, grand-daughter of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Ellsworth.

In 1858, he moved to Geneva, New York, to become the President of Hobart College. During the Civil War, he helped with the raising of St. John's Chapel at Hobart, where he remained until 1867. In that year, Jackson returned to Trinity College (Hartford, CT) to assume the role of President. Before arriving on campus in October 1867, Jackson sojourned in Europe.

During his time as President of Trinity College, which lasted from 1867 until his death in 1874, Jackson publicly contradicted a controversy that erupted over the number of Trinity students who were supporters of the Democratic Party. Jackson argued that even though the percentage of Democratic students had risen from the minority that might have been on campus during the Civil War, it was no where near the five-sixths figure that had been reported in the Hartford Courant, the major Republican newspaper.

When in March 1872 the Trinity College Board of Trustees approved, by a 12 to 4 vote, to accept the City of Hartford's offer to purchase the campus for $600,000, President Jackson was initially opposed. Yet, he finally came to approve the opportunity to expand the campus from its three buildings and construct new facilities. At the request of the Trustees, Jackson toured England and Scotland in 1872 in order to hire an architect to draw up a plan for the new campus. It was Jackson who found and engaged the services of William Burges, an architect with a London office. By the following year, Burges had designed what historian Glenn Weaver calls "the most elaborate plan which had ever been designed for an American college campus."

Unexpectedly, Abner Jackson died from pneumonia on April 19, 1874, as the ground for the current Trinity College campus was about to be broken.


2.5 Cubic Feet (2 legal-size document boxes, 1 records storage carton, and 1 small archival box)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged chronologically by material type. It contains five series:

Series 1: Correspondence

Series 2: Diaries

Series 3: Miscellaneous Manuscripts

Series 4: Printed Ephemera

Series 5: Photographs

Custodial History

The Abner Jackson papers have been stored at Trinity College since at least the year 1964, as that is the date of one of the earliest known citations to the "Jackson papers" at Trinity College (Glenn Weaver, "Trinity College Moves to the New Campus," Trinity College Alumni Magazine 5:2 (January 1964), p. 11 fn. 19).

Two card files, created around 1977 by Trinity College Archivist Peter Knapp (1972-2014), describe individual letters and other manuscript materials. One file is organized biographically by last name of author. The other file is organized chronologically in date order. Both files are housed with the collection in the last folder in Box 1.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source unknown.

Related Materials

Additional Abner Jackson materials are located in the Early Presidents' Papers, Watkinson Library, Trinity College, Hartford, CT.

See also "Jackson, Abner," Deceased Alumni File, and "Jackson, Abner," Deceased Alumni Photofile, Watkinson Library, Trinity College, Hartford, CT.

See also books owned by Abner Jackson and donated to the Trinity College Library, including volumes with inscriptions to Abner Jackson (e.g. Philological studies with English illustrations by Josiah W. Gibbs (New Haven: Durrie and Peck, 1857), given to Abner Jackson "by his friend N.S. Richardson [Nathaniel Smith Richardson]"), Watkinson Library, Trinity College, Hartford, CT.

Separated Materials

Two printed works were removed from the collection and catalogued in the Watkinson Library, Trinity College, Hartford, CT: (1) The Book of Common Prayer, second ed. (Oxford: W. Baxter, 1822), signed A. Jackson in front leaf ( (2) Discourses by Rev. Abner Jackson (New York: T. Whittaker, 1875), includes tipped-in photograph of Abner Jackson. (


Weaver, Glenn. The History of Trinity College: Volume One (Hartford: Trinity College Press, 1967).

Processing Information

In 2019, the collection was reprocessed. The correspondence and miscellaneous mansucripts were collocated and arranged in chronological order. The diaries were vaccuumed, inspected for mold and dirt, and rehoused as needed.
Guide to the Papers of Abner Jackson
Eric C. Stoykovich
October 2, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Trinity College Archives Repository

Watkinson Library
300 Summit St.
Hartford CT 06106 USA