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Richard Holmes Powell Papers

Overview

Abstract

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Biographical Materials and Board of Trustees Minutes

Correspondence

Correspondence

Special Topics

Articles and Speeches

Babylonian Clay Tablets

Correspondence (Duplicates)

Special Topics (Duplicates)

Articles and Speeches (Duplicates)

Academic Regalia



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Richard Holmes Powell Papers, 1895-1933 | Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections

By Deborah S. Davis and Amy R. King

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Collection Overview

Title: Richard Holmes Powell Papers, 1895-1933Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

ID: UA/2/1/1

Primary Creator: Powell, Richard Holmes (1875-1947)

Extent: 10.0 Boxes

Subjects: Alfred Powell, Annie Powell Hopper, Arthur Powell, Ashley Hall, B.D. Purcell, Babylonian Clay Tablets, Banks, Edgar James, 1866-1945, Board of Trustees, Agricultural, Industrial, and Normal College of South GA, Byron Bower, Charles Snelling, Commencement Addresses, Converse Hall, Edith Patterson, Erle Cocke, Hughes Spalding, J.F. Wood, Lucian Lamar Knight, May Day Festival, Morton Turner, Old English Christmas Festival, Powell, Betsy, Rev. Richard W. Wallace, T.B. McDowell, Training School South Georgia State Normal College (SGSNC), University Sytem of Georgia Board of Regents, West Hall

Languages: English

Abstract

Dr. Richard Holmes Powell was the first president of South Georgia State Normal College.  He was elected in 1911 by the Board of Trustees, and served for 22 years (1911-1933).  Dr. Powell was born in Blakely, Georgia, in 1875.  He received an A.B. from Mercer University in 1894, an M.A. from the University of Colorado in 1898, and an honorary LL.D. from the University of Georgia in 1924.  He married Freida Berens in 1907, and they had three sons: Alfred, David and Richard; and one daughter, Elizabeth (Betsy).

Prior to his appointment at SGSNC, Powell held several distinguished positions in his career as an educator/administrator.  He was the principal of the Tennille (Ga.) Institute (1984-96); the head of the English department at the  New Mexico Normal School in Las Vegas, N.M. (1898-1903); and associate professor of English and history at the Colorado State Normal School in Greeley, Colo. (1903-06).  Powell returned to Georgia in 1906, and was the head of the English department at the Georgia Normal and Industrial College in Milledgeville (1906-10).  He later became the State Supervisor for Rural Education (1910-11), then accepted the post as president of SGSNC.

Powell was integral to the establishment and development of SGSNC.  He was on the committee that selected the Spanish-style architecture, and oversaw the construction of the first buildings on campus, including West Hall, Converse Hall, and Ashley Hall.  He possessed a keen sense of duty regarding the educations of the young ladies at the school, and sought nothing but the best for them, including teachers and amenities.

The school opened its doors to students in 1913.  During Powell's tenure, it evolved from a high school and junior college to one offering a four-year, bachelor's degree program. This is remarkable, considering the country was struggling with a lagging post-WWI economy that drifted into the Great Depression.  Money was always a struggle, yet under Powell's direction, the school weathered the rough spots and continued to grow.  In 1922, the school's name was changed to Georgia State Womans College at Valdosta by a legislative act, and a four-year degree program was offered.  The last high school class graduated in 1927, and requirements for faculty were strengthened-- new faculty hires had to have a master's degree.  GSWC became a fully-accredited liberal arts and teachers' college in 1931.

Many student activities and traditions were established during Powell's presidency, including a Medieval Christmas Festival and May Day Festival.  GSWC publications include the Pine Branch, established in 1917; Campus Glimpses, started in 1920; and the Pine Cone, the school yearbook, began in 1924.

The newly-formed Regents of the University System of Georgia reassigned Powell in 1933 as president of the Co-ordinate College in Athens.  His departure greatly upset the College and Valdosta communities.  He retired in Athens in 1946, and was killed in an automobile accident there on June 2, 1947.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The papers in this collection are of particular interest and importance.  They are the earliest records of establishing a college in Southwest Georgia, and clearly indicate the city of Valdosta's and Lowndes County's desire to have an institute of higher learning.  Powell took his job as the first president of the College very seriously, and this is reflected in his writings and correspondence.  His papers outline the struggles of literally starting a school from the ground up, and deal with issues such as construction, finances, faculty and students. The bulk of the collection is comprised of correspondence with various education officials, such as the school's Board of Trustees, the chancellor of the University System of Georgia, and, in later years, members of the Board of Regents.  Part of this collection are two bound volumes of meeting minutes of the Board of Trustees, which include Powell's annual report on the state of the College from 1911 to 1931.  These reports provide an excellent yearly analysis of the trials and tribulations involved with managing all aspects of a developing school.  Some of Powell's additional writings include the history of some of the College's early traditions, such as the May Day and Christmas festivals.  He was also a sought-after speaker, and many of his speeches, both to GSWC students and statewide civic associations, are part of this collection.  These addresses reveal his commitment to education, and how strongly important he felt it was.  Powell was also a very scholarly man, and we are fortunate to have some of the papers he submitted as part of his undergraduate and graduate work.  Thanks to Powell's daughter, Betsy, the collection includes a variety of photographs, spanning the years 1913-1940.  These include snapshots of life at the College as well as some family pictures.  Lastly, true prizes of the collection are ten Babylonian clay tablets, of which eight are in excellent condition.  During his stint as a Red Cross volunteer during World War I, Powell acquired the tablets from Edgar J. Banks, also known as "the original Indiana Jones." Each tablet is accompanied by a translation of the cuneiform writing. Powell brought the tablets back to Valdosta for the College students' benefit.  The tablets have been scanned and are on online exhibit with their translations and history.  Three boxes of duplicates of most of Powell's original papers are part of the collection.  Researchers will be given a duplicate to review when available, rather than an original document.  This is an effort to preserve the historical first documents of the College.  The final box contains the hood of Dr. Powell's academic regalia.

Biographical Note

Dr. Richard Holmes Powell was the first president of South Georgia State Normal College.  He was elected in 1911 by the Board of Trustees, and served for 22 years (1911-1933).  Dr. Powell was born in Blakely, Georgia, in 1875.  He received an A.B. from Mercer University in 1894, an M.A. from the University of Colorado in 1898, and an honorary LL.D. from the University of Georgia in 1924.  He married Freida Berens in 1907, and they had three sons: Alfred, David and Richard; and one daughter, Elizabeth (Betsy).

Prior to his appointment at SGSNC, Powell held several distinguished positions in his career as an educator/administrator.  He was the principal of the Tennille (Ga.) Institute (1984-96); the head of the English department at the  New Mexico Normal School in Las Vegas, N.M. (1898-1903); and associate professor of English and history at the Colorado State Normal School in Greeley, Colo. (1903-06).  Powell returned to Georgia in 1906, and was the head of the English department at the Georgia Normal and Industrial College in Milledgeville (1906-10).  He later became the State Supervisor for Rural Education (1910-11), then accepted the post as president of SGSNC.

Powell was integral to the establishment and development of SGSNC.  He was on the committee that selected the Spanish-style architecture, and oversaw the construction of the first buildings on campus, including West Hall, Converse Hall, and Ashley Hall.  He possessed a keen sense of duty regarding the educations of the young ladies at the school, and sought nothing but the best for them, including teachers and amenities.

The school opened its doors to students in 1913.  During Powell's tenure, it evolved from a high school and junior college to one offering a four-year, bachelor's degree program. This is remarkable, considering the country was struggling with a lagging post-WWI economy that drifted into the Great Depression.  Money was always a struggle, yet under Powell's direction, the school weathered the rough spots and continued to grow.  In 1922, the school's name was changed to Georgia State Womans College at Valdosta by a legislative act, and a four-year degree program was offered.  The last high school class graduated in 1927, and requirements for faculty were strengthened-- new faculty hires had to have a master's degree.  GSWC became a fully-accredited liberal arts and teachers' college in 1931.

Many student activities and traditions were established during Powell's presidency, including a Medieval Christmas Festival and May Day Festival.  GSWC publications include the Pine Branch, established in 1917; Campus Glimpses, started in 1920; and the Pine Cone, the school yearbook, began in 1924.

The newly-formed Regents of the University System of Georgia reassigned Powell in 1933 as president of the Co-ordinate College in Athens.  His departure greatly upset the College and Valdosta communities.  He retired in Athens in 1946, and was killed in an automobile accident there on June 2, 1947.

Subject/Index Terms

Alfred Powell
Annie Powell Hopper
Arthur Powell
Ashley Hall
B.D. Purcell
Babylonian Clay Tablets
Banks, Edgar James, 1866-1945
Board of Trustees, Agricultural, Industrial, and Normal College of South GA
Byron Bower
Charles Snelling
Commencement Addresses
Converse Hall
Edith Patterson
Erle Cocke
Hughes Spalding
J.F. Wood
Lucian Lamar Knight
May Day Festival
Morton Turner
Old English Christmas Festival
Powell, Betsy
Rev. Richard W. Wallace
T.B. McDowell
Training School South Georgia State Normal College (SGSNC)
University Sytem of Georgia Board of Regents
West Hall

Administrative Information

Repository: Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections

Processing Information: Partial support for this project came from the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board, The Georgia Archives, Office of the Secretary of State.  Amy R. King of the VSU MLIS program and Deborah S. Davis, completed March 2003. Thank you to Steven Brown and the University Archives of the University of Georgia for extra information on President Powell in Athens.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Box:

[Box 1: Biographical Materials and Board of Trustees Minutes],
[Box 2: Correspondence, 1912-1933],
[Box 3: Correspondence, 1933],
[Box 4: Special Topics],
[Box 5: Articles and Speeches],
[Box 6: Babylonian Clay Tablets],
[Box 7: Correspondence (Duplicates), 1912-1933],
[Box 8: Special Topics (Duplicates)],
[Box 9: Articles and Speeches (Duplicates)],
[Box 10: Academic Regalia],
[All]

Box 1: Biographical Materials and Board of Trustees MinutesAdd to your cart.
5 Folders and Two Bound Volumes
Folder 1: Powell Papers-Biographical Material dtd. 1906-1913, 1906-1913Add to your cart.
Copies of: Powell's curriculum vitae Powell's Red Cross Service Certificate circa 1918 letter dated April 6 1923 to Powell from the 'wash women of the College' concerning pay and work conditions' Atlanta Constitution magazine section profiling Powell's woodworking hobby dated Dec. 29 1940 and letter from Betsy Powell to Sally O'Neal former VSU archivist.
Folder 2: Powell Papers-Photographs 1913-1940, 1913-1940Add to your cart.
Titles inscribed on backs include 'Miss Gallagher' 'Coke picture in the 'teens' 'One Big Family' 'Dr. Powell with the Seniors 1914-15' 'Ann Majette Grant.' used to be Powell's secretary  Other photos include 'Dr. Powell and Betsy in the fall of 1918 Red Cross Uniform' 'Powell Family Photo circa 1940' 'Betsy as wooden doll Christmas Festival circa 1930' 'Betsey and unidentified student circa 1920'
Folder 3: Powell Papers-Duplicate Board of Trustees Reports, 1918-1922Add to your cart.
Duplicate copies of reports to the Board of Trustees originals are bound in the Trustees Minutes books.
Folder 4: Powell Papers-Board of Trustees Members, 1913, 1913Add to your cart.
List of Board of Trustees members from 1913
Folder 5: Powell Papers-MiscellaneousAdd to your cart.
unidentifiable fragments of papers reports etc.
Binder 1: Powell Papers-Board of Trustees Minutes & Reports Vol. 1 1911-1927, 1911-1927Add to your cart.
President's Annual Report to Board of Trustees meeting minutes
Binder 2: Powell Papers-Board of Trustees Minutes & Reports Vol. 2 1927-31, 1927-31Add to your cart.
President's Annual Report to Board of Trustees meeting minutes
Digital Copy: http://vtext.valdosta.edu:8080/xmlui/handle/10428/1295

Browse by Box:

[Box 1: Biographical Materials and Board of Trustees Minutes],
[Box 2: Correspondence, 1912-1933],
[Box 3: Correspondence, 1933],
[Box 4: Special Topics],
[Box 5: Articles and Speeches],
[Box 6: Babylonian Clay Tablets],
[Box 7: Correspondence (Duplicates), 1912-1933],
[Box 8: Special Topics (Duplicates)],
[Box 9: Articles and Speeches (Duplicates)],
[Box 10: Academic Regalia],
[All]


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