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.
In the summer of 2014, several descendants of Solomon Northup, whose story in slavery was depicted in the recent Oscar-winning movie, 12 Years A Slave, visited Swem Library to see the diary kept by Florence A. Barber, the daughter of Philip and Margaret Anne Stanton and granddaughter of Solomon Northup. At the end of the movie, it was Florence’s mother, Margaret Anne, who presents her first born, Solomon Northup Stanton, to her father.