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The Mystery of Peter Stuart Ney

A guide to materials in Archives and Special Collections related to Peter Stuart Ney, the designer of the college seal, and the mystery of his identity.

Ney Documentary Summer 2022

In Summer 2022, a French documentary team visited the area to gain more insight on the mystery. Two archives department members attended the third exhumation of Ney's grave; the first being in the 1890s to much public excitement and again in the 1940s. The team also spent time in the archives learning more about the connections with Davidson, viewing artifacts and handwritten papers.

Original foot stone during July 2022 exhumation

Original Foot stone from July 2022 Exhumation

Books about the Mystery

Cover page of Marshal Ney: A Dual Life

Marshal Ney: a dual life

By LeGette Blythe

Online version of book available through HathiTrust.

Cover Page of Smoot book about Marshal Ney

Marshal Ney before and after execution; with numerous illustrations

By J. Edward Smoot and James A. Weston

Online version of book available through HathiTrust.

Cover book of Weston book about Marshal Ney

Historic doubts as to the execution of Marshal Ney ...

By James A. Weston

Online version of book available through HathiTrust.

Research on the Ney Mystery

Communities and scholars alike have been fascinated as to whether or not Peter Stuart Ney was truly Napoleon Bonaparte’s Marshal Michel Ney. Many books have been written about this legend and in Archives and Special Collections and E.H. Little Library, we are fortunate to have copies of some of these published books and the research materials from some of these authors. 

For an introduction to the mystery of Peter Stuart Ney - Marshal Ney, please view the video below from WRAL's Tar Heel Traveler series.

Manuscript Collections

Manuscript materials are largely unpublished documents such as diaries, letters, speeches and sermons. The collections may be about an individual, a family, or a group. The majority of our collections relate to students and alumni of Davidson College and to civic organizations in the town of Davidson, North Carolina.

Listed below are relevant collections related to Peter Stuart Ney, specifically research related to whether or not he was Marshal Michel Ney. Collections are organized by manuscript number, along with a brief description of the collection's contents, and are hyperlinked to the collection's digital finding aid.

Additional Primary Sources

Listed below are relevant collections regarding Peter Stuart Ney that can be found at UNC-Chapel Hill. Materials are linked and described below.

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