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William & Mary

This guide provides an overview of sources, both primary & secondary, for conducting research related to William & Mary.



College of William and Mary buildings in the SCRC Wiki include everything from Adair Hall to Zable Stadium and all current and past campus buildings in between.

Information about William and Mary buildings can be found in various administrative records in the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) including the records of:

  • Facilities Management, which include blueprints and other drawings for campus buildings
  • University Archives Subject File Collection
  • University Archives Photograph Collection
  • Office of the President Records

Search the SCRC Collections Database for the many further collections available or contact the SCRC for assistance. Be sure to check out the information about photographs, video, audio, and other resources in this guide as well.




Official Records

The most voluminous part of the University Archives are the records created in the day-to-day activities of the College. These include correspondence and subject files from offices, reports, committee minutes and files, and financial data. Video, audio, and phonographic recordings documenting many of the events and concerts on campus are also a part of the Archives. Unfortunately, many of the early original records were destroyed by fire, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The College's charter given to William and Mary in 1693 was lost sometime in the past, but the Archives was able to purchase the 1693 copy which was sent to Edmund Andros, then Royal Governor of the colony of Virginia. From 1888 on, however, most of the vital records of the operations of William and Mary are intact and available on paper or microfilm. Prior to 1888 the records consist of scattered documents and ledger books.

A small group of papers documents some of the activities of President Benjamin S. Ewell between 1854 and 1888. However, the records of the Office of the President really begin in 1888 with President Lyon G. Tyler's era and continue to the present. These records are a rich source of information about the activities, events, issues, and people throughout William and Mary's recent history.

Financial records somehow fared better over the years. The earliest extant Bursar's records begin with 1745. Between 1777 and 1850 there is a significant gap, and there are some smaller gaps until 1888. From then on the financial records are fairly complete, although varying in the amount of detail which can be researched. Most of these records are available on microform.

The earliest existing bound volume of minutes of meetings of the Board of Visitors, the College's trustees, begins in 1860. There are a few other scattered records of their meetings prior to that time, including a bound volume of Faculty Reports to the Board of Visitors from 1831 to 1835. The early Board of Visitors records contain interesting and detailed information about many aspects of the administration of the College, but more recent minutes are primarily an official record of actions taken.

There are many other smaller groups of official records within the Archives which deal with every possible facet of College operations, from academic and curriculum matters to the maintenance of campus facilities and grounds. Not all series of records, however, are complete from the origination of the function to the present. Samplings of course syllabi and tests, student and faculty speeches, and even some textbooks used at the College are also included in the Archives. In addition, many early documents are contained in a special group of records entitled "The College Papers," which has its own index available in the SCRC.

Most groups of records have inventories, or folder-heading lists, to help researchers pinpoint the location of needed information. Complete information about finding materials is available here.

The minutes of meetings of the faculty begin in 1729 and, with only one gap between 1784 and 1817, continue to the present. The first volume of minutes of faculty meetings, 1729 to 1784, has been published in the William and Mary Quarterly, and is indexed in the Virginia Historical Index. Lists of individual faculty members and administrators are included in most annual campus directories and annual course catalogs (going back to 1829). A card file documenting past William and Mary faculty and administrators is available. The official personnel files of faculty and other staff are confidential and therefore not available for use.

Many early documents were formerly arranged in a special group of records entitled simply The College Papers, which has its own index.

The University Archives attempts to obtain at least one copy of each publication issued by a campus office or organization. While this is not, of course, completely possible, the Archives contains an extensive collection of twentieth-century materials, and has a number of publications back to the early 1800s. The historically important college catalogs run from 1829 to the present, with gaps, and the earliest commencement program is dated 1831.

Other important published sources of information about the college include: campus directories, student handbooks, student and faculty speeches, Charter Day programs, departmental newsletters, annual reports, publicity brochures, materials for prospective students, affirmative action reports, fliers announcing up-coming fraternity parties, news releases, athletic programs, cultural events calendars, play programs, and student newspapers. There are some scattered publications from the various branch and extension colleges which have been affiliated with William and Mary.

Search or browse the SCRC Collections Database for records from any current or past campus unit including:

Material related to the Law School is available at the William & Mary Law School Scholarship Repository.