Remembering: William & Mary's Brafferton Indian School 1723-2023

February 10, 2023 to April 21, 2023

Handwritten text reading Remembering William & Mary's Brafferton Indian School 1723 to 2023 on a golden yellow watercolor surface with a beaded illustration from "A Path to the Brafferton" peace belt

The 1693 Royal Charter establishing the College of William & Mary in Virginia includes a mandate to educate “the Western Indians.” After securing funding from the estate of the scientist Sir Robert Boyle, a magnificent Georgian structure was completed in 1723 to educate and house the “Indian boys” on the school’s campus. Named for the Brafferton lands in Yorkshire, England, the building served as a classroom and living space for more than 125 Native students from at least 26 different tribes between 1723 and 1776, making the Brafferton Indian School the most important Native school in the American colonies.

The Brafferton School story quilt created in 2022 by Nottoway artist Denise Walters
The Brafferton School, 2022
Denise Walters (Nottoway)
Story quilt

On loan from the artist

Recent scholarship offers new insights and interpretations about the Brafferton Indian School’s history and legacy. Interrogating the extant documents from the era demonstrates the role of both the College and its Indian school in a wider narrative about the trans-Atlantic colonial encounter. Remembering includes responses from several Native artists from tribes that sent students to the Brafferton Indian School in the eighteenth century.


Curator: Danielle Moretti-Langholtz, Ph.D., Thomasina E. Jordan Director of the American Indian Resource Center; Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology; Curator of Native American Art, Muscarelle Museum of Art

Design: Alex Wheeler '23, SCRC Graphic Design Student Assistant; and Jennie Davy, Exhibits and Artifacts Curator; with assistance from Brendan Reed, Design & Interface Development, Muscarelle Museum of Art

Fabrication and Installation Assistance: Laura Fogarty, Registrar, Muscarelle Museum of Art; Kevin Gilliam, Facilities and Exhibitions Manager; Muscarelle Museum of Art; Shannon Baker, MA Student in History and Special Collections Graduate Apprentice; Ute Schechter, Warren E. Burger Archivist