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UAI 5.100

Harvard University. Corporation. Harvard College Papers, 1st series, 1636-1825, 1831 : an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: UAI 5.100
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Harvard University. Corporation
Title: Harvard College Papers, 1st series, 1636-1825, 1831.
Date(s): 1636-1825, 1831.
Quantity: 2 cubic feet (11 volumes)
Abstract: At a special meeting of the Corporation on February 6, 1850, the President and Fellows voted to have all manuscript papers related to the history of the College and College affairs identified, arranged, and bound. James W. Harris, an assistant in the Library who also served as an assistant to President Jared Sparks, was assigned the task of arranging and indexing the papers. The first series of College Papers comprises eleven volumes of historical and administrative records dating from 1651 to 1825 (as well as an 1831 document from the tenure of President Josiah Quincy). The collection chiefly consists of correspondence between College administrators (including the president, treasurer, steward, and librarian), professors, and tutors. The Papers also contain reports of committees and departments; copies of official memorials and petitions to the Harvard Corporation and Board of Overseers, as well as to the General Court of Massachusetts; copies of Harvard charters; financial records; plans of property; copies of votes by the Harvard Corporation and Board of Overseers; memoranda; bills of lading for goods shipped to the College; building estimates; and subscription papers for funds.

Processing Note:

Processing Archivist Juliana Kuipers surveyed and described this collection between July 2011 and February 2012.
Preservation and description of the Harvard College Papers, 1st series, was supported, in part, by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
Titles were assigned by the cataloger, unless noted. Whenever possible, full names were used within titles to enable keyword searching.

Conditions on Use and Access:

The Harvard College Papers, 1st series is closed for research use due to the collection's fragile condition.
Positive microfilm of the Harvard College Papers, 1st series (UAI 5.131) is available for research use. Digital copies of the positive microfilm appear at the series level in this finding aid.
Negative microfilm of the Harvard College Papers, 1st series (UAI 5.132) is also available.

Note on digitial copies of positive microfilm of the Harvard College Papers, 1st series:

For Volumes 1-5, item numbers listed in this finding aid correspond with item numbers appearing on digital copies of the positive microfilm.
For Volumes 6-11, item numbers listed in this finding aid were assigned by the archivist after the creation of the positive microfilm. Digital copies of the positive microfilm for these volumes do not contain item numbers.

Preferred Citation:

Harvard University. Corporation. Harvard College Papers, 1st series, 1636-1825, 1831. UAI 5.100, Harvard University Archives.

Related Materials

Records the Harvard University Archives relating to College administration and finances

Presidents papers at the Harvard University Archives

Papers of selected Harvard faculty and administrators at the Harvard University Archives

Records at the Harvard University Archives relating to gifts, donations, and bequests

Records at the Harvard University Archives relating to land, property, and buildings

Separated Materials

Selected items were removed from the College Papers at various times. Some of these items have known new locations in collections at the Harvard University Archives and Houghton Library. The separated materials are listed in this inventory. The list of separated materials includes their current location if known.

Separated Materials

These items were originally contained within the collection and are described in the volumes' indexes, but were removed from the collection at an unknown date. Their current location, when known, is noted in the list below.

Items removed from Volume 1

Items removed from Volume 2

Items removed from Volume 3

Items removed from Volume 5

Items removed from Volume 6

Items removed from Volume 7

Items removed from Volume 8

Items removed from Volume 9

Historical note

At a special meeting of the Corporation on February 6, 1850, the President and Fellows voted that "the President cause to be examined and arranged all the manuscript papers relating to the College, whether records, letters, or other papers now in Gore Hall or other buildings of the University, and procure such as are worthy of preservation to be substantially bound." James W. Harris, an assistant in the Library who also served as an assistant to President Jared Sparks, was assigned the task of arranging and indexing the papers.
Historical and administrative records dating back as early as the mid 1600s were gathered together and arranged in chronological order in bound volumes which were then placed in the Library. After 1850, historical records continued to be collected and arranged on an intermittent basis. Papers that were accidentally overlooked, or newly discovered or received, were added later as supplements.
Each volume of the College Papers contains an index which refers to page numbers. In the late nineteenth century, Keeper of the Archives William Garrott Brown numbered each of the documents in the first five volumes which he used to assemble a calendar, or descriptive inventory. As part of the current project, the processing archivist numbered all documents in the remaining six volumes.

Note regarding date conventions

Some documents dated between January 1 and March 25 before 1752 have been cited with the double date convention, e.g., March 13, 1638/9. This convention was used in England and the North American colonies between 1582 and 1752. The first date refers to the year according to the Julian calendar, which began on March 25, while the second refers to the year according to the Gregorian calendar, which began on January 1.

References

Arrangement

The volumes are arranged in chronological order.

Scope of the Harvard College Papers, 1st series

The first series of College Papers comprise eleven volumes of historical and administrative records relating to the history of the College and College affairs dating from 1651 to 1825 (as well as an 1831 document from the tenure of President Josiah Quincy). The collection chiefly consists of correspondence between College administrators (including the president, treasurer, steward, and librarian), professors, and tutors. The Papers also contain reports of committees and departments; copies of official memorials and petitions to the Harvard Corporation and Board of Overseers, as well as to the General Court of Massachusetts; copies of Harvard charters; financial records; plans of property; copies of votes by the Harvard Corporation and Board of Overseers; memoranda; bills of lading for goods shipped to the College; building estimates; and subscription papers for funds. Half of the collection dates from the tenures of president John Thornton Kirkland (1810-1828) and treasurer John Davis (1810-1827).
The Papers offer thorough documentation of many aspects of College affairs. Topics covered in the correspondence include finances; curriculum; appointments and resignations of faculty (including those who declined appointment); the establishment and duties of professorships; bequests and legacies; student discipline and disorder; construction and repairs to College buildings and houses occupied by faculty members; donations to the library; appointments to the Boylston Medical Committee and the awarding of the Boylston prizes; responsibilities of the Steward including commons and the procurement of wood, as well as routine maintenance of the College including the cleaning of student rooms and sweeping chimneys; and special events including commencement and inaugurations. Other topics of note include in the establishment of the Harvard Medical School in 1782, the Harvard Divinity School in 1816, and the Harvard Law School in 1817, as well as changes in the organization of the Board of Overseers and the Corporation.
The Papers also provide evidence of Harvard's relationship with the immediate community and beyond. Included is documentation of the Charlestown Ferry, the West Boston Bridge, and the Cambridge and Concord Turnpike, as well as records of community members (including women) who rented or purchased land or property from the College. The relationship between Harvard and the state government is revealed through copies of official memorials and petitions to the General Court (most often requesting additional grants or aid from the Court). Correspondence from administrators at other colleges and universities throughout the United States include introductions for scholars and faculty, requests for recommendations of faculty for open positions, and notifications of student disorders. Correspondence from Harvard faculty and alumni describe travel in England, Germany, Scotland, and Sweden. Of particular note are letters from four United States presidents, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams, as well as politicians Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.
Throughout the volumes can be found evidence of Harvard's support of ministry to and education of Native Americans in the correspondence of missionaries Gideon Hawley (1727-1807) and Phineas Fish (1785-1854) at Mashpee (or Marshpee), Massachusetts; Samuel Kirkland (1741-1808) at Oneida, New York; John Sergeant, Jr. (1747-1824) at Stockbridge, Massachusetts (and later New York); and Frederick Baylies (1774-1836) among the Chappaquiddick Indians on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Early missionary activities were funded by the Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England, an English organization whose funds were administered by Harvard, and the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. The collection chiefly documents the work of the New England organization the Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians and Others in North America, which was founded in 1787. While the correspondence primarily concerns financial topics, it includes some reports of mission and school activities, as well as some details of individual Native Americans and African Americans. The collection also includes a report from a member of the Narragansett Tribe, Council Clerk Tobias Ross, detailing the status of Native American schools on Martha's Vineyard.
Topics tangentially reflected within the Papers include the First Great Awakening, Shay's Rebellion, efforts in the late 1790s to determine the St. Croix river boundary between the United States and British Canada, the War of 1812, the 1819 Supreme Court case of the Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, and General Lafayette's attendance at Harvard's commencement in 1824. There is little direct documentation of the American Revolution, although evidence of the effects of the Revolution, such as damages to Harvard buildings occupied by troops, the proposed occupation of Harvard buildings by General Burgoyne's surrendered army, and the depreciation of currency, is included.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2016 November 14.

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