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John Raymond French Papers

An inventory of his papers at the Syracuse University Archives


Creator: French, John Raymond.
Title: John Raymond French Papers
Dates: 1876-1897
Size: 10 boxes (4.75 linear feet)
Abstract: The John Raymond French Papers include correspondence, student work, and notebooks from his time at Syracuse University.
Language: English
Repository: University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Ave., Suite 600
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010


Portrait of John Raymond French

John Raymond French (1825-1897) was a professor of mathematics and the first dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Syracuse University.

French was born in April of 1825 in Oswego County, New York. As a young child, his father fell ill, leaving French to pay for his education on his own. He first attended school at a private academy in Southland and then moved to Mexico Academy, both in New York, where he taught for the winter terms and attended classes during fall and spring. For income while attending classes, French rang the bell at the academy. After six successive winters of teaching, French taught for a full year. Money from this year allowed him to spend his senior year at Union College. In 1849, French graduated with a Bachelor of Arts.

From 1849 to 1853 French taught at Falley Seminary in Fulton, New York. During this time he earned his Master's degree from Wesleyan University. In 1853, French was named principal of the seminary, but due to health reasons he left the post just one year later. Later in 1854 he worked as an agent for Troy University until becoming principal of Mexico Academy in 1855.

In 1859, French married Eliza A. Montgomery and was also admitted to the bar. He entered into a legal partnership with his brother George G. French and practiced law in Mexico, New York.

French began teaching as a professor of mathematics at Genesee College in 1864. While a professor, he earned his Doctor of Law from Allegheny College. French became a professor of mathematics at Syracuse University in 1871, which had just been founded in 1870. In 1878, French became the first dean of the College of Liberal Arts. While in Syracuse, French was also involved in the University Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, serving as trustee, steward, Sunday-school superintendent, chorister, and secretary of the board of trustees.

In 1895, he was made Vice Chancellor to Chancellor James Roscoe Day at Syracuse University and served in the position until his death in April of 1897. After his death, a professorship of civil engineering was named in his honor, which today is known as the John Raymond French Distinguished Professor of Mathematics.

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Scope and Content

The John Raymond French Papers includes four series:

The General Correspondence series consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence, many concerning payment of loans, exams, or degrees as well as expressing interest in the various programs at Syracuse University.

The Individual Correspondence series includes either substantial incoming correspondence from various individuals of his professional life or incoming correspondence from notable figures, such as Chancellor Alexander Winchell or Melvil Dewey.

The Notebooks series includes four notebooks containing French's notes about his classes and students.

The Student Work series includes assignments and exams from French's students.

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Access Restrictions

Please note that the collection is housed off-site, and advance notice is required to allow time to have the materials brought to the Reading Room on campus.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from the Syracuse University Archives and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

The Syracuse University Archives holds a clipping file and portrait file for John Raymond French and also has bells that belonged to him in the Memorabilia Collection.

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Selected Search Terms


Beebe, Minnie Mason.
Coddington, Wellsley Perry, Rev.
Comfort, George F. (George Fisk), 1833-1910.
Day, James Roscoe, 1845-1923.
Dewey, Melvil, 1851-1931.
French, John Raymond.
Haven, E.O. (Erastus Otis), 1820-1881.
Nottingham, Edwin.
Parker, George Albert.
Reid, J.M. (John Morrison), 1820-1896.
Sibley, Henry O.
Sims, C.N. (Charles N.), 1835-1908.
Smalley, Frank, 1846-1931.
Underwood, Lucien.
Wells, Newton A. (Newton Alonzo), 1852-1923.
Winchell, Alexander, 1824-1891.
Syracuse University -- History.
Syracuse University.
Syracuse University. -- College of Arts and Sciences.


Deans (education)
College teachers.
Higher education.

Types of material


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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John Raymond French Papers,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

The Syracuse University Archives does not have information on how the John Raymond French Papers were obtained.

Processing Information

Materials were rehoused in acid-free folders, boxes, and envelopes.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: Maggie Teschler
Date: 2016
Revision history:

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The materials have been arranged either alphabetically or chronologically by series.

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General Correspondence
Box 1 1876
Box 1 1877
Box 1 1878
Box 1 1879
Box 1 1880
Box 1 January - May 1881
Box 1 June - September 1881
Box 2 October - December 1881
Box 2 January - April 1882
Box 2 May - August 1882
Box 2 September - December 1882
Box 2 January - April 1883
Box 2 May - July 1883
Box 3 August - December 1883
Box 3 January - April 1884
Box 3 May - August 1884
Box 3 September - December 1884
Box 3 1885
Box 3 January - April 1886
Box 4 May - June 1886
Box 4 July - September 1886
Box 4 October - December 1886
Box 4 January - April 1887
Box 4 May - December 1887
Box 4 January - April 1888
Box 5 May - June 1888
Box 5 July - September 1888
Box 5 October - December 1888
Box 5 January - May 1889
Box 5 June - December 1889
Box 5 1890
Box 5 January - March 1891
Box 6 April - May 1891
Box 6 June - July 1891
Box 6 August - December 1891
Box 6 January - May 1892
Box 6 June - August 1892
Box 7 September - December 1892
Box 7 January - September 1893
Box 7 October - December 1893
Box 7 January - April 1894
Box 7 May - July 1894
Box 7 August - December 1894
Box 8 January - April 1895
Box 8 May - July 1895
Box 8 August - December 1895
Box 8 1896
Box 8 1897
Box 8 Fragments undated
Box 8 Regarding J.D. McLaren 1881-1886
Box 9 Tipple Hazing Case 1881
Box 9 Outgoing 1870-1895
Individual Correspondence
Box 9 Beebe, Minnie 1891-1894
Box 9 Bennett, Chas. W. 1876-1886
Box 9 Cabeen, Chas. W. 1895
Box 9 Clark, John Scott 1882
Box 9 Coddington, Wellsley Perry 1876-1888
Box 9 Comfort, George Fisk 1879-1895
Box 9 Davis, A.B. 1881-1892
Box 9 Day, James Roscoe 1893-1895
Box 9 Dewey, Melvil 1892-1895
Box 9 Harrison, Benjamin 1894
Box 9 Haven, Erastus Otis 1879
Box 9 Hoose, James Horman 1876-1883
Box 9 Parker, George Albert 1895
Box 9 Nottingham, Edwin 1886-1893
Box 9 Reid, John Morrison 1881-1895
Box 9 Root, Francis 1882-1891
Box 9 Schultze, William H. 1882
Box 9 Sibley, Henry O. 1891-1893
Box 9 Sims, Charles N. 1881-1895
Box 9 Smalley, Frank 1883-1892
Box 9 Stowell, Thomas B. 1878-1894
Box 9 Underwood, Lucien M. 1891
Box 9 Vernon, Leroy M. 1894-1896
Box 9 Wells, Newton 1895
Box 9 Winchell, Alexander 1877-1878
Box 10 Class Notes 1890-1895 (2)
Box 10 Memoranda 1895-1896
Box 10 Student Notes 1887-1892
Student Work
Box 9 Exams 1873
Box 9 Survey Bills 1886
Box 9 Various 1876-1895

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