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Latest JRUL Documents Important, Unusual Moments in Rutgers History

August 3, 2016
Journal cover

Part one of a two-part Rutgers 250 edition of the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries is available now.

How did Rutgers University wind up celebrating its centennial four years later than it actually should have? And, despite his status as both a Revolutionary War hero and the namesake of the eighth oldest higher education institution in the country, why is relatively little known about Colonel Henry Rutgers?

On the eve of Rutgers’ 250th anniversary, the latest edition of the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries answers these and other important questions about the history of the university. Entitled “Part One: The Life and Times of Henry Rutgers,” this first half of a special two-part issue of the Journal highlights some of the most significant and unusual moments in Rutgers’ long journey from colonial college to major state research university.

In “Rutgers’ 1870 Centennial Celebration and Other Charter-Related Puzzles,” Caryn Radick explains how the discovery of Rutgers’ 1766 charter in the late 19th century led to the realization that the university was four years older than initially thought. Radick looks at the evolving understanding of Rutgers’ founding and history, detailing the first Charter Day celebration and the acquisition of an early copy of the university’s second, 1770 charter.

In “From Queen’s College to Rutgers College” Thomas J. Frusciano details the circumstances that led to a small denominational college in New Brunswick being named after a bachelor philanthropist from New York City. He describes how financial hardships and infighting in the Dutch Reformed Church threatened to jeopardize the future of Queen’s College, and how the relationship between Henry Rutgers and Reverend Philip Milledoler brought about the donation that helped stabilize the college financially and spurred the change in its name.

The introduction and first part of David J. Fowler’s “Benevolent Patriot: The Life and Times of Henry Rutgers” follow. Here, Fowler describes the history and scope of his research project—which has resulted in the most in-depth biography of Henry Rutgers currently available—and chronicles Rutgers’ early life up to the Revolutionary War. The second half of Fowler’s biography, detailing Rutgers’ service in the war and the period thereafter up to 1800, will continue in part two of the special issue of the Journal.

Finally, editor Robert G. Sewell’s “Rutgers History in the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries: An Annotated Bibliography” provides notes on over 100 articles that document noteworthy developments in the history of the institution, demonstrating the Journal’s importance as a source for Rutgers history.

This and the complete back issues of the Journal are available for free online. Part two of the special anniversary issue is slated for release this fall.