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President William Wood Parsons Records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: uar1.2.3
The Papers of William Wood Parsons constitute some of the oldest surviving records of Indiana State University and comprise a diverse collection accrued during his tenure as president of Indiana State Normal School. The majority of the institutional records date from 1888‐1889. Most of the school’s records predating this year were destroyed by a fire which devastated the institution in April of 1888. In total, the collection spans the years 1880‐1921 and includes correspondence, student records, fiscal records, personal papers, and photographs. Much has been lost with time and the collection is not a complete record of the Parsons years. Nevertheless, the materials which have survived offer a remarkable insight into the life of the man and the institution. President Parsons was an influential member of the academic community in Indiana and surrounding states. This is demonstrated by his correspondence with officials of school districts state‐wide, other institutions of higher learning, and various education oriented bodies. The collection is also important in showing the multi‐faceted role of a college president at this time. Often, the office secretary, Miss Helen L. Gilbert, handled routine matters, but the range of issues and problems demanding personal attention was staggering. The wide spectrum of those duties is reflected in the papers, which range from correspondence with students, government officials, and student vaccinations, to those concerning the creation of a new Eastern Division of the Normal School in Muncie, Indiana.

Dates

  • Created: 1880-1925

Creator

Extent

31.50 Linear Feet

1.00 boxes

1.00 boxes

1.00 boxes

1.00 boxes

1.00 boxes

1.00 boxes

1.00 boxes

1.00 boxes

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3.00 Linear Feet

3.00 Linear Feet

3.00 Linear Feet

3.00 Linear Feet

1.00 boxes

1.00 boxes

Biographical or Historical Information

Indiana State Normal School opened on January 6, 1870. Its original mission was to educate young men and women to teach in the common schools of Indiana. In time the institution emerged as a recognized leader in the movement to establish doctrines of “scientific pedagogy” in teacher education. A man who played a central role in this institutional development was William Wood Parsons. After graduating in its first class and later joining the faculty, he served the school as its third president from 1885 to 1921. His dedication to the causes of education and Indiana State Normal served to promote teacher education throughout the Midwest. For a period of nearly fifty years, the life of the man and the institution were one and the same. Through the Parsons Collection one may glimpse faculty and student personalities of the institution, as well as acquire a feel for the administrative, fiscal and political issues of higher education in Indiana. These issues of education deal not only with those concerning Indiana State Normal School, but with the formation of statewide educational policy and programs. As Indiana State Normal School grew into a nationally respected institution of higher education, its influence was felt through the work of its graduates who taught and administered in the public schools of Indiana and surrounding states. Much of the correspondence deals with Parson’s efforts to maintain contact with the Indiana public school districts and educators in those districts. The Papers of William Wood Parsons offer a unique perspective on the formative years of public education in Indiana, years during which the Indianan State Normal School grew to meet the demands of training educators and administrators for this system.

Note written by

Arrangement Note

General Correspondence – Incoming Correspondence This series is comprised of correspondence received by Parsons during his tenure as president of Indiana State Normal School. The correspondence covers a wide range of subject matter. As such it reveals the many different areas (academic, business, social) that required a college president’s attention. The files are arranged alphabetically and cover the years 1885‐1921. Personal and Professional Materials The materials in this area are drawn from those items of personal or professional interest retained by President Parsons. These include his employment contracts, some of his own writings, and students’ compositions. On a more personal level, the series contains memorabilia collected from various functions attended by Parsons and a handwritten copy of a work by Herbert Spencer. Also included are pamphlets printed in honor of Parsons’ twenty‐fifth anniversary as president of Indiana State Normal. Academic and Student Affairs The series is divided into three sub‐series. One series deals with academic and student life and includes student discipline and vaccination reports, files covering educational associations, course descriptions, and Board of Visitors Reports. Also of interest are files pertaining to the creation and operation of the Eastern Division of the Indiana State Normal School at Muncie. The second sub‐series is made up of President Parsons’ correspondence with officials of other colleges and universities. Parsons was influential in educational sectors and a reading of these offers insight into the inter‐institutional issues of the period. The files are arranged alphabetically by institution. Indiana State Normal School’s association with the Indiana Department of Public Instruction was a vital one, and files pertaining to this government office comprise the third section of this series. The files are arranged alphabetically by the names of the superintendents and cover the years 1891 to 1921. Business and Fiscal Affairs The materials in this series deal with the business of operating the Normal School and include treasurer’s fiscal, and payroll reports. These are important in showing the financial administration of the institution. A separate sub‐series is comprised of correspondence from book dealers. Such companies were important in providing materials for the school and its library and a reading of the files will provide insight into costs and business practices of the day. Book dealer files are arranged alphabetically by name of company. Faculty Personnel Files and Applications This series contains files pertaining to the faculty and staff of the Indiana State Normal School. In addition, there are files composed of unsuccessful applications and vitae of persons seeking employment with the Normal School (some with accompanying photographs). The faculty files contain copies of contracts, faculty correspondence to President Parsons, and materials pertaining to individual faculty. They are arranged alphabetically by faculty name and not departmental affiliation. Board of Trustees The materials of this series contain records pertaining to the Board of Trustees of the Indiana State Normal School. There are copies of some of the Board’s annual reports for the years 1880 to 1914. The reports and the files on bids and contracts are valuable in showing the state of the institution and its inner workings. Also included are correspondence files from individual board members which provide valuable insight into issues pertaining to institutional administration. Property and Building Construction Indiana State Normal experienced a period of physical expansion under President Parsons’ leadership. This series covers the acquisition of properties and construction of new buildings. Sub‐series deal with major construction projects; each containing files documenting the specifications, bids and contracts associated with each structure. As such, they provide a record of costs, materials, and techniques involved in the construction of the period. World War I Indiana State Normal School and its president were actively involved in the war effort. This series reflects that involvement. The school attempted to maintain contact with all students and faculty in the military service of their country. The result was a “Students in Service File” arranged by name of each student. Separate files pertaining to President Parsons, the faculty, obituaries, and photographs are included. Letterpress Volumes – Outgoing Correspondence Fifty‐four letterpress volumes accompany the Parsons Collection. They constitute the outgoing correspondence from his tenure as president of the Normal School, covering the years 1900 to 1921, and detail the inner workings and business aspects of the school. These volumes are arranged chronologically and most contain a name index to the correspondence. In addition, twelve letterpress volumes of outgoing correspondence for the Indiana State Normal School Board of Trustees are included with this series. They are arranged chronologically and include the years 1894 to 1917.

Existence and Location of Originals

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Related Materials

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Processing Information

The collection has been processed with an eye toward aiding researchers delving into questions of institutional history, administrative policy, educational policy, student development and placement, and the influence of Indiana State Normal School as an institution of higher learning in Indiana and regional. Although it does not represent all the papers that passed through President Parsons Office, it is extensive enough to be a valuable resource. The original order of these materials was destroyed long ago and subsequent caretakers of the records demonstrated no concern for such archival principles as provenance or “respect de fonds”. The processors of the collection could only reconstruct files and create a series structure which would aid researchers with a minimum of inconvenience. The General Correspondence Series and the Letterpress Volumes are a related correspondence mechanism. When combined as a research tool these comprise the entire correspondence flow of the office. It was determined that the General Correspondence Series would be arranged alphabetically in order to facilitate access by author or individual. These are arranged chronologically, but contain an alphabetical name index. Through this series one may access the collection by date, and thus access the General Correspondence Series by name and date. Series were created to reflect various interests and functions of the Office of the President. Materials were arranged to focus upon issues pertaining to students, faculty, business affairs, and correspondence with leaders of other institutions, the Board of Trustees, and the Indiana Department of Public Instruction. A separate series was created to document building construction and campus development. The only series which survived in its original order is the collection of materials pertaining to activities of the Normal School during World War I.
Title
Archon Finding Aid Title
Author
Timothy R. Crumrin
Date
11/30/1987
Description rules
other_unmapped
Language of description
und

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

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