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 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.
On October 19, 2014 at Dinwiddie Court House, a Virginia historical marker was dedicated to Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (also spelled Keckly). Elizabeth, or ‘Lizzy’ Keckley was born near Petersburg and was a slave on the Burwell Plantation. Her father was Armistead Burwell, the master of the plantation and her mother was a slave woman. She took the name of her slave father George Hobbs. Elizabeth Keckley had a son, George Keckley, who was killed at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, during the first year of the Civil War. As the offspring of a white father, Alexander Kirkland, who had raped his mother, George Keckley passed as white and was thus able to enlist in the Union army at a time of the war when blacks were prohibited from doing so.
Through the work of our student assistants, volunteers, and staff, Special Collections has recently reprocessed, digitized, and made the Powell Family Papers, Hepburn Addition available online. The bulk of the collection consists of the correspondence of Leven Powell, U.S. President James Madison, Charles Leven Powell, Charles Leven Powell, Jr., Selina Powell Hepburn, and others. Some of the subjects discussed in the letters include the American Revolution, slavery, the Presidential Election of 1800, the American Civil War, and early American politics. Scans of the collection are now available in the William & Mary Digital Archive.