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William Addison Caldwell Collection

Identifier: Ms-1988-048

Scope and Content

Contained in the Wiliam Addison Caldwell Collection is a letter written by Caldwell to his niece, Katherine Caldwell of East Radford, Virginia. Writing from Tarrymore Hotel in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, "Add" briefly relays general personal news of the hotel and his new job there, the weather, and his health. The letter is accompanied by its envelope. The collection also contains an 1875 VAMC grade report for Caldwell, with its accompanying envelope. Also included is a ca. 1900 photo (original and reprint) of Caldwell with his family; Caldwell's 1910 obituary; and a Bible presented to Caldwell by Mrs. William c. McKemey and dated at VAMC, November 2, 1878.


  • 1872 - 1910


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

William Addison "Add" Caldwell, son of George C. and Lorena Givens Caldwell, was born in Craig County, Virginia on January 10, 1856. In October 1872, Caldwell and his brother Milton ("Mic"), walked from their home on Craig County's Sinking Creek to enroll at the new Virginia Agricultural & Mechanical College (VAMC; now Virginia Tech). Addison Caldwell became the first student to enroll at the school. He was among the second graduating class in 1876.

By 1880, Caldwell had returned to his parents' home and was teaching school. 1887 found him living in Roanoke, Virginia, and working in the general offices of the Norfolk & Western Railroad Company. Around 1898, Caldwell moved to Wilmington, North Carolina; he worked there for several large wholesale firms (the Stove Company; W. B. Cooper; Blair & Haly; and C. C. Covington). While recovering from brain surgery in 1910, and on his doctor's advice, Caldwell took a summertime position as clerk at Tarrymore Hotel, Wrightsville Beach, to be closer to the salt air. Shortly after taking the job, Caldwell fainted, sustained a head injury, and died on June 29, 1910. He was buried in Caldwell Cemetery, Radford, Virginia.

Source: "William Addison Caldwell: First Student to Register", Virginia Tech History website,, accessed March 22, 2021.


0.2 Cubic Feet (1 box)


Papers associated with William Addison "Add" Caldwell (1856-1910) of Craig County, Virginia, first student enrolled at Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (VAMC, later Virginia Tech). Includes a letter written by Caldwell in 1910; his 1875 VAMC report card; a Caldwell family photo portrait; Caldwell's obituary; and a Bible given to Caldwell by Mrs. William C. McKemey.


The collection is arranged by material type.

Source of Acquisition

Portions of the William Addison Caldwell Collection were acquired by Special Collections and University Archives prior to 1992. Additions were donated in 1992 and 1993.

Existence and Location of Copies

Some of this collection has been digitized and is available online.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the William Addison Caldwell Papers by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (


Prior to processing, this collection had been known as the William Addison Caldwell Papers. An examination of the contents and their origins suggested that the William Addison Caldwell Collection would be a more accurate name.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the William Addison Caldwell Collection commenced and was completed in December 2021.

William Addison Caldwell Collection
John M. Jackson, Archivist
2021 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

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