Corporation papers, 1st series, supplements to the Harvard College Papers, Volumes 1 and 2
At a special meeting of the Harvard Corporation on February 6, 1850, the President and Fellows voted to have all manuscript papers related to the history of the College and College affairs identified, arranged, and bound. The first series of the Harvard College Papers comprises eleven volumes of historical and administrative records dating back as early as the mid-1600s arranged in chronological order. Papers that were accidentally overlooked, or newly discovered or received, were added later as supplements; this collection supplements Volumes 1 and 2, and dates from 1636 to 1785, with a small amount of material dated through 1846. Included are eighteenth and nineteenth century manuscript handwritten copies of charters, College laws, land grants and bequests to Harvard, Corporation votes, financial records, and administrative correspondence.
- Harvard University. Corporation (Organization)
Corporation papers, 1st series, supplements to the Harvard College Papers, Volumes 1 and 2, is closed for research use due to the collection's fragile condition.
Positive microfilm of the supplements to the Harvard College Papers, 1st series (UAI I.5.131.5) is available for research use.
Extent.5 cubic feet (2 legal document boxes, 1 flat box)
The supplements to the Harvard College Papers, Volumes 1 and 2, date primarily from 1636 to 1785, and are arranged chronologically. There is a small amount of material in each volume that does not follow chronological order and dates through 1846. Included are copies of charters, College laws, land grants and bequests to Harvard, Corporation votes, financial records, and administrative correspondence. The collection dates from the tenures of presidents Increase Mather (Acting President, 1685-1686; Rector, 1686-1692; President, 1692-1701), John Leverett (1708-1724), Benjamin Wadsworth (1725-1737), Edward Holyoke (1737-1769), Samuel Langdon (1774-1780), and Joseph Willard (1781-1804); and treasurers Thomas Danforth (1650-1668), Thomas Hubbard (1752-1773), John Hancock (1773-1777), and Ebenezer Storer (1777-1807).
The first volume contains mainly eighteenth and nineteenth century handwritten manuscript copies of documents dated 1636-1763, including the College charter and College laws, and votes of the Massachusetts General Court; bequests from donors including Henry Webb, William Pennoyer, and Daniel Williams; Harvard Corporation votes; memorials lodged by Tutors, led by Nicholas Sever, seeking seats in the Corporation; and papers pertaining to land in Lunenberg and Townsend, Massachusetts, granted to the College by the General Court. There are also copies of a list of all land granted to the College by Massachusetts from 1636 to 1846, and a list of legacies funding scholarships to the College and appropriations for professorships from 1650 to 1796.
The second volume contains duplicate and original bills, accounts, deeds, wills, correspondence, and memorials, dated 1764-1785. Included are invoices and accounts of books and apparatus ordered for the College Library; receipts for payment to the Corporation by students; and bills from the College Steward and Buttery. There is some correspondence dated 1839-1840 to Harvard President Josiah Quincy.
In the late nineteenth century, Keeper of the Archives William Garrott Brown numbered each of the documents in the supplements to the Harvard College Papers, Volumes 1 and 2. Duplicates of documents found in the College Papers and other collections in the Harvard University Archives are identified in the item-level scope and content notes. During conservation treatment in 2018, the records were removed from the volumes, foldered, and placed in boxes in their original order.
At a special meeting of the Harvard Corporation on February 6, 1850, the President and Fellows voted that "the President cause to be examined and arranged all the manuscript papers relating to the College, whether records, letters, or other papers now in Gore Hall or other buildings of the University, and procure such as are worthy of preservation to be substantially bound." James W. Harris, an assistant in the Library who also served as an assistant to President Jared Sparks, was assigned the task of arranging and indexing the papers. Historical and administrative records dating back as early as the mid-1600s were gathered together and arranged in chronological order in eleven bound volumes which were then placed in the Library. This collection is known as Harvard University. Corporation. Harvard College Papers, 1st series, 1636-1825, 1831. A second series of Harvard College Papers covers the years 1826 to 1863.
After 1850, historical records continued to be collected and arranged on an intermittent basis. Papers that were accidentally overlooked, or newly discovered or received, were added later as supplements. Two supplementary volumes were prepared by Keeper of the Archives William Garrott Brown (1868-1913) in the late 1890s, while he was creating a calendar, or descriptive inventory, for the Harvard College Papers, 1st series. These volumes cover the years 1636 through 1846, although the bulk of the material is dated 1636-1785.
Brown, who worked under Harvard Librarian Justin Winsor (1877-1897) inventoried Volumes 1-5 in the College Papers, but not the later volumes in the collection. The inventory, which also includes the supplements for Volumes 1-4, is housed in Harvard University. Corporation. Harvard College Papers: Calendar, 1636-1815.
Note regarding date conventions
Some documents dated between January 1 and March 25 before 1752 have been cited with the double date convention, e.g., March 13, 1638/9. 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 records are arranged in two series:
- Corporation papers, 1st series, supplements to the Harvard College Papers, Volume 1, 1636-1846
- Corporation papers, 1st series, supplements to the Harvard College Papers, Volume 2, 1764-1840
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Volume 1 was received by the Harvard University Archives on March 4, 1893.
Volume 2 was received by the Harvard University Archives on April 4, 1893.
These items were originally contained within the collection and are described in the volumes' indexes, but were removed from the collection at an unknown date. Their current location, when known, is noted in the list below.
Items removed from Volume 1
- Items 24: Deed of mortgage of a lot in Boston near the Mill Bridge to John Richards, executed by William Smith, cordwainer and Martha, his wife, 1686-1717. Can be found in Harvard University. Corporation. Records of land and property owned by Harvard University, 1643-1835 (UAI 15.750):
- Item 25: Mortgage on a piece of land in Boston near the Roxbury Gate given by Seth Perry and his wife to John Richards. 1693-1708. Can be found in Harvard University. Corporation. Records of land and property owned by Harvard University, 1643-1835 (UAI 15.750):
- Item 29: Draft of a resignation by President Mather, 1697.
- Item 30: Another draft of President Mather's resignation, 1697, with differing content from item 29.
- Item 31: Another draft of President Mather's resignation, 1697, differing slightly from item 29.
- Items 53-86, 89-110: Reports on college districts, 1743-1750. Can be found in Harvard College (1636-1780). Scholars of the House. District reports created by the Scholars of the House, 1738-1769 (UAIII 15.22):
Items removed from Volume 2
- Items 3-50: Reports on college districts, 1764-1766. Can be found in Harvard College (1636-1780). Scholars of the House. District reports created by the Scholars of the House, 1738-1769 (UAIII 15.22):
- Item 60: Harvard College Steward's third quarter bill, December 11, 1772 to March 12, 1773.
- Item 70: Thomas Longman's bill for a case of books to Harvard College, July 19, 1774.
This document last updated 2023 November 20.
This finding aid was created by Brooke McManus in January 2018.
Preservation and description of the Corporation papers, 1st series, supplements to the Harvard College Papers, Volumes 1 and 2, were supported by the Colonial North America at Harvard Library Project.
Titles were assigned by the archivist, unless otherwise noted.
- Brown, William Garrott, 1868-1913
- Cambridge (Mass.) -- History -- Colonial period, 1600-1775
- Danforth, Thomas, 1623-1699
- Deeds -- Massachusetts -- Early works to 1800.
- Hancock, John
- Harvard College (1636-1780) -- Administration -- History
- Harvard College (1636-1780) -- Bequests
- Harvard College (1636-1780) -- Discipline
- Harvard College (1636-1780) -- Finance
- Harvard College (1636-1780) -- Presidents
- Harvard College Library -- History
- Harvard University -- Charters
- Harvard University -- Food service
- Harvard University -- Regulations
- Harvard University -- Relations with Massachusetts
- Harvard University. Board of Overseers
- Holyoke, Edward, 1689-1769
- Langdon, Samuel, 1723-1797
- Legal instruments.
- Leverett, John, 1662-1724
- Lunenburg (Mass. : Town) -- History
- Mather, Increase, 1639-1723
- Pennoyer, William
- Receipts (financial records).
- Royall, Isaac, Jr., 1719-1781
- Townsend (Mass.) -- History
- Wadsworth, Benjamin, 1670-1737
- Webb, Henry, 1601-1660
- Willard, Joseph, 1738-1804
- Williams, Daniel, 1643?-1716
- Harvard University. Corporation. Corporation papers, 1st series, supplements to the Harvard College Papers, Volumes 1 and 2, 1636-1846: an inventory
- Harvard University Archives
- Language of description
- EAD ID
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.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA