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Christian Case Papers

Identifier: Ms-1996-026

Scope and Contents

This collection contains materials regarding allegations of hazing perpetrated against a Virginia Polytechnic Institute freshman named Bowly by upperclassmen J. L. Brown, William B. Christian, Julian M. Salley, and Rowland P. Eubank. Most of the materials relate to the appeal by Judge George L. Christian to have the four students reinstated following their expulsion from the school and the many charges he leveled against the college's administration. The collection includes correspondence, as well as published copies of Christian's appeal to the Virginia Assembly and the faculty's response to Christian's allegations. Also included is a report from the college's board of visitors, requesting a legislative investigation. The collection also contains the lengthy proceedings and findings of a joint legislative committee that convened in Blacksburg to investigate not only the hazing incident but all aspects of the college's administration.


  • 1905 - 1906


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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.

Historical Note

On September 24, 1905, four cadets at Virginia Polytechnic Institute were accused of having violated college rules by hazing a freshman cadet named Bowly. The four upperclassmen were caught by Lieutenant-Colonel William Mayo Brodie in the act of "bucking" Bowly in his dorm room. A faculty meeting was called immediately to level charges of hazing against the students and to question them on the matter. Shortly after the incident, one of the boys, J. L. Brown, left the college. The other three students, William B. Christian, Julian M. Salley, and Rowland P. Eubank, were found guilty by the faculty and asked to leave the campus and barracks immediately. Christian's father, Judge George L. Christian, appealed to the school's board of visitors, asking the board to persuade the faculty to reverse its decision. The board agreed to hold a hearing in December. Judge Christian presented a strong appeal, and the Virginia General Assembly appointed a joint committee of the house and senate to investigate the case.

The committee met on campus on July 23, 1906. Claiming that he had obtained new information, Judge Christian acknowledged that his son and the others had been guilty of hazing and therefore withdrew his request for an investigation of the matter. As rumors and allegations against the school had become so widespread, however, the committee had been instructed to "investigate any other matter at the college which may seem proper." The committee dropped the Christian case from its agenda but proceeded for the next six days to examine and review the university's faculty and administrative practices. In issuing its final report, the committee ultimately vindicated the college's administration.


0.2 Cubic Feet (1 box)


This collection of materials about accusations in student hazing incident at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, subsequent disciplinary actions by the university's faculty, actions taken by the board of visitors, appeal by Judge George L. Christian (father of one of the accused), and proceedings of a joint legislative committee investigating the incident and the college's faculty and administrative practices and policies.


The collection is arranged by document type, then chronologically.

Source of Acquisition

The Christian Papers were donated to Special Collections.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

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

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement and description of the Christian Case Papers commenced and was completed in February 2007. The materials had been previously housed within the McBryde Presidential Papers but were deemed to be more appropriately processed as a separate collection.

A Guide to the Christian Case Papers, 1905-1906
Katie Cox; John M. Jackson
2008 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English

Revision Statements

  • 2020-09-25: Finding aid notes updated to new department standards. juliags

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