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The University Archives is the memory of William & Mary, documenting its history from before the founding in 1693 to the present. The University Archives is part of the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library. The wide variety of materials relating to the College and its people through the years includes official records created in the College's daily operations, photographs, publications, video and audio tape recordings, personal papers and books or articles written by or about past or current William & Mary people, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and artifacts.


Time has taken its toll on the records of the College. The Wren Building, the main campus building, suffered fires in 1705, 1859, and 1862, destroying many of the original records. Occupation of the Wren Building by military units during the American Revolution and the Civil War also did significant damage to the records. There is, however, still a wealth of information on all eras of William & Mary's history. Late nineteenth and twentieth-century materials comprise the bulk of the Archives collection, although a number of earlier documents do still exist. From 1888 on, most of William & Mary's vital records are intact and available, either in paper copy or on microfilm.

Chronological History of the College

A chronology of the College based on the Vital Facts booklet first produced by librarian Earl Gregg Swem in 1921 is available from the College's website. The most recent paper edition was published in 2004 and the online version continues to be updated by the College.


The University Archives attempts to obtain at least one copy of William & Mary publications (printed and duplicated materials) issued by campus offices, organizations, or individuals. While this is not, of course, completely possible, the Archives contains an extensive collection of twentieth-century materials, and has a number of publications going back into 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 & Mary.

The publications used by students in the Spring 2007 class includes The Flat Hat, The DoG Street Journal, The Virginia Informer, The Progressive, The Pillory, The Gallery (formerly The Gallery of Writing), Winged Nation, and Jump!

Additional Information

Please contact the SCRC with any questions, comments, or suggestions.

Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the SCRC's access tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive


Want to find out more?

To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for other resources to help you find materials of interest.

Questions? Have ideas or updates for articles you'd like to see? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at or 757-221-3090.

A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.