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Frequently Asked Questions
Princeton Theological Seminary

The relationship between the Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University had its beginning in 1811. In 1810 the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, judging that the College of New Jersey (as Princeton University was then known) had grown too secular, decided to establish a theological seminary without predetermining its location. In 1811 the trustees of the College approached the General Assembly to propose Princeton as the location of the new institution, giving birth to the “plan of agreement" outlined below:

•  The trustees engage not to interfere in any way with the Assembly and its directors in carrying out the plan of the seminary adopted last year.

•  The trustees permit the Assembly to erect buildings necessary for the seminary on the College grounds.

•  The trustees engage to grant accommodations to the Assembly in their present buildings when desirable.

•  The trustees engage to receive such students as are sent by the Assembly and to endeavor to reduce the College expense.

•  The trustees undertake to receive moneys for investment, subject to the Assembly's order.

•  The trustees grant to the seminary the use of the College library, subject to certain rules.

•  The trustees agree to help the Assembly to establish a preparatory school.

•  The Assembly is at liberty to remove at any time the seminary elsewhere, and the trustees promise to establish no professorship of theology in the College while the seminary shall remain at Princeton.

•  The trustees engage to use certain moneys in their hands chiefly according to the recommendation of the Assembly.

Notwithstanding this agreement, there has never been an organic connection between the two institutions.

On May 30, 1812, the following men were elected as directors of the Seminary: Ashbel Green, Samuel Miller, J. B. Romeyn, Archibald Alexander, Philip Milledoler, Andrew Flinn, Samuel Blatchford, James P. Wilson, John McKnight, James Inglis, Joseph Clark, Eliphalet Nott; Reverend Messrs. James Richards, William Neill, John McDowell, Robert Cathcart, Frances Herron, Conrad Speece, Dirck C. Lansing, Asa Hillyer, Robert Finley; Elders William Haslett, Robert Ralston, Henry Rutgers, John Neilson, Samuel Bayard, Zechariah Lewis, J. R. B. Rodgers, Divie Bethune, and John Van Cleve.

On June 2 the Reverend Dr. Archibald Alexander of Philadelphia was elected professor of didactic and polemic theology, and on August 12 the seminary was formally opened with the inauguration of Dr. Alexander and the matriculation of three students.

Today the Princeton Theological Seminary is one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. In 2003-2004, it had a faculty of 53, supplemented by 17 visiting lecturers, and a student body of 785 representing many cultures and confessions. It awards advanced degrees and provides mid-career instruction to large numbers of ministers through institutes and special seminars. The Seminary's Speer and Luce Libraries contain nearly half a million catalogued items. While preserving a separate identity, the Seminary and the University have cooperated in many ways to enrich the life of the academic and civic communities to which they belong.

For further information concerning the Princeton Theological Seminary, please contact Clifford Anderson, Curator of Special Collections, Henry Luce III Library, Mercer Street and Library Place, P. O. Box 111, Princeton, NJ, 08542-0111. He can also be reached by telephone (609-497-3642) or via email.

Related Sources

Historical Subject Files Collection, 1746-2005

Leitch, Alexander. A Princeton Companion. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978). Also available online.

Selden, William K. Princeton Theological Seminary: A Narrative History, 1812-1992. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992).

Rosemary Switzer (2003)

Last modified: Tuesday, 24-Apr-2012 14:02:20 EDT