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President Ralph Noble Tirey Records

Identifier: uar1.2.5

Scope and Contents

The Ralph Noble Tirey Collection was given to the University Archives by the Office of the President and Tirey's daughter, with no restrictions. The collection covers the years 1929-1963 with most of the material covering the years of Tirey's presidency 1934-1953. The material that was donated can only be considered a part of a collection because there is only three and a half feet of material from a man who was president for nineteen years. Therefore a great deal of material has been lost. Because of this, what has remained provides only a glimpse into the Tirey presidency and nothing more than that. An example of this lack of documentation concerns the World War II period and the V-12 program that was set up on campus. There is only a handful of papers concerning this program which seems odd when one realizes that it was this program that kept the college going during the war. However, it is also quite ironic that the best documented period is that of the war. Also, one notices that the least documented period is that of the post-war time period. This would date from 1946-1953 and Tirey's retirement. The collection consists of correspondence, which constitutes a large portion of the collection, reports, programs, constitutions, an autobiography, a biography, and other such items. Almost all of the material, as stated above, revolve around Tirey's presidency and even then during the years of the Second World War. Series Description Biographical Mainly deals with Tirey's autobiography The Golden Globe, and Luther S. Ferguson's biography Ralph N. Tirey, A Great Teacher, A Great American The other materials are either brief outlines of Tirey's life, for example the card he filled out for Who's Who, or any information that might shed some light on Tirey and his views. Publishers Most of the material in this series revolve around the Johnson Publishing Company. The memorandum of agreement and royalty statements involve the Johnson Publishing Company. Personal This deals with Tirey's personal life outside of the biographical series. The information is of no great significance with the largest file pertaining to recommendations given by Tirey. Social Organizations This series contains correspondence with organizations that Tirey belonged to. Most of the material dates to the pre-World War II time of his presidency. There is no one organization that stands out in this series. Speeches/Lectures This deals with speeches given by Tirey during his presidency. The only exception being his inaugural address in 1929 as president of the State Teachers Association. This series covers most of Tirey's presidency at Indiana State Teachers College, yet this period is covered sparsely. Writings This deals not so much with publications or articles, but with greetings, especially Christmas greetings. What makes this series important in understanding trying to understand Tirey is that it contains the most amount of material from the retirement period. Therefore one can follow Tirey's state of mind during the last years of his life. Congratulations/Inductions This series basically covers two events: the inauguration of Tirey is president of Indiana State Teachers College, and his receiving the degree of Doctor of Laws from Indiana University in 1945. Ralph N. Tirey Concert/Dinner This covers the time of 1953 and Tirey's retirement. It was decided by the college to have a retirement concert and later a dinner in honor of Tirey. Therefore this series covers both events; this is done in that it is correspondence concerning whether the invited guest will show for the concert and later the dinner. Compliments/Commendation/Complaints This series covers the entire Tirey regime. The largest amount of the information, as one can easily see from the inventory, is the compliments. However, this series does not pertain to Tirey, but instead to the college and whether the visitor like the campus and accompanying tour or not. General Correspondence This series by far is the largest in the whole collection. This is due to the fact that the correspondence was not separated between that pertaining to only Tirey, and that which might have included the college. The reason for this is that it is impossible to sometimes differentiate between the two, and a continuity would have probably been broken up. Thus one could not really understand a certain letter if it referred to a previous one. Thus the correspondence was put together in one series. Another thing about this series concerns certain people who's material was separated from the general alphabetical file, example being that of Mary Black and her correspondence being separate from the general B file. The reason for this is that she co-authored several books with Tirey and thus her correspondence is more important then the others in the B file. Most of the ones separated are in the same category as Mary Black in that either there seemed to be a great deal of correspondence from these people, or that they had done something to make them stand out from the other people in there file. University Correspondence This series was separated from the general correspondence series because this deals with universities/colleges. This series pertains to the Tirey presidency period. World War II This series deals with, of course, World War II, basically the years 1942-1945. While this series does not contain the material to provide an in depth look of how the war influenced the college and its day to day operation, it does allow one to catch a glimpse of what the college attempted to do during the war, and what programs went on during this time. But, as mentioned before, some of the key programs, mainly the V-12 program, is briefly dealt with and does not give a person the information needed to provide a detailed view of this program. Budget This series concerns the college budget with detailed records for the years 1941 (from October on) to 1943. During this time, every month's budget account was kept. Thus one can follow how the university reacted to World War II in its budget accounts. It is this series, along with the Placement reports of the late thirties that provide the most detailed record of the college during the Tirey regime. Salary This series covers the post-war period, 1946 to 1953. Thus one can see what the salary of the administration and faculty was during the twilight of Tirey's presidency. Buildings This series deals with the buildings associated with the college, or plans by the college to acquire land in order to build. This series also deals with Tirey's campus improvement plan, which has been one of many. However, it is the Buildings Erected, 1933-1953 file that allows one to get an idea on what was built during Tirey's time and how much the college changed during this time. Government This series revolves around the government, mainly the state, and its departments. This also deals with the presidential years of 1934-1953. College Organizations This series deals with organizations that Indiana State Teachers College belong to. The most noted of these being the American Association of Teachers College, which became in 1947 the American Association for Teacher Education. Over half of the material available in this series comes from these two groups. It should also be noted that these two groups accredited schools and the accreditation of I.S.T.C. is dealt with in these groups. Offices/Departments This series revolves around the offices and departments located on the campus during Tirey's presidency. The best documented office/department include the Extension Division for the years 1939-1947, the Health Services Office and their reports for the years 1941-1946, and the Placement Office for the years 1934-1941. But once past these departments, the documentation is rather sparse. Faculty This series deals only with the faculty. It is not a well documented series and only covers a hodge-podge of topics. These include application letters, promotion letters, approval letters, and so on. Special Days and Events This series basically covers Honor Day, along with a few other events. Honor Day is the best documented group among the series with the years 1934-1937, 1942-1947, 1949, being covered. This, compared to homecoming where only the 1949 one is documented, and very briefly. Campus Organizations This series revolves around organizations, most of the fraternities, that either wanted to organize or had already done so on campus. However, this like all the other series is not well documented. Constitution This series deals with the constitution of the Student Government Association, Student Union Advisory Board, and Tirey Memorial Union Board. Boards/Committees This series deals with meetings, board and faculty, and committees. The best documented group of this series is the faculty meetings for the years 1941-1946. However, this is misleading in that not every meeting is documented and those that are documented basically state that a meeting took place on this date. Hardly ever is there any mention of what was discussed in the meeting. Miscellaneous This series deals with those groups that fell through the cracks. They constitute the loose ends of the collection with no true place for these particular groups to be located.


  • Created: 1929-1963


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open for research use with advance notice to the archivist.

Biographical or Historical Information

Ralph Noble Tirey entered the world on November 10, 1882, in Mitchell, Indiana. He was the sixth child, fourth son, of William Henry and Nancy Jane (Ganges) Tirey. The fifth president of Indiana State Teachers College began his schooling in the 1890s at Southern Indiana Normal and Business Institute of Mitchell. After graduating, Tirey took a job as a school teacher in a one room schoolhouse in Lawrence County. He remained for one year. In 1901, Tirey moved up and on to Springville where he became the principle for the school. After three years, he moved on to Oolithic and took the job, once again, as the principal of their school, where he would stay for two more years, 1906 to be precise. In 1906, Tirey once again climbed the ladder of school administration when he returned to Lawrence County to become the county superintendent. During his tenure, Tirey married the first of three wives, Io Short. After five years as the superintendent of the Lawrence County schools, Tirey moved on to become the superintendent at Vevay. He would remain here for the next seven years. However, before he began his job as superintendent, Tirey attended a course at Harvard on school administration, which at the time was an extremely wise choice. It would be during his stay at Vevay that Tirey was to begin receiving state wide attention, but not in education. When the United States entered the First World War, Tirey was appointed the Chairman of the Indiana Council of Defense, which he held throughout the war. With the end of the war in 1918, Tirey decided to move on and became the superintendent of the Washington, Indiana, schools. He would remain for four years and in 1922, Tirey moved to Bloomington and became not only the superintendent of the Bloomington schools, but also a member of the staff in the Indiana University School of Education. It would be during his time at Bloomington that Tirey made a name for himself in the field of education. In 1927 Tirey received the A.B. and M.A. degrees in education and in 1929, he was voted president of the Indiana State Teachers' Association. Also, while at Bloomington, he remarried. Tirey's first wife died in 1920, but in 1922 he married Inez Bonham, who died nineteen years later in 1941. During his tenure at Bloomington, Tirey became an authority on surveys and supervised study. In 1933, at the age of fifty-one, Ralph Noble Tirey became the fifth president of Indiana State Teachers College when he was appointed over forty people, by the board and Governor McNutt. The presidency would be Tirey's life for the next nineteen years when he retired in 1953. During his term as president, Tirey instituted many different changes in the appearance of the college. In 1935 the Laboratory School was completed and Parson's Hall in 1938. And on March 15, 1940, the Student Union Building and the Fine Arts and Commerce Buildings were dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt. The construction of this, along with the closing of Mulberry and Eagle Streets was accomplished before the outbreak of the Second World War. It was also during this time, 1933-1940, that Tirey published most of his educational books. They included Playfellows and New Friends in 1935, New Paths and Trails Beyond in 1934, and Life Use Speller in 1937, along with numerous articles in educational journals. He also became active in social and educational organizations at this time. Tirey was a life member of the National Education Association, and the American Association of School Administrators, a president of the Indiana Schoolmasters Club (1939), Vice-president of Hoosier Salon, Rotarian, a Mason, Phi Delta Kappa, and others. However, with the outbreak of the Second World War, the college under went some changes, enrollment decreased along with professors leaving, these being the main problem. But with the establishment of the Navy V-12 program, the college survived the war and was ready for the postwar boom of students. Yet while the college survived the war, the war period had brought sadness to the Tirey family. First, 1941, Tirey's second wife died, and the following year, his only son was killed in a train crash in England. The end of the war brought renewed growth to the campus and to Tirey. He would marry again for the third and last time to a music teacher, Ruth B. Hill in 1946. It would also be during this time that a peace had set in upon the life of Ralph N. Tirey. He became more religious, this is not to say that he already was not religious for in 1933 he wrote an article in the New York Times that dealt with teaching religion in the classroom. Tirey was to remain at the college until 1953 when he retired. After his retirement, Tirey began to write his autobiography, titled The Golden Globe, and was also somewhat active in the college, but as the years went by, he became less and less a part of the campus until he died in 1964.

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Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

Cunningham Memorial Library
510 N. 6 1/2 Street
Terre Haute 47809- US