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COLLECTION Identifier: HUG 1228

Papers of the Bordman family


The Bordman family of Cambridge, Massachusetts maintained a long and prominent relationship with Harvard College and the local community. Multiple generations of Bordman men served as the College's Steward and the Cambridge Town Clerk from the mid-17th century through the close of the 18th century. Most of the Papers of the Bordman family collection document real estate and business transactions of Andrew Bordman II (1681-1747). Many items in the collection were created as the Bordmans expanded their family's property holdings and engaged in local financial and commercial activities in Cambridge. Documents include a journal and annotated almanacs, deeds of sale, quitclaims, bills and receipts, bonds, counterbonds, wills, two warrants of appointment, and a writ.


  • 1686-1837

Researcher Access

The Papers of the Bordman Family are open for research.

Copying Restriction

Copying of fragile materials may be limited.


.68 cubic feet (1 document box, 1 flat box, 1 custom box, and 1 book box)
Most of the Papers of the Bordman Family collection document the real estate and business transactions of Andrew Bordman II (1681-1747). Many items in the collection were created as Bordman expanded his family's property holdings and engaged in local financial and merchantile activities in the late 17th and 18th centuries.

The collection is arranged into three series: journals, legal and financial records, and warrants of appointment. The journal series consists of a personal notebook used both by Aaron Bordman I and Andrew Bordman II and annotated almanacs kept by Andrew Bordman II. The legal and financial records series includes deeds of sale, a set of quitclaim documents related to the estate of Harvard President Benjamin Wadsworth, bills and receipts, an indenture for property rental, bonds and counter bonds, real estate records of Andrew Bordman IV, and family will and estate papers. The most chronologically expansive series is the Deeds of sale that span from 1705 to 1788. The collection also includes photostat copies of two royal warrants appointing Andrew Bordman III a Justice of the Peace and a Justice in the Middlesex County Court of Common Pleases.

While most records were created by Andrew Bordman II, they mention many members of the Cambridge community including women and slaves. Notably, a 1717 deed of sale records the purchase of a slave named "Cuffy." The estate papers and deeds of sale offer resources for studying the role of women in property ownership and inheritance. The personal notebook kept by both Aaron Bordman I and Andrew Bordman II between 1686-1745 includes assorted financial records documenting their activities as merchants, as well as a few entries for the Harvard Steward's accounts.

Biographical Note

Selected list of Bordman Family members in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  1. William Bordman (c. 1614-1685), stepson of Stephen Day, married Frances ?. Harvard Steward from the mid 1660s-1668.
  2. Andrew Bordman I (1646-1687), son of William Bordman, married Ruth Bull (1651-1690). Harvard Steward from 1682-1687.
  3. Aaron Bordman I (1649-1702/3), son of William Bordman, married Mary ?. Harvard Steward from 1687-1703.
  4. Ruth Bordman Wadsworth (1672-1744/5), daughter of Andrew Bordman I, married Benjamin Wadsworth.
  5. Aaron Bordman II (1686-1718/19), son of Aaron Bordman I, married Elizabeth Parker (d. 1732).
  6. Moses Bordman (1675/6-1750/51), son of Aaron Bordman I, married Abigail Hastings (d. 1752).
  7. Andrew Bordman II (1670-1747), son of Andrew Bordman I, married Elizabeth Trusedale (1673-1760). Harvard Steward from 1703-1747.
  8. Andrew Bordman (1720-1776 Harvard AB 1737), son of Moses Bordman.
  9. Mary Bordman Stearns (b. 1713), daughter of Moses Bordman, married Josiah Stearns.
  10. Andrew Bordman III (1701-1769 Harvard AB 1719), son of Andrew Bordman II, married Sarah Phips (d. 1793). Harvard Steward from 1747-1750.
  11. Andrew Bordman IV (1745-1817), son of Andrew Bordman III, married Mary Blair Townsend (1751-1797) and Abigail Richardson (1770-1848).
The Bordman family of Cambridge, Massachusetts held a long and prominent relationship with Harvard College and the local community. Multiple generations of Bordman men served as the College's Steward and the Cambridge Town Clerk from the mid-17th century through the close of the 18th century.

The history of the Bordman Family in Massachusetts began with the arrival of William Bordman (c. 1614-1685) from England in 1638. William arrived in Cambridge with his mother Rebecca and stepfather Stephen Day (d. 1668) as part of Day's indenture to the Reverend Jose Glover. In Cambridge, Bordman worked as a tailor, and accepted the position of the Harvard College Steward in the mid 1660s. The Harvard Corporation appointed the Steward to manage the residential operations of the College. He purchased supplies, supervised staff, and acted as the financial liaison between students and College administration.

In accepting the Stewardship, William started a relationship with the College that the Bordmans would continue for nearly a century as Harvard Stewards and Cooks. William also began a family tradition of repeating first names among subsequent generations. The names Aaron, Andrew, Mary, Moses, Ruth, and William appear regularly among Bordman birth records through the end of 18th century. In the context of Harvard's history, the appearance of three Stewards named Andrew Bordman promoted a practice, used here, of distinguishing them by post-nominal roman numerals.

William served as Steward through 1668, and acted as the College Cook until his death in 1685. William's son, Andrew Bordman I (1646-1687), replaced his father as Cook, and served as College Steward until his own death from small pox in July 1687. Andrew's brother Aaron (1649-1702/3) next held the Stewardship from 1687 until his own death.

With a £50 inheritance, William Bordman began purchasing land around Harvard in the 17th century. By the time Aaron's nephew Andrew Bordman II (1670-1747) inherited the Harvard Stewardship in 1703, he and his relatives held a substantial amount of real estate and were prominent members of the Cambridge community. Beginning with William Bordman's occupation as a tailor, the Bordmans held various Cambridge occupations that helped fund their land purchases. Andrew Bordman I, like his father, worked as a tailor and also ran a store in Cambridge. Aaron Bordman I worked as a locksmith and Andrew Bordman II and Aaron Bordman II were both saddlers. Moses Bordman was a tanner and militia captain.

Along with the Stewardship, which he held until his death in 1747, Andrew Bordman II served as Town Clerk from 1700 until 1731, Town Treasurer (1701-1747), Selectman (1706-1732), and a Representative in 1719 and 1720. Andrew Bordman II married Elizabeth Truesdale in 1697, and they had two children, Ruth (later married to John Higginson) and Andrew Bordman III.

Andrew Bordman III (1701-1769 Harvard AB 1719) was the last member of the family appointed Steward. He succeeded his father as the College's Steward in 1747, but was dismissed from the position on March 28, 1750 for failing to make the dining facilities operational enough for students to take commons there. Like his father, he held a number of local government positions including Town Clerk from 1731 to 1769, Town Treasurer (1747-1769), Justice of the Peace, Register of Probate, and a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. His marriage to Sarah Phips in 1731/2 produced four children. He died on March 19, 1760.

Andrew Bordman III's son, Andrew Bordman IV (1745-1817) never held the position of Harvard Steward, but he did serve as Town Clerk from 1769 until 1780, and Town Treasurer from 1777 to 1778. In 1782 he moved with his mother Sarah and his wife Mary Townsend Bordman to Tewksbury, Mass., and remained there until 1796. After his mother's death in 1793, Andrew Bordman IV inherited over 100 acres of land in Cambridge, and made a substantial income from property speculation in the early 19th century. After the death of Mary in 1797, Bordman IV married Abigail Richardson. There were no children from either marriage, and the Bordman line ended with Andrew's death on July 27, 1817.

A more complete genealogy of the Bordman family in Cambridge can be found in the collection's control file available in the Harvard University Archives.


The collection is arranged in three series:
  1. Journals, 1686-1745
  2. Legal and financial records, 1705-1837
  3. Warrants of appointment, 1752-1761

Acquisition information

Most of the documents in the collection were donated to Harvard University on September 2, 1937 by George Richardson Harlow of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Harlow was a descendant of Joshua Harlow and Phebe Richardson, the sister of Abigail Richardson who married Andrew Bordman IV in 1798. The 1737 New England Diary almanac was donated by the estate of the Misses Harris. All other almanacs in the collection were received in the Harvard University Library in April 1950 from Dartmouth College.

Online access

All of the papers have been digitized and are available online. Links accompany detailed descriptions.

Related Materials

In the Harvard University Archives
  1. Harvard University. Steward. Early records of the Steward, 1649-1812 (UAI 71):


  • Massachusetts Daughters of the American Revolution Hannah Winthrop Chapter. An Historic Guide to Cambridge. (BiblioBazaar, 2009).
  • Moriarty, G. Andrews. "Notes on the family of Major William Boardman" in New England Historical and Genealogical Register , October 1923, pages 305-312.
  • Paige, Lucius R. History of Cambridge, Massachusetts 1630-1877. (Boston: H. O. Houghton and Company, 1877).

Inventory update

This document last updated 2021 July 22.

Processing Information

The material was first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980. The material was re-processed in 2010 and the call numbers were simplified to HUG 1228. A list of superceded call numbers is available at the end of the finding aid. Re-processing involved a collection survey, re-housing in appropriate archival folders and boxes, and the creation of this finding aid.

This finding aid contains harmful language that is now considered racist and derogatory. Contextual statements where this language appears are located at the series, subseries, and item level. Titles and narrative description transcribed from the items.

This finding aid was created by Diann Benti in July 2010.

Preservation and description of the Papers of the Bordman family was supported the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
Link to catalog
Bordman family. Papers of the Bordman family, 1686-1837: an inventory

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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