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UAI 15.1003

Harvard University. Board of Visitors of the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History. Financial records of the Board of Visitors of the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History, 1805, 1807-1814 : an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: UAI 15.1003
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Harvard University. Board of Visitors of the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History.
Title: Financial records of the Board of Visitors of the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History, 1805, 1807-1814
Date(s): 1805, 1807-1814
Quantity: .14 cubic feet (1 flat box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Financial records of the Board of Visitors of the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History offer a glimpse into the financial management of the Professorship and Botanic Garden from 1805 to 1814. The records include account statements for William Dandridge Peck documenting the expenses he incurred traveling in Europe from 1805 to 1808, bills and receipts, orders to pay from the Board of Visitors to the treasurer of Harvard College, promissory notes, stock account statements, and a draft of the rules and regulations of the Board of Visitors (ca. 1805).

Acquisition information:

The materials in this collection are University records and were acquired in the course of University business.

Processing Information:

This material was first classified and described in a Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980. The material was re-processed in 2011. Re-processing involved a collection survey, enhanced description of items from the nineteenth century, and the creation of this finding aid.
This finding aid was created by Dominic P. Grandinetti in October 2011.

Researcher Access:

Financial records of the Board of Visitors of the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History, are open for research. Access to fragile original documents may be restricted. Please consult the Public Services staff for further details.

Copying Restriction:

Copying of fragile materials may be limited.

Preferred Citation:

Harvard University. Board of Visitors of the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History. Financial records of the Board of Visitors of the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History, 1805, 1807-1814. UAI 15.1003, Harvard University Archives.

Related Materials

In the Harvard University Archives

Historical Note

In April 1805, the Board of Visitors of the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History was organized to supervise the first (and only) Natural History professor, William Dandridge Peck (1763-1822). Consisting of the twelve trustees of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, the President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the President of Harvard College, and the President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Board was given the authority to set the salary of the professor, build the professor's house and other buildings needed for a botanic garden, to supervise the maintenance and repair of the garden, supply the garden with plants, seeds, and specimens; and to confirm that the duties of the professor were being properly discharged. Funds for the professorship were under the control of the Board of Visitors.
After Peck's death in October 1822, the Board found it difficult to financially support both the Professorship and the botanic garden. Since funds were unavailable to support a professor, the Board assigned the care of the garden to Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859); efforts to secure funding for the Natural History professorship were unsuccessful and the chair was left vacant. In May 1831, diminished funds forced the Board of Visitors to relinquish control of the botanic garden to the Harvard Corporation. In 1862, the Corporation united the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History and the Fisher Professorship of Natural History (established in 1834) since both professorships served similar purposes. The botanic garden, which had languished over the years as an instructional laboratory, was finally abandoned in 1948 when the Botanic Garden Apartments were erected on the grounds.

References

Arrangement

The records are arranged chronologically by date.

Scope and Content

The Financial records of the Board of Visitors of the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History offer a glimpse into the financial management of the Professorship and botanic garden from 1805 to 1814. The account statements for William Dandridge Peck document the expenses he incurred traveling in England, France, Holland, Denmark, Germany, and Sweden from 1805 to 1808. Some of the expenses noted in these statements are for the costs of servants' wages, museum visits, stationery purchases, lodging, ship passage fares, passport fees, books purchased for Harvard, postage, and hackney-coach expenses. Records in this collection include bills that document the building of a picket fence, the leveling of dirt, and the use of oxen in the botanic garden; and orders to pay from the Board of Visitors to the treasurer of Harvard College for various expenses related to the Professorship and management of the botanic garden. Other records include promissory notes documenting loans received by the Board of Visitors from the Boston Bank; stock account statements that note the sale of stock to support the funding of the Professorship; and receipts for William Dandridge Peck's salary and lecture fees, the sale of Union Bank stock, the creation of parchment copies of a list of subscribers, and for payments made to the James Jackson estate for services Jackson rendered to the Board of Visitors. The records also include a draft of the rules and regulations of the Board of Visitors (ca. 1805), which refer to the supervision of the funds by the Board.
The records were assembled as an archival collection by the archivist at an unknown date from various sources without regard to original provenance in order to document University professorships.

General

This document last updated 2013 November 8.

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