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Benjamin Crowninshield Papers

Identifier: UA 5.099

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The collection includes one letter written by Crowninshield and four letters received by him while a student at the College of William & Mary in May and June of 1804.

In his May 30, 1804 letter, he writes, “The pleasing manners of this place would be enough to keep one here, but the advantages of the college, I should think, would keep me here forever.” He also discusses the theories of Sir Isaac Newton and mentions walking with the president of William & Mary, Bishop James Madison. Of particular note is his description of an incident involving William & Mary students desecrating Bruton Parish Church. He mentions the departure of the organist and that the organ has fallen to ruin. He writes, "The students in their last insurrection, broke into the Church, beat the windows down, and nearly completed the destruction of the organ. Such frequent behaviors has discouraged the inhabitants, and they have abandoned both the organ and Church."

The other letters are from B. L. and William Oliver, both of Salem, John Frobel of Mt. Vernon, and Thomas [?] Blanchard of Norfolk.


  • Creation: 1804 May, June

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical / Historical

Benjamin Crowninshield was a student at the College of William and Mary in 1804-1805. He was from Salem, Massachusetts, and according to a June 18, 1933 article printed in The Boston Sunday Globe, he was the "first yankee who ever went south to college."


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Custodial History:

This material was formerly part of the University Archives Faculty-Alumni File Collection.

Acquisition Information:


Related Materials:

Faculty-Alumni File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library

Guide to the Benjamin Crowninshield Papers
SCRC Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository