What materials on the 1896 Olympics do you have?

There are a number of collections at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library which document Princeton’s connection to the Olympic movement of the late 19th century, as well as several related resources in the Manuscript Division at Firestone. What follows is a list of our major holdings which relate in some way to the topic, with links to finding aids and catalog records wherever possible. It is by no means exhaustive; however it should prove a useful starting point for research.


The first resource is the senior thesis of Sarah Kiernan ’05 titled, “William Milligan Sloane: Torchbearer of the Olympic Movement” (thesis no. 19164). Drawing on many sources including personal interviews with Sloane and the Coubertin-Sloane correspondence at the International Olympic Committee Archives in Lausanne, the thesis is perhaps the single item here which is most directly related to the topic.

Also at Mudd are the scrapbooks of Francis Lane, part of the Scrapbook Collection. Lane was one of the four Princetonians who participated in the 1896 Olympics and his scrapbooks document his undergraduate experience, leading up to and including the event. In addition to the scrapbooks, there are undergraduate alumni files for each of the undergraduates who participated in 1896 (Herbert Jameson, Francis A. Lane, Albert C. Tyler, and Robert Garrett). The alumni files document each individual’s time as an undergraduate and an alumnus, and include clippings, biographical documents, and in some cases correspondence. Similar in content to the alumni files are the faculty files, one of which exists for William Sloane. There are also materials regarding the connection between Princeton and the Olympics in the Historical Subject File. See in particular Series 5: Athletics, Box 124.

We also have the Joseph E. Raycroft Papers. Raycroft was Princeton University’s Chairman of the Department of Health and Physical Education and was a member of the 1932 and 1936 Olympic Committees; however the collection also contains a photo album of Athens in 1896 which was presented to the Raycroft Library by Charles Caldwell.

The Manuscript Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections also holds some collections which, though not directly related to the topic, may contain some supplementary materials. The Robert Garrett Papers primarily document Garrett’s later life as a collector of rare manuscripts, however they may be useful in other ways. Similarly, there is William Sloane correspondence scattered in several other sets of papers, including the Alan Marquand Papers and the William Libbey Papers. I am unsure of the nature of this correspondence, however it may be worth a look. Information regarding research in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections can be found at this website.

I hope that this information has proven helpful, but if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to let us know by contacting the library at the addresses or numbers listed below.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Brennan

University Archives Assistant Project Archivist