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Alexander Lockhart Nelson Papers

Identifier: WLU-Coll-0303

Scope and Contents

The Alexander Lockhart Nelson Papers consist of materials related to Nelson’s life as mathematician at Washington and Lee University; Nelson, Guy, Matthews, Archer, and Rennick family genealogy; an address by Nelson on his teaching experience during Robert E. Lee's presidency of Washington College; some family and miscellaneous correspondences; and photographs. Included and, perhaps, the primary aspect of the collection is Nelson’s notebook used during his time as both student and professor of mathematics during the mid through late 19th century. The notebook also contains a range of content unrelated to his career as mathematician such as an extensive family tree, a journal/day book which includes details about weather from December 1880 through March 1881 in Lexington, Va.; a pencil drawing of his property and its improvements in downtown Lexington; and notes about payments made to a hired laborer for his Lexington home and grounds. There is an albumen photograph of a group of young girls of the Ann Smith Academy in Lexington – including an image of Nelson’s daughter Evelyn. The collection is in two series – each formerly a unique accession from unique sources and different dates. The collections have recently been combined. Each series includes a control folder explaining its provenance. Series two includes a letter from WLU student Jack C. Desha in 1871 to his father Lucius Desha of Kentucky. In the letter Jack shares his travel experiences from Cincinnatti, Ohio to Lexington, Va., including an overnight visit in Washington DC. Series two also includes student Randolph Preston's (WLU class of 1902)typescript reminiscence of his Washington and Lee University student experience fifty years earlier.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1848 - 1902


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The materials from Washington and Lee University Special Collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used should be fully credited with the source. Permission for publication of this material, in part or in full, must be secured with the Head of Special Collections.

Biographical / Historical

Alexander Lockhart Nelson graduated from Washington College in 1849.

Biographical / Historical

Alexander Lockhart Nelson was born in Augusta County, Virginia in 1827. He was of Scots-Irish and Presbyterian ancestry. He was raised in Augusta County, Virginia and attended Washington College – predecessor institution to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, enrolling in 1846. Upon graduating from Washington College, he spent time advancing his degree and teaching at University of Virginia before becoming a full professor at his alma mater. He had a long career at WLU and was designated Professor Emeritus in 1906.Nelson died on August 31, 1910. On July 5, 1855 he married Miss Elizabeth Harvey Moore of Lexington, Virginia. Together they raised a family of three daughters and one son: Bessie Nelson,who later married Mr. Albert W. Gaines of Chattanooga, TN; Julia Nelson, who married Mr. Walter S. Forrester of Anchorage, KY; Frank A. Nelson; and Miss Evelyn Moore Nelson.


.5 Linear Feet

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Washington and Lee University, University Library Special Collections and Archives Repository

204 W. Washington St.
Lexington VA 24450 USA