Skip to main content

Pruden family papers

Call Number: MS 406

Scope and Contents

The Pruden family papers are composed of three diverse parts. The first consists of fourteen letters written to Joseph S. Pruden during the years 1865-1866. The letters deal with financial problems and debts owed to Pruden by D. B. Thompson of Columbus, Georgia. Some personal and family news is included in Thompson's letters.

Correspondence and other papers of Russell G. Pruden make up the second part. The letters are largely those of friends from Yale and from the 27th U.S. Aero Squadron, in which Pruden served as a captain during World War I, as well as several letters written by Pruden from Europe. The letters describe his friends' experiences before and during the war in training camps, at the front, in hospitals, and the feelings of those who remained in the U.S. during the war. One series of letters deals with attempts to identify the body of Lt. Ivan A. Roberts.

A particularly interesting item is Pruden's war diary, kept during his entire European tour of duty. Profusely illustrated with photographs, the diary also contains correspondence (removed and filed in Box 1, folder 11a), maps, general orders, a short history of the 27th Aero Squadron and rosters of itspersonnel, a circular letter from George V to American troops, and items such as French war-time currency, German camouflage fabric, propaganda leaflets, and so forth.

Also among Pruden's papers is a ledger with entries for a real estate account of Russell Pruden and his sister Daisy B. Prentis.

The third part of the Pruden family papers consists of a small manuscript collection. It contains documents and letters signed by John Quincy Adams, Horace Greeley, Andrew Jackson, Alfred Mahan, James Monroe, and kings Charles IX and Louis XVI of France. Also included are three travel journals, the first of which is an anonymous diary of a Frenchman's visit to London, describing his impressions of English social life, difficulties with the language, slang, and so forth. The next volume is a journal of three tours to France, the Netherlands, and Piedmont by Charles Abbot, first Baron Colchester. Abbot wastravelingafter the battle of Waterloo, and visited that and other battlefields. He also describes a visit with Wellington to a review of the troops by the King of Prussia. The last volume is a journal of a tour of France, Italy, and Holland by James Kendall, describing in detail, works of art and architecture.

The Pruden family papers were donated to Yale University by Russell G. Pruden between 1939 and 1946, and by Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Prentis from the estate of Russell G. Pruden in 1949. The ledger was transferred from Berkeley College in 1977.


  • 1572-1941


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Russell G. Pruden, 1939-1946, and of Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Prentis from the estate of Russell G. Pruden in 1949; ledger transferred from Berkeley College in 1977.


3.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The major figure in these papers is Russell G. Pruden who is represented by a war diary (1918-1919) and correspondence, largely from friends from Yale and the 27th U.S. Aero Squadron in which he served during World War I. His diary contains many photographs, a history of his squadron and other memorabilia. Also in the papers are fourteen letters written to his grandfather, Joseph S. Pruden by D.B. Thompson of Columbus, Georgia, on financial matters. A small manuscripts collection is included in the papers and contains one eighteenth century and two nineteenth century travel diaries, as well as documents and letters signed by John Quincy Adams, Horace Greeley, Andrew Jackson, James Monroe and kings Charles IX and Louis XVI of France.

Biographical / Historical

Russell Godine Pruden, B. A. 1906. Born October 20, 1883, New York City; died January 26, 1949, New Haven, Connecticut.

Father, William Edgar Pruden Hardware Company, hardware and wholesale automobile supplies, New York City; son of Joseph Strong and Annie Stewart (Orr) Pruden. Mother, Susan Allison (Godine) Pruden; daughter of Francis and Susan Cresswell (Brazier) Godine. Yale relatives include: Joseph McElroy, '88 (couson); Edmund A. Prentis, 3d (Class of 1945W) (nephew).

Hamilton Institute for Boys, New York City. Second colloquy appointment Senior year.

With William E. Pruden Company 1906-34 (General manager 1911-14, secretary 1914-29, vice-president 1929-34); associate curator Edward M. House Collection of War Literature 1939-49; author: August Night; with 27thU. S. Air Squadron, October 1917 until discharge with rank of Captain March 1919; overseas February 1918-March 1919; engagements in Toul sector and Champagne-Marne, and Oise-Aisne, St. Mihiel, Verdun, and Meuse-Argonne offensives; associate fellow Berkeley College (Yale University) 1934-37, fellow 1937-49; member St. Ignatius Church (Episcopal), New York City.


Death due to cerebrovascular accident. Buried in Woodlawn Cemetary, New York City. Survived by a sister, Mrs. Edmund Astley Prentis, Jr., of New York City.

(From Yale University Obituary Record 1947-1949. pp. 57-58)

Guide to the Pruden Family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Janet Elaine Gertz
October 1982
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours