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COLLECTION Identifier: UAI 50.x

Records of the Treasurer of Harvard University, 1669-2007


The Records of the Treasurer of Harvard University document the management and oversight of Harvard’s finances including income, expenses, and assets. The record is extensive. Reports are particularly so, extending from manuscript form in 1735 through published reports in 2007.


  • 1669-2007


Conditions on Use and Access

Permission of the University Archives is required for access to records that have not been digitized. A variety of restrictions may apply to the records: some are fragile and/or confidential. Records are restricted for 50 years from the date of their creation. 80 year restrictions are noted when known to apply. Additional restrictions may apply.


127.42 cubic feet (124 legal document boxes, 49 flat boxes, 16 document boxes, 11 card boxes, 220 volumes, 2 half document boxes, 1 legal half document box, 202 folders, 4 record cartons, and 1 reel)
The Records of the Treasurer of Harvard University document the management and oversight of Harvard’s finances including income, expenses, and assets from the late seventeenth century to the early twenty-first century. The records provide an extensive view of Harvard’s financial condition as affected by the overall economic climate in the United States, and in particular, highlight the colonial American economic landscape.

The collection spans the progression of Harvard’s financial recordkeeping from handwritten fund notes of the mid-seventeenth century to electronically issued reports in the early 21st century. The records trace Harvard’s transition from a small publicly-funded college to one of the world’s largest private universities.

The two most complete record series are the Reports and the University Accounts, which document the University’s core financial activities from 1669 to the present. The most extensive series in the collection, Real Estate, contains photographs, leases, mortgages, and related correspondence resulting from the University’s properties in thirteen states, the District of Columbia, and Bermuda. The other series in the collection are less comprehensive.

The Records of the Treasurer of Harvard University begin with the tenure of John Richards, 1669-1682. Limited records (in the form of annual reports) are available from 1825 to the present.

Historical note

The Treasurer, a member of the Harvard Corporation, is responsible for the management and oversight of Harvard’s finances including income, expenses, endowed funds, and other assets.

From the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries, the Treasurer shared some fiscal responsibilities with the Steward, later known as the Bursar. The Steward was responsible for collecting room and board fees and for paying for related goods and services. Since 1974, the Treasurer has chaired the Board of Directors of the Harvard Management Company, which is responsible for the University’s endowment, pension assets, working capital, and non-cash gifts.
  1. Harris, Seymour E. The Economics of Harvard. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970.
  2. Morison, Samuel Eliot. Three Centuries of Harvard. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1936.
Harvard Treasurers 1643-Present
Herbert Pelham
Thomas Danforth
John Richards
Samuel Nowell
John Richards
Thomas Brattle
William Brattle
John White
Edward Hutchinson
Thomas Hubbard
John Hancock
Ebenezer Storer
Jonathan Jackson
John Davis
Ebenezer Francis
Thomas Wren Ward
Samuel Atkins Eliot
William Turell Andrews
Amos Adams Lawrence
Nathaniel Silsbee
Edward William Hooper
Charles Francis Adams
Henry Lee Shattuck
William H. Claflin, Jr.
Paul Cabot
George Bennett
George Putnam
Roderick M. MacDougall
D. Ronald Daniel
2004- :
James F. Rothenberg


The Treasurers records are listed below in the following groups:
  1. Reports,
  2. Collected papers, 1678-1896
  3. Correspondence,1778-1938
  4. Gifts and named funds, 1863-1937
  5. Inventories of College property, 1715-1827
  6. Records of the Massachusetts Professorship of Natural History, 1806-1830
  7. Payments to beneficiaries of exhibitions, 1804-1861
  8. Records of the Theological Institution, 1816-1830
  9. Records of the Trustees under the will of John Eliot Thayer, 1857-1898
  10. Records of the Trustees of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, 1859-1877
  11. University accounts, 1669-1938

Acquisition Information

The majority of the records of the Harvard Treasurer were acquired by the University Archives directly from the Treasurer's office, although some early records remained the personal property of treasurers and were returned to the University at a later date.

Online access

The annual reports have been digitized and are available online. Link accompany report descriptions.
Digitization Funding Collections and items have been digitized with the generous support of The Polonsky Foundation.

Related Material

  1. Records of the Treasurer Harvard University, 1866-1977 (accession 2016.214)
  2. Early records of the Steward, 1649-1812 (UAI 71):
  3. Records of the Bursar (Steward) (UAI 70.xx)
  4. Records of the Comptroller (UAI 65.xx)
  5. John Hancock Collection (UAI 50.27.73):
  6. Harvard College Lottery Book (UAN 2)
  7. Bill from Andrew Eliot to Harvard College, 1775 (UAN 18)

Inventory update.

This document last updated 2020 September 18.

Processing Information

Most of this material was first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980. In 2005, University archivists initiated a project to analyze and describe the Records of the Treasurer. This involved a full survey, extensive reorganization, and enhanced description, as well re-housing of the entire collection. This work was carried out by Michael Austin, Juliana Kuipers, Jennifer Pelose, and Kate Bowers.

In the course of the project, call numbers were retained only for record series beginning in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The call numbers that were not retained were simplified. A list of obsolete call numbers is available in the archives. For the convenience of tracking existing citations, former call numbers and box numbers are noted on many of the folders.

Within the finding aid, dates are routinely expressed in the format of month, day, year. Whenever possible, titles were taken from the title page, cover or spine of a volume, or from the original folder. Titles appearing in the finding aid reflect the original sequence and spelling of words, but not necessarily the original punctuation or capitalization. Abbreviations have been fully spelled out.

Published versions of the documents in this collection are noted in the folder lists.
Link to catalog
Harvard University. Treasurer. Records of the Treasurer of Harvard University : an inventory
HarvardUniversity Archives

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

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