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Records of the Office of the President, John McLaren McBryde

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-02-05

Scope and Content

This collection is primarily correspondence (1900-1907), both incoming and outgoing, dealing with pertinent subjects of McBryde's administration, including: Christian case and other hazing problems; Junior class uprising (1904); Jamestown Exposition (1907); fire of 1905; McBryde's refusal of University of Virginia presidency. There is also much routine correspondence including requests for catalogs, letters from concerned parents, and business letters. Included with the 1903 correspondence are letters concerning a typhoid epidemic.

Thirteen volumes of letter books (1900-1906) contain copies of outgoing correspondence from McBryde and other members of his administration: C.D. Taliaferro (Secretary to President, Registrar, Acting Treasurer, Superintendent of Book Department); Charles I. Wade (Treasurer, Registrar); Ellison Smyth (Dean). Volume I (14 February 1900 - 5 March 1900) includes some letters signed by McBryde as Director of Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station. Much of 1901-02 correspondence consists of requests and orders for catalogs and books to replenish the library after the Administration Building fire. Volume 7 (19 April 1901 - 23 February 1903) contains two reports from McBryde to Board of Visitors, 1901 and 1902, and a report from McBryde to Joseph W. Southall, Superintendent of Public Instruction. Volume 12 (15 July 1904 - 23 September 1905) contains twenty-eight letters from McBryde to Board of Visitors and others. Volume 13 (25 July 1904-28 September 1905) contains correspondence concerning Sweet Briar Institute and signed by McBryde as Chairman of Executive Committee, Sweet Briar Institute. Most volumes are indexed by recipients of correspondence.

The collection also includes: bibliography of McBryde's writings (1841-1923); annual reports of the president (1891, 1892/93); applications for employment of students (1900/01); bids and contracts (1900-07); correspondence of William Alwood, Professor of Horticulture, Entomology, and Mycology (1901-1904); reports to the president and board of visitors (1902-1907); shops department records (1902-1907); Agriculture Hall material (1905-1906); correspondence of Theodore Campbell, first Dean of Academic Department (1905-1906); requisitions and orders (1905, 1907/08); fire loss records (1905-1907); reports of absentism, tardiness, delinquency, or unsatisfactory work of students (1906/07, 1907/08); Proceedings Had Before the Committee Appointed to Investigate Charges Against the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (23-28 July 1906); and biographical information on McBryde, including newspaper clippings.


  • 1900 - 1907


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproductions 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

Known as the "father of VPI," McBryde was the first president to have a relatively free hand in developing the academic program, selecting associates, formulating policies, and planning the physical plant of the College. Major accomplishments of his administration included: establishing position of Dean in 1903-04 to aid in administration duties; reorganizing the curriculum and creating seven new 4- year courses leading to Bachelor of Science degrees; introducing a program of graduate study in 1891 and establishing a Graduate Department, with its own Dean, in 1907; starting the summer school program in 1904. Also during his tenure, McBryde improved and expanded the physical plant, with six buildings being renovated and sixty-seven new buildings constructed. The faculty increased from nine in 1891 to forty-eight in 1907 and enrollment rose from one hundred and thirty-five in 1891 to a peak of seven hundred and twenty-eight in 1904/05. McBryde was also the first president to encourage student activities, as witnessed by the beginning of an athletic program and resumption of publication of the Gray Jacket, as well as the adoption of school colors.

Hazing controversies plagued McBryde's administration, but his handling of the early cases tended to enhance his prestige as well as strengthen the College's image.

Because of declining health, McBryde was granted a six months leave of absence for rest and recuperation from January to June, 1906. During this interval, the Board appointed Ellison Smyth and Theodore Campbell to serve jointly as president of the Campus and designated the Rector, J. Thompson Brown, as official head of the College. McBryde returned to his duties as president, but since his health did not improve, he resigned effective 1 July 1907.


12 Cubic Feet (9 boxes)


John McClaren McBryde served as the fifth president of Virginia Tech (1891-1907). This collection documents his tenure as president, including correspondence, letter books, reports, bids and contracts, and other records.


The collection is arranged by subject.

Boxes 6-9 contain oversized material removed from boxes 1-5. The folder descriptions for boxes 6-9 indicate the folders from which the material was removed.

Source of Acquisition

The Records of the Office of the President, John McLaren McBryde materials were transferred to Special Collections and University Archives in May 1960, January 1973, and April 1973.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Records of the Office of the President, John McLaren McBryde by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 ( work/public-domain/cc0/).

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the Records of the Office of the President, John McLaren McBryde was completed prior to 1997.

Please note: There is no Box 5, Folder 164.

Records of the Office of the President, John McLaren McBryde, 1900-1907
Special Collections and University Archives Staff
2020 (CC0 1.0)
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