"Professor Jim" Biography

PROCTOR, C.H. The Life of James Williams, Better Known as Professor Jim, For Half A Century Janitor of Trinity College. Hartford: Case, Lockwood & Brainard, 1873.

16mo (4.75 x 6.5 in.). Tissue-guarded frontispiece portrait. original wrappers (small chip to lower right, minor wear to spine with small tape repair, else very fine).

FIRST EDITION. A biography of James Williams (1790-1878) longtime custodian at Trinity College, fondly known as “Professor Jim.” Born into slavery to Revolutionary War Colonel John F. Robert, he was witness to Robert’s friendship with Aaron Burr, and it was to Robert’s estate that Burr fled to after his duel with Alexander Hamilton, an account not recorded elsewhere. At 20, Williams escaped and served in the American Navy and commercial vessels during the War of 1812. After several years at sea, he settled in Connecticut and became a household servant to Bishop Brownell, founder of Trinity College. He would serve in various capacities at the College, rising to Chief Janitor. Proctor, a descendant of Colonel Robert, notes, Williams “was affectionately remembered as an uneducated but intelligent Negro janitor who became a college institution, 'a prominent personage at Class-Day celebrations', and a speaker to graduating seniors.” A lounge was named in his honor in March 1999. Scarce in wrappers. Sabin 65946.


Small chip to lower right, minor wear to spine with small tape repair, else very fine.

Estimate: $300 - $500
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