Transcripts of the Minutes of the
University of Georgia Board of Trustees,
1786-1932 & the Senatus Academicus, 1799-1842
There are no more comprehensive original sources for the early history of the University than the Minutes of the Board of Trustees and the Minutes of the Senatus Academicus, the two major governing boards of University of Georgia before the creation of the Board of Regents and the University System of Georgia.
The 1785 Charter of the University of Georgia specified that there would be two bodies, the Board of Trustees and the Board of Visitors and that together they would meet as the Senatus Academicus. In his history of the University, Thomas Reed notes that the Board of Visitors was composed of state government officials to maintain a close tie with the state. In Reed's view, the Board of Trustees came to make most of the practical decisions regarding the institution, with the Visitors joining them in the Senatus to ratify certain decisions of the Trustees. By 1859 the Senatus was considered unnecessary and was dissolved.
Even though the Senatus was eventually discarded, the minutes of both the Board of Trustees and the Senatus Academicus should be examined by researchers interesting studying an issue in the University's early history.
The transcriptions attached to this page are part of an ongoing project to render all these hand-written minutes into searchable electronic text. Please note that many eyes have been involved in this project and interpretations of text may vary. If information seems questionable, there will always be merit in comparing the transcript with the manuscript original and we welcome information regarding errors. With its faults, however, we feel this will be a welcome resource for researchers.
For the Board of Trustees, we currently offer:
- 1794-1817 (Including minutes for February 13, 1786, inserted on pp. 18-21)
- 1818-1835 (transcript not yet completed from 1828 to 1835)
- Electronic transcriptions not yet completed for 1828-1877, but a typed transcript is available in University Archives.
- 1920-1932 .
For the Senatus Academicus, we offer all the minutes held by us:
Inside the back cover of the Senatus Academicus volume are two documents that illustrate the precarious nature of the historical record. The oldest, a note from 1857, specifies that President Alonzo Church is to be given custody of the minutes of both the Trustees and the Senatus, with the exception of the current volume of Senatus minutes that will be kept in the Executive Offices of the state capitol, then in Milledgeville.
Pasted over the 1857 note is an 1893 letter from Governor W.J. Northern to Augustus Longstreet Hull, the Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Trustees, regretting that those later Senatus minutes cannot be found "amid the debris of books, pamphlets, etc., etc., that was brought over to the new state building." He further regrets that "This mass of matter has never been arranged, because it would require the labor of an expert for several weeks, and no money has been appropriated for such expenditure, and there is no fund that could be used for the purpose."
Apparently Hull had to write his 1894 Historical Sketch of the University of Georgia without the 1843-1859 Sentatus minutes, for we are still hoping they will surface somewhere amid some "debris of books, pamphlets, etc., etc." It may very well be Hull who pasted the 1857 and 1893 communications into the 1799-1842 volume, adding the humorous (or despairing?) note:
"Where are the old records? See!"