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Records of the Office of the President, Paul B. Barringer

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-02-06

Scope and Content

This collection contains mainly incoming and outgoing correspondence (1907-1913) concerning college activities and issues of Barringer's administration. Topics include academic standards; hazing; Hog Cholera outbreak (1908); fires; prohibition; water/sewage system; refrigeration plant; and advantages and dangers of football. A few letters from Barringer are to United States presidents: Theodore Roosevelt; William Howard Taft; and Woodrow Wilson. Also included with the collection are the following items: ledger of Board of Visitors Executive Committee minutes, handwritten (September 24, 1904 - November 1, 1904, and October 2, 1906 - June 12, 1908); inventories (1908-1911); letters of application for faculty positions (1909); several items relating to charges against Barringer by Lawrence Priddy, president of Alumni Association, and ensuing investigation (1910); correspondence and other items concerning Mess Hall investigation (1911); purchase orders (1911); reports to the Board of Visitors (1911); leases and contracts; report by Barringer to Board of Visitors on professors, giving names, ages, teaching hours per week, salary, degrees, and Barringer's personal remarks on each (no date).


  • 1900 - 1914


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for 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

The Board of Visitors elected educator and physician Paul B. Barringer (1857-1941) as the sixth president of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute (VPI) on May 17, 1907. Accomplishments of his administration include entrance requirements raised from four to fourteen units; a Farmer's Winter Course established; and summer school expanded.

Barringer's tenure as president was not a smooth one, hampered by several investigations. From the start, he was determined to develop the agricultural facet of VPI until it was at least equal to the engineering component, which caused some dissatisfaction among certain alumni and faculty. In 1909, the Chairman of the Alumni Association Welfare Committee, Lawrence Priddy, attempted to have the Board of Visitors oust Barringer. The Board ordered an investigation and a public hearing was held March 25, 1910, at which Priddy's charges were dismissed as "unwarranted" and "inaccurate." However, this was not the end of Barringer's problems.

In the fall of 1911, the Board again called for an investigation when a former Commandant of Cadets accused Barringer of "countenancing immorality" on campus. The investigation concluded that the charges were "without foundation."

Having survived those investigations, Barringer next ran afoul of Governor William H. Mann, who wanted the College to become involved in agriculture extension work. Barringer did not agree, so Mann said he would appoint a Board of Visitors antagonistic to Barringer if he did not resign. On June 10, 1912, Barringer resigned, but the Board asked him to remain in office another year until a new president was selected.

In 2020, Barringer Hall, a dorm on the Virginia Tech campus named for the president, was renamed Whitehurst Hall after James Whitehurst, the first Black student to live on campus and the first African American on the VT Board of Visitors. According to the Virginia Tech August 13, 2020 press release entitled "Board of Visitors Executive Committee approves new names for residence halls", Barringer's "public speeches and writings that were popular throughout the South prior to, during, and subsequent to his time as university president demonstrated and celebrated his personal views as a white supremacist who favored pro-slavery and anti-Black positions."


2.4 Cubic Feet (3 boxes and 1 oversize folder)


This collection is divided into two series, each arranged alphabetically.

  • Series I. Correspondence
  • Series II. Administrative files

Source of Acquisition

This collection was transferred to Special Collections and University Archives in 1960, 1973, and 1978. Additional materials were transferred prior to 2020.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Records of the Office of the President, Paul B. Barringer 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, Paul B. Barringer were completed prior to 2001.

Records of the Office of the President, Paul B. Barringer, 1900-1914
Laura Katz Smith, Archivist, and Clayton McGahee, Staff
2020 (CC0 1.0)
Language of description
Script of description
Initial web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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