The records of the Office of the Bursar contain an array of financial information dating back to the 18th century. One of the more interesting aspects of these records that has recently come to light pertains to the College of William and Mary’s involvement in the slave trade. Many of the documents contain references to enslaved people who were held by the College as well as payments to slaveholders for the hire of their slaves. These references shed light on the use of enslaved people in the everyday functioning of the College.
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 records of the Office of the Bursar contain a wide array of financial information dating back to the 18th century. Recently, these records have provided additional information about the College of William & Mary’s involvement in slavery and the slave trade. Many of the documents contain references to enslaved people who were held by the College, as well as payments to slaveholders for hiring enslaved people. These references show some of the ways that using enslaved people played an important role in the everyday functioning of the College.
The records of the Office of the Bursar are some of the earliest and most comprehensive records of the College of William and Mary, some from the 18th century survive to the present day! The accounts document the financial interactions of the College of William & Mary and its personnel in the 18th-19th centuries. While many people might not associate accounting records with interesting historical revelations, the Bursar records are an excellent example of how a wealth of diverse information can be tucked away in the seemingly mundane. For instance, a folder titled “Bursar Accounts, 1804-1818,” with documents titled “Accounts of Receipts and Expenditures” contains a trove of information regarding the College’s involvement with slavery.