The Bursar’s Records contain accounting and financial information for the College of William and Mary dating back to the mid 1700s. Unfortunately, some of these records have been lost due to fires and other events. However, the surviving records contain a wide variety of information that illuminate different aspects of life in early Virginia. For instance, one folder titled, “Statements of Revenue from Skins and Furs, 1763-1773” may provide useful information for anyone studying the environmental history of early Virginia, transatlantic trade, or capitalism in the Atlantic World.
The documents in the folder show not only how the College was financially supported at the expense of the native fauna, they also record what types of animals inhabited the region. In the document pictured here, we see tallies for deer, beaver, otter, mink, fox, “wildcat,” raccoon, and elk. Furthermore, the names and destinations of the vessels that these skins and furs were transported on can also be found in the documents. Thus, the records provide valuable insight into trade patterns as well as the kind of evidence that could enable scholars to create a window into the effects of early trade in animal skins and furs on American ecosystems.
Check in soon for more on this rich collection!