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Treasurer, Yale University, records

Call Number: RU 151
Scope and Contents

The massive sub-record group of Finance and Administration known as the Treasurer's Records (RU 151) contains the largest continuous set of records in the Yale Archives. Records from 1701 - 1971 document every facet of Yale's financial history. Included in the sub-group are the general summaries of receipts and expenditures and the minute details of charges to a student for breakage in the chemistry lab or the cost of a bath-tub fixture in Jonathan Edwards College.

From the beginning of its history in 1701 Yale has had a treasurer to oversee the expenses and income of the college, to keep accurate books of the financial affairs, to collect fees from students and others, to advise on investment policy, to solicit and collect gifts, and in many other ways to secure the institution's financial well-being. (See appendix A for a complete list of names and dates of Yale's treasurers, 1701 - 1971.) The responsibilities of the office grew over the course of the more than two centuries covered by these records. In the early days a treasurer and steward could handle all duties. These records chart the additions of assistant treasurers, financial agents, cashiers, bursars, comptrollers, clerks, legal counsel, investment counselors, and real estate agents, all to enable the treasurer's office to handle the ever increasing work load.

The complexity of the treasurer's duties is reflected in the records kept by the office and in the arrangement established for these records. The arrangement does not establish specifically what office or department under the treasurer generated which records (as would be correct archival procedure). This would have been impossible to establish since the records had no markings to indicate the office of origin. The records are now arranged in six series.

Series I, GENERAL ACCOUNTING BOOKS, contains the records created to account for all receipts and expenses of the college, both in summary form on an annual basis, as in the reports to the Yale Corporation, and on a day-to-day, item-by-item basis, as in the cash journals. Series II, BURSAR'S RECORDS, contains those records connected with the levying and collecting of student fees. Series III, CORRESPONDENCE, includes both incoming and outgoing letters dealing with all facets of the treasurer's office. Series IV, BENEFACTORS, encompasses the histories, registers, and other records, including wills, relating to gifts, donations, and bequests to the university. Series V, INVESTMENTS, includes the accounts of real estate, stocks and bonds, and other securities owned by the university and the reckoning of the income, i. e., rent, dividends, and interest, generated by these investments. Series VI, CONSTRUCTION RECORDS, is composed of contracts, specifications, estimates, bills, and other materials gathered in the oversight of the erection of Yale buildings. Each of the series is divided into numerous sub-series and further into sections. The contents and arrangement of each of these series is described in greater detail in the relevant series description.

Though the records span the period 1701 - 1971, the great bulk of material dates from 1833 - 1939. The sparse records in the early years can be explained in part by the passage of time and the erratic, often idiosyncratic nature of bookkeeping at that time. Later Yale treasurers instituted more and more standardized, careful practices for recording all necessary detail for an expanding institution. The unexpectedly small size of the twentieth-century records might stem from a greater willingness on the part of later treasurers to dispose of non-current records in order to create space in crowded offices.

Beginning in the 1930s the treasurer's office began depositing the records of this sub-group in the Yale University Library. Previous to that the records had been in the treasurer's office and were moved from building to building as the office moved. No doubt some records were lost in moves that took the personnel of the treasurer's office from the Trumbull Gallery (later called the Treasury Building) to Woodbridge Hall, Byers Hall, and 451 College Street.

The records sat for many years unorganized; though several archivists attempted to design a plan of arrangement, the great quantity of records (nearly 400 feet) frustrated these plans for processing. In 1979 when a plan of arrangement for the Yale Archives was instituted and record group numbers assigned, the treasurer's records were classified under the records of Finance and Administration (YRG 5-B). They were given the designation YRG 5-B (later reclassed as RU 151) to reflect the fact that in 1977 the treasurer's office had been reorganized under the newly designated vice president for finance and administration. (See appendix B for a table of organization for Finance and Administration.) The plan of arrangement made RU 151 a closed sub-group; since no new records would in future be added the records could be processed completely and finally. The records in RU 151 include only those treasurer's records on deposit in the library prior to 1979.

It should be noted that the vice president for finance and administration and the offices under him retained many financial records, similar to those in this sub-group, which date prior to 1979. As the archives receives these records they will be incorporated into archival record groups according to the new classification scheme, by office of origin. Therefore, audit work papers (1967-1980) received by the archives in October, 1980, are now filed under Auditing, YRG 5-C, though the same type of records are included in Series I of of YRG 5-B. Similarly an accession of real estate files (1940-1979) received in February, 1980, is now filed in YRG 5-A while real estate files, ca. 1722-1930, are included in Series V of YRG 5-B. (See appendix C for an outline of all the sub-record groups in YRG5.) No materials received from functioning offices will ever be added to RU 151.

The treasurer's office deposited many records with the archives that were technically not the records of the treasurer but had presumably been stored in the office for safekeeping or for lack of a better place to put them. A large number of letters to and from President Ezra Stiles came with these records but were removed from the records years ago. These are now part of the Ezra Stiles Papers in the Beinecke Rare Book Library. The Connecticut Education Society Records (# 1242), the Yale Gymnasium Corporation Records (# 1243), and the York Square Trustees Records (# 1250) now exist as separate distinct manuscript groups, each with its own register. Other records have been transferred to appropriate records groups in the Yale Archives.

Manuscripts and Archives has personal papers for several Yale treasurers, and these papers may contain additional records of the treasurer's office. See appendix A for a list of personal papers of Yale treasurers in Manuscripts and Archives.

All appendices referred to in the the description of the papers are available only in the print version of the finding aid. Please consult the reference archivist for assistance.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Some records in this finding aid have been redacted, as they include student names, donor names, and other restricted data. These records will not appear in the published finding aid.


The records are arranged in six series: I. General Accounting Books, 1701-1971. II. Bursar's Records, 1727-1941. III. Correspondence, 1717-1940. IV. Benefactors, 1700-1963. V. Investments, 1722-1926. VI. Construction Records, 1752-1941. Folios. Subsequent accessions.

Existence and Location of Originals

Originals destroyed after filming.

357.5 Linear Feet (560 boxes)
Related Names
Yale University. Treasurer
Language of Materials