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COLLECTION Identifier: UAI15.750

Records of land and property owned by Harvard University


In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Harvard received numerous gifts of land and property from benevolent individuals as well as from the General Court of Massachusetts and the proprietors of several settlements in western Massachusetts. The Records of land and property owned by Harvard University contain records related to the land and property owned and managed by Harvard between 1643 and 1835 and include legal documents, leases and memoranda, surveyors' plans and appraisals of many of the properties, correspondence, bills, and other materials. Although management of the land holdings was largely the responsibility of the College Treasurer, these records demonstrate that Harvard's President and other staff were also actively involved in land-related concerns.


  • 1643-1835


Researcher Access

The Records of land and property owned by Harvard University are open for research with the following exceptions: materials in boxes 10, 11, 12, and 13 are closed to research due to their fragile state. These records have been severely damaged by mold, and some are so severely damaged that their contents are largely illegible (including all records related to Shawshin Farm in Billerica, Massachusetts). The contents of other damaged records are more clear and are listed in this finding aid.

Copying Restriction

Copying of fragile materials may be limited.


8 cubic feet (11 document boxes, 7 flat boxes)
The Records of land and property owned by Harvard University document the Harvard Corporation's management and oversight of the University's land and property holdings from the mid seventeenth century into the nineteenth century. These properties extended across New England, in what is now Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine, and also included revenue generated from the lease of an estate in England. Records include correspondence; leases, bonds, deeds, wills, and other legal documents; surveyors' plans and assessments of various lands; bills; statements of account; and memoranda. The records provide insight into land settlement in colonial New England; the challenges of marking boundaries and establishing legal ownership of land; economic difficulties in the colonies; and the legal, interpersonal, and financial challenges of managing extensive property holdings. Many of the records were created by these Harvard Treasurers: Thomas Danforth, Thomas Brattle, John White, Edward Hutchinson, Thomas Hubbard, John Hancock, Ebenezer Storer, Jonathan Jackson, John Davis, Ebenezer Francis, and Thomas Wren Ward.

It should be noted that some documents whose dates are between January 1 and March 25 in the years prior to 1752 have been cited with the double date convention, e.g. February 27, 1658/9. This convention has been followed only when the document itself indicates the date in such a manner. This convention was used in England and the North American colonies between 1582 and 1752. The first date refers to the year according to the Julian calendar, which began on March 25, while the second refers to the year according to the Gregorian calendar, which began on January 1.


The collection is arranged in twenty-two series, according to geographic location:
  1. I. Rowley, 1643-1748
  2. II. Pequot land,1652-1674
  3. III. Webb Estate (Boston), 1660-1827
  4. IV. Pennoyer Estate,1670-1829
  5. V.Hayward's Pasture, 1672-1816
  6. VI. Ward's Island (Bumpkin Island),1680-1821
  7. VII. Maine / "Eastern lands,"1690-1835
  8. ___A.Merriconeag Neck, 1690-1743, 1773
  9. ___B. Phillipsburg, 1727-1808
  10. ___C. Bridgton,1780-1807
  11. ___D.Pownalborough, 1780-1833
  12. ___E. Miscellaneous lands, 1785-1835
  13. ___F. Lottery Lands,1787-1835
  14. ___G.Turner, 1787-1808
  15. ___H. Fryeburg and Leeds / Livermore,1796-1809
  16. ___I.Bucksport, 1801-1835
  17. ___J. Sullivan, 1802-1817
  18. ___K. Correspondence with PrentissMellen, 1808-1827
  19. ___L. Land Auction,1832-1835
  20. VIII. Newton, 1704-1812
  21. IX.Billerica Farm (Shawshin Farm), 1708-1779
  22. X. Rutland,1718-1793
  23. XI. Framingham (Danforth Estate),1698-1779
  24. XII.Lunenburg, 1729-1756
  25. XIII. Narragansett farm,1696-1829
  26. XIV. Townsend, 1733-1802
  27. XV. Waltham Farm (Rogers Farm),1737-1826
  28. XVI. Coggan's Marsh and Stoughton's Marsh,1654/5-1823
  29. XVII. Gridley Estate, 1761-1792
  30. XVIII. Winchendon,1784-1808
  31. XIX. Stoughton's Pasture, 1710-1803
  32. XX. Granby,1794-1798
  33. XXI. Cambridge, 1705-1808
  34. XXII. Other lands,1647-1830
Records within each series are arranged chronologically, and undated records are located at the end of each series.

Former call numbers

Former call numbers are noted throughout the finding aid at the item and/or series level.
Materials formerly classified as UAI 15.775 Lands Records: Collection of records, 1704-1830, have been integrated into the appropriate series and are now found throughout the collection. They include records related to properties in Newton, Rutland, Lunenburg, Townsend, Ward's Island, Coggan's Marsh, Stoughton's Marsh, the Gridley Estate, Stoughton's Pasture, Winchendon,Granby, the Webb Estate, the Pennoyer Estate, Hayward's Pasture, and the Waltham farm (Rogers Farm).

Acquisition information

The documents in this collection are University records and were acquired in the course of University business. Four of the documents were donated to the archives by Charles Holt Taylor in 1924 and 1931; this provenance information is noted at the item level in the following folder list.

Digitization Funding

Collections and items have been digitized with the generous support of The Polonsky Foundation.

Related Materials

In the Harvard University Archives
  1. Harvard University. Treasurer.Records of the Treasurer of Harvard University (UAI 50.xx):
  2. CollegeBook 3 in Harvard University. Corporation. College Books, 1636-1827 (UAI 5.5):
  3. Accountsof lands belonging to Harvard College, 1806 (UAI 15.798)
  4. Publications of the Colonial Society ofMassachusetts [transcriptions of documents in this collection, as wellas engravings done after surveyors' plans in the collection, are found inmultiple volumes of this publication]
  5. Deed of sale for property inFramingham, Massachusetts, from Joseph Buckminster to Moses Haven, March 6,1706 (HUM 34)
In the Massachusetts Archives

Inventory update

This document last updated 2021 July 26.

Processing Information

These records were previously dispersed both physically and intellectually, and classified under numerous call numbers. Some of the records were glued into bound volumes and required removal and rehousing. All of the records were re-processed in 2010 and brought together as a single collection. Re-processing involved a collection survey, re-housing in appropriate archival folders, and the creation of this finding aid.

This finding aid was created by Laura Morris in August 2010.

Preservation and description of the Records of land and property owned by Harvard University was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
Link to catalog
Harvard University. Corporation. Records of land and property owned by Harvard University, 1643-1835: 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.

Pusey Library
Harvard Yard
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461