William and Mary Historical Highlights

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This is a working chronological list of William and Mary Historical Highlights prepared for use by staff of the Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center. There is of course much more to the history of the College of William and Mary than the dates and vignettes listed here. Feel free to browse this wiki to find more of these stories and consult any of the several books to use for College history research.






  • 1691: Reverend James Blair is given instructions to found a college in Virginia.
  • 1861: President Benjamin S. Ewell, the professors, and many students enter the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
  • 1966: Parent's Day was begun.
  • 1976: The college launches its largest fund raising effort yet the Campaign for the College.
  • 1981: Earl Gregg Swem Library received its one-millionth volume.
  • May 3, 2005: Fire in Preston Hall.
  • May 4, 1989: Van Buren band-orchestra room named.
  • May 5, 1862: Civil War Battle of Williamsburg.
  • May 8, 1784: Title of public lands surrounding Williamsburg and Jamestown is given to the college.
  • May 8, 1966: Dupont Hall is dedicated.
  • May 11. 2008: Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin, a member of the Class of 1995, delivers the 2008 commencement address.
  • May 13, 1909: Dedication of Tucker Hall.
  • May 14, 1694: Coat of Arms is issued.
  • May 14, 2000: Henry A. Kissinger was elected as the College's 22nd Chancellor by the Board of Visitors.
  • May 14, 2006: Archbishop Desmond Tutu delivers the 2006 commencement address at the College.
  • May 15, 1926: Calvin Coolidge speaks on campus.
  • May 16, 1993: For the first time, Commencement was held in Walter J. Zable Stadium.
  • May 17, 1930: Groundbreaking of Brown Hall.
  • May 23, 1991: The Association of 1775 was established.
  • May 31, 1940: Glen Miller and his orchestra preform at William and Mary.








Other Important Dates

Material in the Special Collections Research Center


  • SCRC File.

Need help?

To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for an overview of the Special Collections Database, W&M Digital Archive, Flat Hat-William & Mary News-Alumni Gazette index, card catalogs, and other tools available to help you find material of interest in William & Mary Libraries Special Collections Research Center.

Questions? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at spcoll@wm.edu or 757-221-3090, or visit the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at William & Mary.

A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki
The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.