Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ENWR 3640: Writing with Sound

Podcast project research guide for students in Steph Ceraso's Fall 2021 ENWR 3640 class.

Primary Sources at Small Special Collections Library

University Archives

The university archives are UVA's academic, financial, and operational records which are deemed to be of lasting value. As is typical of all archives, not all records are important enough to save.

UVA archives are organized into various Record Groups, beginning with RG and followed by a serious of numbers, that denote the university unit where the originated. For example, record group numbers beginning RG-1 are records produced by the Rector or Board of Visitors, RG-1 are records produced by the Office of the President, etc. If you're trying to find a certain type of document or record, consider which unit of the university might have produced it.

These Record Groups may cover decades of records, which may translate into dozens of boxes or volumes. When selecting these materials, it is helpful to have a date range in mind. You may want to look for a certain incident that happened on a particular date. Alternatively, you can browse the pages of pre-Civil War records for keywords such as "Negro" or "servant" to find documentation about the enslaved.

Below are a sampling of the types of university archives where enslaved people are mentioned.

Board of Visitors Minutes

Board of Visitors Minutes Transcripts and Index*

Daybook, University of Virginia Proctor
In the 19th century, the Proctor was in charge of university finances. This daybook documents hiring of laborers, including enslaved workers.

Minutes of the General Faculty
These volumes document matters similar to those in the Journals of the Chairman of Faculty. Since they are meeting minutes, they may have more detailed accounts of students or others describing a particular event. or issue.

Minutes of the General Faculty Transcripts and Index *
The transcripts cover volumes I-VII, 1825-1856.

Journals of Chairman of Faculty
Before the creation of the Office of the President, the Chairman of the Faculty served as the head administrator for academic matters. These journals discuss curricula, the academic performance of specific students, and student disciplinary issues--including problematic interactions with enslaved people.

Accounts for General Repairs and Improvements, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds
The University's financial records frequently document the presence of enslaved workers, such as examples in the lists of "Wages and Subsistence of Hands and Horses."

*These are located in the UVA history section of the Small Special Collections Reading Room. There is no need to request them in advance.


Manuscripts, Books, and Other Primary Sources Documenting History of the Enslaved at UVA

A Map of the State of Virginia: Constructed in Conformity to Law From the Late Surveys Authorized by the Legislature and Other Original and Authentic Documents, by Herman Böÿe [Richmond, Va.: State of Virginia, 1827].
G3880 1826 .B6 1827
This map of Virginia features an inset engraving of the newly opened University of Virginia campus. The illustration depicts an enslaved African American woman caring for a white child.

"James Monroe to John B. Minor, 1856," in the Papers of the Minor and Wilson Family, MSS 3750.
James Monroe, a man formerly enslaved by UVA law professor John Minor, asks for his assistance in negotiating the purchase of his daughter.

John Walter Wayland Papers, ViU-2019-0180 Box 1
Wayland received his PhD from UVA in 1907. Among his research papers are photographs and newspaper clippings of Henry Martin, UVA's bellringer.

John Hartwell Cocke Papers, MSS 640
Cocke was a member of the Board of Visitors when UVA was founded. Cocke also enslaved hundreds of people on his family's properties in Fluvanna County and Alabama. Cocke appears frequently in the UVA archives. This collection documents his personal life and holdings rather than his work at UVA.

Language of Slavery

As noted above, when conducting research about slavery, you may be searching primary sources for terms that are now outdated or even offensive. You might use this terminology when directly quoting a primary source in a discussion or transcript, but might want to consider using more up-to-date language when talking about the source or person from that time period.

P. Gabrielle Foreman, et al. “Writing about Slavery/Teaching About Slavery: This Might Help” community-sourced document.