|Description||Records representing the financial activities of Mason College from the mid 1870s, before the college opened, until 1901, when its functions were being administered by the newly established University of Birmingham. |
The material consists of incomplete sequences of annual accounts; a general ledger and a ledger sequence containing accounts relating to fees and expenditure; rentals for properties owned by the college; cash books; inventories of moveable property owned by the college; registers recording income from fees paid by students; and financial and other records of fund raising activities undertaken by college members. The ledger sequences and rentals cover the entire period of the college's existence, but there are gaps in the annual accounts from 1882 to 1894 and in the cash books from 1884 to 1897. The earliest surviving students register dates from 1892. The inventories are likely to date from the early 1880s, and the records of fundraising activities relate to specific appeals.
Despite these gaps, the surviving records provide a fairly comprehensive view of the financial position of Mason College during the lifetime of the institution. The rentals document the income the college received from its landed property, and the ledgers and students registers illustrate the fluctuating fortunes of the college in attracting students. The inventories provide an insight into the way an institution of this type was furnished in 1880s Birmingham; the inventory of furniture contains evidence about the layout of the rooms and the space available for each department which included rooms for the professors and other teaching staff and, in contrast, the relative lack of space dedicated to students, describing, for example, the basic furniture in the students' common room which was in the basement, near the servants' room, while it is possible to see from the inventory of apparatus what equipment was seen as necessary for science teaching in the 1880s. The student registers are a rich source of personal and demographic information about Mason College students, as well as providing evidence about the relative popularity of different subjects and the areas of growth and stagnation of the college during the 1890s.