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 Record Group
Identifier: RG 23/N

Rutgers College Administration (Irving S. Upson)


  • 1890-1924

Scope and Content Note

The records of Irving Upson span the years 1890 through 1915, with the bulk of the material from 1900-19145 The collection consists mainly of correspondence pertaining to Upson's roles as Treasurer, Registrar, and Secretary of Rutgers College as well as his role in the Agricultural Station correspondence and his time as the college librarian. The contents of the folders generally end at the time of Upson's death, but there were several folders where Henry Schneeweiss, who succeeded Upson as Treasurer, continued to file material until the end of 1915.

Most of the material consists of correspondence received by Upson and enclosures to those letters, but there are occasional typed drafts or carbon copies of letters written by Upson. One notable item is copy of a letter to William Demarest in 1914 asking to be relieved of his duties as Registrar and suggesting that Luther Martin be given the position.

The original file folders had numbers pre-printed on tabs and this number frequently appears on the upper right hand corner of items filed in those folders. The folder numbers themselves seemed to have no particular significance and were not maintained when the collection was re-foldered. Many of the items have a date hand-written on the upper left hand corner in pencil; as these dates are generally a day or two after the date of the item, it appears that the hand-written date represents the day on which Upson replied or took action on the item.

The records are divided into six series:

  1. I. Registrar
  2. II. Treasurer
  3. III. General
  4. IV. College Librarian
  5. V. Agriculture Experimentation Station
  6. VI. Secretary to the Faculty

Because Upson filled many roles at once and filed most of his correspondence by personal name, many of the folders contain some items relating to more than one of his responsibilities. For example, some of his correspondents in the Treasurer series also wrote to Upson recommending young men for admission to Rutgers. Some of the insurance files include insurance for the Agricultural Station intermixed with insurance for the rest of Rutgers. In some folders Upson is addressed sometimes as Treasurer and sometimes as Registrar by the same person. These items were left in the folder in which they were originally filed.

Please refer to individual series for specific content notes.


17.7 Cubic Feet (53 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box)

Language of Materials



These records chronicle the administrative career of Irving S. Upson, who from 1890-1915 took on various roles within Rutgers College. These roles include that of the first university registrar, secretary, and treasurer, as well as college librarian. These roles saw the development of various other offices present in the university today, including alumni relations and the financial office of the Athletic Association.

Biographical Sketch

Irving Strong Upson (1855-1915) was born in Marion, Connecticut on February 5th, 1855, the son of Henry Miles and Sarah Forbes (Webster) Upson. Upson attended the Lewis Academy and the Hopkins Grammar School of New Haven and taught for three years in the Connecticut public school system before enrolling at Rutgers in 1877. During his tenure as a Rutgers student, Upson was active in a number of extracurricular activities, including the Glee Club, the Delta Upsilon fraternity, and the Targum editorial staff. He also distinguished himself academically and was admitted to Phi Beta Kappa at the end of his junior year before graduating in 1881 with Bachelor of Arts degree.

Upon his graduation, Upson stayed at Rutgers, working as Clerk of the State Geological Survey under the supervision of Dr. George H. Cook. Upson's work at the State Geological Survey was the first of a prodigious number of roles he held at Rutgers throughout his career. Following the creation of the New Jersey State Agricultural Experiment Station in 1880, Upson progressively filled the jobs of Clerk (1881-1889), Chief Clerk (1889-1909), Treasurer (1893-1897) and Secretary and Treasurer (1897-1915), while also taking on roles at the College Agricultural Station upon its establishment in 1887. Between 1888 and 1915, Upson served as Disbursing Clerk and Librarian (1888-1905) and Chief Clerk (1905-1915) of the College Agricultural Station, even as he was appointed to other positions within Rutgers College.

Upson received his A.M. from Rutgers in 1884 and that same year was appointed Librarian of the College, the first non-professor to hold that post. Upson's assumption of the position of Librarian at this time was representative of the growing differentiation between faculty and administration, as faculty increasingly focused solely on duties related to teaching. Notably, under Upson's direction the library experienced significant changes, as the collection grew to more than 26,000 volumes by 1890 and Upson employed a clerk to catalog that collection by author and subject. To accommodate the growth of the library's holdings, Upson oversaw the collection's move to the new Voorhees Library, which was dedicated in 1904. During this time, the library also extended its services in terms of hours, opening its doors to students and faculty up to eleven hours per day.

In 1891, Upson was appointed Registrar of the College and, later that same year, named Secretary of the Faculty while still retaining his position as Librarian. In 1904, Upson's assistant at the library, George A. Osborn was appointed acting librarian and then succeeded Upson as Librarian of the College in 1907. By this time, Upson concurrently filled the roles of Registrar, Secretary of the Faculty, and Treasurer, to which he was appointed in 1906. By virtue of these various roles and the gradual shift of administrative duties away from faculty during his tenure, Upson is credited with becoming the first Rutgers College "administrator." Upson was also the first to hold the newly created title of "Registrar" and as such was responsible for admitting students, as well as managing registration and student records. Additionally, in the absence of an Office of Alumni Relations, student correspondence with Upson, or "Ups" as some affectionately addressed him, oftentimes continued well into their alumni years. Such correspondence also attests to the close relationship that Upson had with students in the small community that was Rutgers College at the turn of the twentieth century and in the years before the growth of a modern administrative bureaucracy.

Additionally, Upson is credited with preparing an enlarged and more accurate general catalogue of Rutgers graduates and, beyond his work at the College, distinguished himself in service to the city of New Brunswick as well. Upson served as Treasurer of the Free Public Library of New Brunswick and as such was intimately involved in issues of budgeting, collection development, and patron services. He was also Treasurer of the Rutgers College Alumni Association, a member of the managing board of the Children's Industrial Home, and belonged to the First Presbyterian Church of New Brunswick.

In the fall of 1914, heart disease forced Upson to delegate much of his work to his assistant, Luther H. Martin, though he retained the titles of Registrar, Secretary of the Faculty, and Treasurer until his death on February 25, 1915. Following Upson's passing in his campus office on February 23, 1915, Luther H. Martin assumed the roles of Registrar and Secretary of the Faculty while Henry S. Schneeweiss was appointed Treasurer. In a final display of his dedication to Rutgers College, Upson bequeathed part of his estate to the Alumni Endowment Fund to help future students of the college succeed in their educational endeavors. Upson was remembered in a memorial issue of the Targum and a lengthy tribute in The Scarlet Letter, which the class of 1916 dedicated to him. With reference to Upson's long and dedicated service to Rutgers, The Scarlet letter aptly heralded Upson as a man "whose activities and influence will be cherished in reverent and affectionate remembrance as long as this generation of Rutgers men shall live; the record of whose service will form an essential part of the history of the college so long as Rutgers will stand or its annals exist."

Arrangement Note

This collection is an integrated collection, bringing together the work of various individuals who worked on several parts of the collection over a number of years. As such, the seven series that have emerged are based off of their arrangements - although they primarily track the various posts that Upson held over the years while working at Rutgers College. The folders are arranged alphabetically by either last name or company/organization and the items within are ordered chronologically.

Inventory to the Records of the Rutgers College Administration (Irving S. Upson), 1890-1924 RG 23/N
Edited Full Draft
Helen Ciacciarelli, Clare Hilliard, Hillary S. Kativa, Jennifer Pettigrew, Cathy Salomon, and Tara Maharjan
2011 and 2019
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository

Rutgers University Libraries
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
169 College Avenue
New Brunswick NJ 08901-1163
732-932-7012 (Fax)