Letters to parents, 1936 - 1945
Scope and Content
This collection contains the papers of Louis O'Shaughnessy, a long-time professor of mathematics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; his wife Ida Surface O'Shaughnessy; their daughter Betty O'Shaughnessy Bock, a VPI mathematics instructor; and the Surface family, parents and siblings of Ida Surface O'Shaughnessy. The collection includes correspondence, schoolwork, diaries, photographs, and printed materials.
Series I: Louis and Ida Surface O'Shaughnessy Papers, 1886-1965. This collection contains both personal and professional papers of Louis O'Shaughnessy and personal and financial papers of Ida Surface O'Shaughnessy. Included in Louis O'Shaughnessy's papers are a few pieces of personal correspondence, written to various family members and relating personal news. Among these are two postcards, both postmarked in 1906: one shows children sledding down a street in Christiansburg, Virginia; the other is an illustrated postcard listing the wins and losses of the VPI football team that year. Also among O'Shaughnessy's personal papers are examples from his years as a student, including his VPI diplomas, schoolwork, graded exams, and grade reports, as well as an account book he maintained while a student at VPI. The notepad provides an account of every expenditure made by O'Shaughnessy during his sophomore, junior, and senior years. The series also includes a file of material on the Coming Men of America, a junior secret society to which O'Shaughnessy belonged. Among the few materials in the series relating to O'Shaughnessy's professional career is a folder of VPI announcements and forms, including--among other items--a 1943 University Club financial statement, a circular letter sent to freshmen regarding the honor system, and two registers of students (1932 and 1945) that include the religious affiliation of each.
From Ida Surface O'Shaughnessy, the series includes several pieces of correspondence, including a number of get-well cards received. The series also contains some of Ida O'Shaughnessy's personal financial records from the years following her husband's death.
Also included are collections of invoices and receipts, advertising ephemera, and printed material. Among the latter are two postcards relating to the 1905 VPI football team, a postcard from Hemlock Haven (Marion, Virginia); a 1957 holiday program from De Jarnette State Sanatorium (Staunton, Virginia), and a flyer for an appearance by psychic Madam Orva at Roanoke Theatre
Series II: Betty O'Shaughnessy Bock Papers, 1887-1958. This series contains both personal and professional papers of Betty O'Shaughnessy Bock, who served as an instructor of mathematics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in the 1940s. The series includes a large collection of Bock's letters to her parents. A frequent correspondent, she writes chatty letters of her social activities, home life, and travel. The majority of the letters are written from the Bocks' home in Annapolis, Maryland, during the 1940s and 1950s. The series also contains three diaries, written while Betty O'Shaughnessy Bock was a student at Blacksburg High School. The diary entries revolve almost entirely around the many boys that she liked and little else. Also among her personal papers is a collection of ephemera including mementos from VPI dances, the text of a speech that O'Shaughnessy delivered in 1936 to urge the inclusion of women students in the VPI annual, and printed materials. A large portion of the series is devoted to Betty Bock's schoolwork, particularly at VPI, and includes class notes, essays, and exams. From Bock's years as a mathematics instructor at VPI, the series includes her course plans, exam questions, a selection of students' graded exam books, and grade reports.
Series III: Surface Family Papers, 1857-1933. This series includes papers of the parents of Ida Surface O'Shaughnessy. From F. D. Surface, father of Ida, the collection includes two notebooks, devoted almost entirely to Bible study notes. The series includes two letters written by Betty Surface (one co-written with her husband), touching on local news from Blacksburg, one mentioning the campus death of Stockton Heth Jr. at the hands of Charles Vawter. Accompanying these is a letter from Vawter's father, asking for Betty Surface's prayers for his son. Included also in this series are papers of Fanny and George Thomas Surface, siblings of Ida Surface O'Shaughnessy. Among these are a number of letters from George Surface. Several of these consist only of fragments, as they were seemingly retained only as scrap paper that F. D. Surface used for notes. The series also includes George Surface's student notebooks and the Surface family Bible, published in 1857 and purchased in Christiansburg in 1863.
Series IV: Photographs and Negatives, 1887-1950. The images in this series include both studio portraits and informal snapshots--most unidentified-- of the O'Shaughnessy and Surface families and their friends. The collection contains several images from Betty O'Shaughnessy Bock's wedding. Also within the collection are a number of photos of various buildings, including the O'Shaughnessy home at 206 Turner Street, Blacksburg (today the home of the Alpha Phi chapter of Betha Theta Pi) and Southside Community Hospital in Farmville, Virginia. Several local and regional photographic studios are represented in the collection: Twin City, Bristol; W. H. Richards, Christiansburg; Jewell's, Christiansburg; Olinger, Blacksburg.
Series V: Mementos and Personal Effects and Artifacts, n.d. This series includes a few textiles, origin unknown, though they likely belonged to Betty O'Shaughnessy Bock. Among these items are an infant's dress, and some women's dress gloves. The series also includes some cosmetics compacts and a miniature bar of soap from the Hotel Roanoke.
- 1936 - 1945
Language of Materials
The materials in the collection are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
From the Collection: 5.2 Cubic Feet (11 boxes; 2 oversize folders)
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository
Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US