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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 4: Special TopicsAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: Powell Papers-Canada Trip, 1895Add to your cart.
Powell's account of the Georgia Press Association's trip to Montreal and Quebec City Canada for the Early County News. Also included is a statement from Powell on being a U.S. citizen.
Folder 2: Powell Papers-Board of Trustees Correspondence, 1919-1923Add to your cart.
All correspondence with Trustee Morton Turner of Quitman.  Most are meeting notices of note are: SGSNC hosts South Ga. Senators and representatives and College girls host General Assembly.
Folder 3: Powell Papers-1931 Diary, 1931Add to your cart.
Combination financial ledger-diary. Some department expenses are listed alphabetically by dept. Entries are handwritten and legible but can be difficult to read in places.
Folder 4: Powell Papers-Probation Studies, 1932-1933Add to your cart.
For approximately one month GSWC registrar Augusta Rentz corresponded with officials at 22 southeast colleges of comparable size to GSWC regarding their academic probation policies.
Folder 5: Powell Papers-Faculty Meeting Reports, 1933Add to your cart.
Memorandums to faculty on general business. List of April 1933 degree applicants.
Folder 6: Powell Papers Catalog Revisions, 1933Add to your cart.
Correspondence regarding publishing the South Georgia Womans College annual catalog.
Folder 7: Powell Papers-Student Statements about Mr. Stokes, 1933Add to your cart.
Witness statements from students regarding an alleged affair between Amanda Barksdale-student and Mr. Stokes-Biology teacher.  See also Box 3 Folder 3 for letter to Chancellor regarding this incident.
Folder 8: Powell Papers-Training School Crisis, 1933Add to your cart.
Correspondence deals with 'hot issue' of closing the GSWC training school .  Letters of note include 2-6-33--Powell writes Snelling against closing training school thinks it would 'destroy the College.' He proposes compromises 3-31-33-Powell writes Spalding regarding the 'hysteria' in town in response to the training school closing--people think the College will close. Also J.F. Wood thinks closing the training school is a personal effort to get rid of him--he holds the Regents' decision against Powell and 3-31-33-Powell writes Cocke about the subversive activities of J.F. Wood and E. Camm Campbell who are spreading rumors about the college closing.  Several additional letters are to Regents regarding Campbell's activities. More correspondence on the 'Training School Crisis.' Powell writes Snelling 5-4-1933 about Campbell's activities snooping around starting a petition. Also of note is a letter dated 5-15-1933 in which Powell congratulates Philip Weltner who was appointed chancellor and acknowledges that Jere Pound will be taking over as president of GSWC. Other correspondence deals with the sale and disbursement of training school equipment.
Folder 9: Powell Papers-History of Christmas & May Day Festivals at GSWCAdd to your cart.
Powell's handwritten history of Christmas & May Day festivals at GSWC dtd. 1943.
Folder 10: Powell Papers-Telegram from Hopper and Alfred Powell Letter from Betsy Powell, 1924 1995Add to your cart.
Western Union telegram from Annie P. Hopper and Alfred Powell to Richard H. Powell congratulating him on honorary doctorate at University of Georgia dated June 18 1924 Betsy Powell letter dated 7-20-1995 to Dr. Shufflebarger commenting on 'Historical Sketch of SGSNC'
Folder 11: Powell Papers-Scholarship Receipts 1914-1917, 1914-1917Add to your cart.
Receipts for deposits into students' bank accounts. Most are received from Clyde Purcell who was an undergraduate and later a teacher at the College. Others were received from Powell as trustee for scholarships.  Date range is 1914-1917.
Folder 12: Powell Papers-Athens Historian, 2017Add to your cart.

Athens Historian [Volume 17, 2017]

Article of interest: "Mary Jett Franklin (1842-1928): Athens Artiste Extraordinaire" by Mary Bondurant Warren

Mary Jett Franklin painted the portrait of Dr. Powell that hangs on the 4th floor of Odum Library at Valdosta State University.


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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