Collection inventory

Special Collections home page

James Pike Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: GBS
Date: Aug 1969

Biographical History

James Pike (1777-1842), the son of John and Martha Trevett Pike, was born in Somersworth, New Hampshire, in March 1777. Without doubt he received at least a common school education since he began teaching himself in December 1798. His first school was at Wakefield, Massachusetts, and it was followed by terms at Newbury "Newtown," Salisbury, and Charlestown, Massachusetts, in his home town of Somersworth, New Hampshire, and in the Maine towns in Buxton, Berwick, and Portland. While teaching in Portland he wrote and used in his classroom his spelling book The Columbian Orthographer, which Daniel Johnson published in 1806. The work was sufficiently meritorious that several editions followed.

Pike was in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1808-1809, preparing copy and reading proof on a dictionary to be issued by the Charlestown firm of Etheridge & Bliss. If the work was published under Pike's name, no copy seems to have survived. He is known to have published one further school text, The Little Reader, for which the certificate of copyright, 1814, is in the collection. By October of 1812, Pike's eyesight had failed him after many years of eye trouble. Apparently he was not married when his blindness struck, and it is inferred from material in the collection that he was cared for by his family, and that he remained single until his death in 1842 at Somersworth.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The James Pike Papers consist of commonplaces, correspondence, diaries, legal papers, miscellaneous writings, and school materials.

Commonplaces consists of eleven items, ten in notebook form, in which Pike or members of his family recorded information from books, newspapers, or other sources to which they wished to refer subsequently. Among them is an index to a "History of the World" compiled by Pike. Correspondence consists of six letters: two outgoing, three incoming, and one to an unidentified publication.

Diaries in the collection cover the period 1793-1811, with some gaps, and for the most part consist of one- or two-line entries largely concerned with the weather. A number of entries, however, are more full, and describe arrivals, departures, and other events, as well as documenting the frequent eye trouble from which Pike suffered. Some vital records of the Pike family and their Somersworth neighbors are also to be found in the diaries.

Legal papers include a series of depositions, a certificate of copyright, a deed, and two receipts. Five items on various topics which may have been written by Pike constitute Miscellaneous writings. Of interest among these is a draft of a constitution for a "School for Young Ladies." The last series, School materials, includes two aids compiled or copied by Pike for use in the instruction of Latin, and a record of the names of his pupils, 1798-1807.

Arrangement of the Collection

School materials are arranged alphabetically by topic. All other material is arranged chronologically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

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

Subject Headings


Kinsman, Nathan, 1777-1829.
Pike, James, 1777-1842.
Pike, John.
Pike, Nicholas, 1743-1819.

Corporate Bodies

Hastings, Etherbridge & Bliss.


Book industries and trade -- New England.
Education -- Women.
Educators -- Diaries.
Educators -- United States.
English language -- Orthography and spelling.
Latin language -- Study and teaching.
Publishers and publishing -- New England.

Genres and Forms

Commonplace books.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

James Pike Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1969.

Table of Contents




Legal papers

Miscellaneous writings

School materials