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Bishop Jesse Truesdell Peck Papers

An inventory of his papers at the Syracuse University Archives


Creator: Peck, Jesse T. (Jesse Truesdell), 1811-1883.
Title: Bishop Jesse Truesdell Peck Papers
Dates: 1852-1883
Size: 2 boxes (1 linear foot)
Abstract: The Bishop Jesse Truesdell Peck Papers contain numerous diaries related to Peck's work in the Methodist Episcopal Church and his role in founding Syracuse University.
Language: English
Repository: University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Ave., Suite 600
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010


Photograph of Jesse Truesdell Peck

Jesse Truesdell Peck (1811-1883) was one of the primary founders of Syracuse University and was also a bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Educated at Cazenovia Seminary, Peck led a life rich in ministry and related religious pursuits. He married Persis Wing in 1831 and joined the Oneida Conference – a traveling ministry – as clergy the following year. Peck soon became the head of a seminary high school, the first of two he would lead up until 1848.

It was then that, despite having no formal college education himself, Peck was named the tenth president of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He left in 1851 and became pastor of the Foundry Church in Washington D.C., later moving west to become pastor and elder at churches in San Francisco and Sacramento, California.

In 1866, Peck returned to New York where he was briefly a pastor in the Albany area before becoming the Syracuse Methodist Church's pastor, and, in 1870, presiding officer of the state Methodist Convention in Syracuse.

It was at the Methodist Convention that Peck became instrumental in the founding of Syracuse University. He and his wife contributed the first $25,000 -- the savings of their lifetime -- towards the University's endowment, which built enthusiasm and inspired others to contribute more than $100,000 in total before the convention adjourned. The University’s first master plan is attributed to Peck; this was a scheme for the construction of seven buildings, each to be dedicated to a different academic discipline. In 1871, Peck laid the cornerstone of the Hall of Languages, the first building to be completed under this plan.

Peck served as the first president of Syracuse University's Board of Trustees from 1870 to 1873. In addition to his commitment to the University, Peck remained heavily involved in the church -- in 1872 he was named bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in 1881 he became a delegate to the First Ecumenical Conference.

Peck remained a dedicated member of the University’s Board of Trustees until his death in 1883. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, which is located between North and South Campus at the University.

Peck's legacy includes Peck Hall, which was named for him in 1958, and the Jesse Truesdell Peck Professorship of Literature in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Scope and Content Note

The Bishop Jesse Truesdell Peck Papers contain 28 pocket-sized diaries with various entries related to sermons delivered by Peck, his religious work and daily life before and during his time as founder and Board of Trustees member at Syracuse University. In addition to the diaries, the Papers also contain a lecture by Peck on Methodism and a letter from Peck to "the committee on plans."

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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 Archives holds a clipping file and a portrait file on Jesse Truesdell Peck.

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Selected Search Terms


Peck, Jesse T. (Jesse Truesdell), 1811-1883.
Methodist Episcopal Church.
Syracuse University -- History.
Syracuse University.


College trustees.
Higher education.

Types of material


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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Bishop Jesse Truesdell Peck Papers,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

The Bishop Jesse Truesdell Peck Papers were largely obtained via a purchase of 27 diaries in 2006 by the University Archives. The diaries were sold to the Archives by a local dealer in historical ephemera, through the generous contributions of several alumni clubs and individuals.

Processing Information

Materials were placed in acid-free housing.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: Jen Bort
Date: 2016
Revision history:

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Files are arranged alphabetically. Within this arrangement, diaries are organized chronologically.

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Box 1 1852-1853
Box 1 1854-1855
Box 1 1856-1857
Box 1 1858-1859
Box 1 1860
Box 1 1861
Box 1 1862-1863
Box 1 1864-1865
Box 1 1866
Box 1 1867
Box 1 1868
Box 1 1870
Box 2 1873-1875
Box 2 1876
Box 2 1877
Box 2 1877-1878
Box 2 1879
Box 2 1880
Box 2 1881
Box 2 1882
Box 2 1883
Box 2 Lecture -- "Methodism and the Only True Catholic Church" by Jesse T. Peck 1866
Box 2 Letter -- Peck to "The Committee on Plans" 1870

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