'Black Schools' in Canada, America and the Bahamas, 1645-1900

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The archives of the Associates of Dr Bray to 1900

The archives of the Associates of Dr Bray to 1900

[The books] are come over very seasonably, as the Society are about settling some Negroe schools in these parts, in which they will be of the greatest service
Rev. Alistair GardenCharles Town, Sept 1742

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This religious society founded schools for black children in North America

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The body of records consists primarily of correspondence files, minute books and financial reports for the institution established by Dr Thomas Bray and his associates. The files concern the organisation of the Associates up to 1900, and include annual reports. Documents relating solely to the period after 1900, when the Associates were in decline (e.g. BRAY/f 20-29 in the initial series), have not been reproduced. Of particular interest in this collection is the material on the Associates' activities in North America, including Canada, and in the Bahamas, both in the establishment and running of their Negro Schools and in the grant of library books. This work was funded in part by Mr D'Allone's Charitable Bequest for the Conversion of Negroes" (e.g. in BRAY/GENERAL/1/f5). Much of the remaining correspondence is the result of the provision of Bray libraries in England, Wales and abroad. Detailed financial accounts for the purchase and sending of books to colonial parochial libraries is included and these, with the correspondence from the early 18th century, allow the development and subsequent decline of the organisation to be understood. The documents are organised by geographical location, except for ledgers of reports and volumes of the minutes of meetings, which are numbered chronologically by subject in a running series. The GENERAL heading denotes home correspondence, meaning that entered into by the Associates of Dr Bray, and REP denotes annual reports. This archive forms part of the USPG archive, which is now held at the Rhodes House Library, Oxford.


'Black Schools' in Canada, America and the Bahamas, 1645-1900...

Containing 24,025 pages belonging to 127 documents housed in 7 volumes...

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Administrative records and letters of the Associates

BRAY/f These documents include minute books, letter books and account books for the Associates of Dr Bray. The minute books...

Printed books in the archive

BRAY/Printed Books These items were intended to be used for religious guidance. The majority of these texts were published between...

Rules and reports of the Associates

BRAY/REP. These documents discuss the founding ambitions of the Associates of Dr Bray and the rules of the organisation; through...

Correspondence and records for schools in America

BRAY/N.AMERICA. Four boxes of correspondence between those in various locations within America and the Associates. The correspondence covers donations, including...


  • These items include copies of some 17th and 18th century books that were intended to provide religious guidance. Most of these books were written by the society's founder Thomas Bray.
  • Reviews of libraries reveal which books the associates were using to teach the local populations they lived with. Some of these missionaries' libraries were located in England.
  • The society's accounts enable the reader to see how finances affected the spread of the schools and how the associates tried to address falling donations during the 19th century.
  • The Canadian correspondence focuses on establishing schools in Nova Scotia. The schools were in Digby, Halifax, Hammonds Plains, and Birchtown.
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