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Dismal Swamp Collection

Identifier: Mss. 39.2 D63

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

Transcripts collected circa 1922 by Earl Gregg Swem in connection with his editing of William Byrd's Description of the Dismal Swamp and a Proposal to Drain the Swamp. Includes land entries made in the Dismal Swamp; petitions, 1763-1785, to the Governor and Council; and papers, 1764-1785, of George Washington concerning the proposed canal in the Dismal Swamp.

The collection contains the following material:

Item 1: Byrd (William), 1922 Rare Book in the SCRC stacks, Call Number F232 .D7 B9. Description of the Dismal Swamp and a proposal to drain the swamp. By William Byrd of Westover. Edited by Earl Gregg Swem, Librarian, College of William and Mary. Printed by Charles F. Heartman, Metuchen, N.J. 1922. 32p. (Heartmans' Historical Series no. 38)

Item 2: Dismal Swamp Canal To Be Opened Again, undated Dismal Swamp Canal To Be Opened Again. Newspaper clipping. No date. 1 piece.

Item 3: Dismal Swamp Land Company vs. Robert A. Bright, 1886 Dismal Swamp Land Company vs. Robert A. Bright, personal representative of Elizabeth Macaulay, deceased. Suit in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia. 1886. 28p.

Item 4: Entries of land in the Dismal Swamp., 1763 Memoranda of entries made of land in the Great Dismal Swamp.

Item 5: Fleet (Bessie M.), 1928 Bessie M. Fleet to Dr. Earl G. Swem. 13 March 1928. Letter concerning references to the Dismal Swamp found in the Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford. 1 piece.

Item 6: Mallett (Robert W.), 1916 Abstract of Title to the Washington Entry, Dismal Swamp, made by Robert W. Mallett, 1916. Typed copy.

Item 7: Nelson (William), 1763-1785 Petition of William Nelson and others to the Governor and Council for patents for the Dismal Swamp lands, and other papers concerning the project. 1763-1785. Typed copy.

Item 8: Notes on the Dismal Swamp, undated Notes on the Dismal Swamp, collected by E.G. Swem. 2 pieces.

Item 9: Ruffin (Edmund), 1837 Observations made during an excursion to the Dismal Swamp. In the Farmers' Register, v.4, no.9, 1 January 1837. Typed copy.

Item 10: Washington (George), 1763 Notes of the Dismal Swamp. 15 October 1763. Typed copy.

Item 11: Washington (George), 1764 George Washington to Robert Carey & Co. 13 February 1764. Typed extract of a letter concerning a stump puller.

Item 12: Washington (George), 1782 George Washington, at Newburgh, to John Lewis, at Fredericksburg. 17 April 1782. Typed copy of an incomplete letter describing certain lands near the Dismal Swamp.

Item 13: Washington (George), 1784 George Washington, at Mount Vernon, to Hugh Williamson, in Congress. 31 March 1784. Typed copy of a letter concerning a proposed canal through the Dismal Swamp to connect the water of the Elizabeth River of the Nansemond River with those of Albemarle Sound.

Item 14: Washington (George), 1785 George Washington, at Mount Vernon, to John De Neufville. 8 September 1785. Typed copy of an incomplete letter inquiring as to the possibility of securing a loan from Amsterdam and of importing laborers for the Dismal Swamp land project.

Item 15: Washington (George), 1785 George Washington, at Mount Vernon, to Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia. 30 November 1785. Typed copy of letter regarding the proposed canal to connect the waters of Elizabeth River with those of Albemarle Sound.


  • Creation: 1763-1928

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.


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Acquisition Information:


Processing Information:

Box and folder list compiled by Emily Eklund, SCRC staff, in October 2011.

Guide to the Dismal Swamp Collection
Finding Aid Authors: Special Collections Staff.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
The collection description/finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository