Central University Records Collection,1873-1901

Descriptive Summary

Title
Central University Records Collection,1873-1901
Creator
Central University, 1874-1901
Extent
3.15 cubic feet, 5,250 items, 7 Boxes, 3 reels of microfilm
Finding Aid Author
Processed by Charles Hay; machine-readable finding aid created by Hilary Writt
Repository
Eastern Kentucky University

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Central University was founded as the result of a split of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky into Northern and Southern branches. While the Presbyterian Church had split into two branches in 1861, principally over the issue of slavery, the Church did not split in Kentucky until 1867. The branches both claimed control of Centre College in Danville, and it finally took a Federal court in 1871 to determine that the Northern branch controlled the institution. A group of concerned members of the Southern Synod met in 1872 and formed the Alumni Association of Central University Members included Alumni of Centre College as well as other prominent leaders of the movement. The Alumni Association offered to cooperate with the Synod in establishing a university.
At a meeting of the Alumni Association in Louisville, in February, 1873, an effort to provide synodic control of the University was defeated. Central University received a charter from the State Legislature on March 3,1873. The charter placed the government of the University in the hands of those who had endowed it and who would later become its graduates and whom the Alumni Association might thereafter elect.
The Association called for an endowment of $150,000 but received pledges for $220,000. Anchorage, Kentucky was selected as the site for the University, but when the citizens of Richmond and Madison County pledged $101,000, the school opened there on September 22, 1874 with a total of 224 students and one newly built classroom building. The original college organization consisted of a College of Letters and Science, a College of Law, and a Preparatory Department in Richmond, and a College of Medicine, in Louisville.
In 1886 a College of Dentistry was opened in Louisville. And in the1890s three associated institutions opened: Jackson (S. P. Lees) Collegiate Institute (1890) in Breathitt County, Hardin Collegiate Institute (1892) in Elizabethtown, and Middlesboro Collegiate Institute (1896).
The Alumni Association appointed the Board of Curators, which served as the trustees. Eventually, in 1884 the Southern Synod took over direct control of appointing the Board of Curators in exchange for the Church's financial support. The University itself was headed by a chancellor. Robert Levi Breck served in that capacity from 1874 to 1880. He was succeeded by Lindsay Huges Blanton, who served until the consolidation with Centre College in 1901.
Almost from the outset, Central University had financial problems. The original endowment was in promissory notes and pledges, a large number of which went uncollected due to the Panic of 1873. Another important endowment drive was hampered by the Panic of 1893. Enrollment was also a problem. It dropped every year of Brecks chancellorship, and the school never graduated a class larger than 25. The University itself became co-educational in the 1890s, with women first graduating in 1896. However, the enrollment and financial problems led directly to the consolidation with Centre College. Prominent Madison Countians bitterly fought the consolidationists, but were outvoted. Finally on July 16, 1901 the merger between the schools took place. The new institution would be located in Danville and known as the Central University of Kentucky. An act of the State Legislature in 1918 changed the name back to the Centre College of Kentucky.
Scope and Content
Eastern Kentucky University has been interested in the history of Central University for a number of years. Although Central University consolidated with Centre College at Danville in 1901 and ceased to exist in Richmond, several of her influential graduates from Madison County desired to continue higher education activities at Richmond. They vigorously pushed for the Kentucky General Assembly's passage of the Normal School enabling legislationin 1906. These citizens also were directly instrumental in Richmond and the physical plant of Central University being selected as the site for one of the recently approved state normal schools. Therefore, Eastern Kentucky University's heritage can rightfully be traced back to 1873 and the establishment of Central University.
Eastern Professor of History Jonathan Truman Dorris devoted considerable time to locating any information he could secure on Central University while researching and writing the history of Eastern. In 1934 he published an article in the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society on the history of old Central. Dorris collected numerous documents on Central University through the years and donated many of them to the Crabbe Library. He also had permission from Centre College officials to copy the minutes from the Board of Curators of Central University.
Interest in Central University's history was revived again in 1974 when Eastern celebrated the centennial year of higher education in Richmond. By1977 the newly created University Archives began gathering documents on Central University. The Archives copied all existing Central University records in the Crabbe Library and received donations of several previously unknown University publications. In 1979 the Archivist contacted Centre College librarian, Mr. John May, and inspected their archives files for documents on Central University. Unfortunately, the archives were not organized, but the Archivist uncovered a number of documents that were not in Eastern's archives. Permission was granted to copy those records. Several years later Centre received a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to process and catalog all of its archival records. Mr. John Le Doux, project archivist, processed the archives and graciously permitted Eastern to photocopy or microfilm any newly uncovered Central University materials. A special thanks must be extended to Mr. Stan Campbell, Director of Doherty Library at Centre, and his assistant, Mr. Robert Glass, for being so cooperative during the entire project.
The records of Central University help to document in part the turbulent post-Civil War era in Kentucky educational and religious history. Since the bulk of the collection had no organization, the Archives imposed its own pattern of arrangement. Unfortunately, for the researcher there are numerous gaps in the records. Actions taken by the University's governing bodies, theAlumni Association and Board of Curators, are completely documented in their minutes of meetings. Also, the information on the University's official history can be gleaned from a fine set of publications - the catalogs and yearbooks. However, the records from the office of the chief executive officer, the Chancellor, are very incomplete. Hardly any documents from Chancellor Breck's administration have survived, and only the latter years of Chancellor Blanton's tenure are adequately documented, especially the Robb cheating controversy case.
Note: Townsend Collection has a small Central University Collection of misc. items including account books, literary society minutes, and other records. Call No. is LD 881 .R42 A310.

Contents of the Collection

Alumni Association Series

The Alumni Association Series consists of 2 folders of materials covering the years 1873 to 1901. Minutes of the Alumni Association meetings are found in the first folder. Lists of original subscribers to Central University (C.U.), a speech by Richmond lawyer and alumnus J. A. Sullivan before the Alumni Association in 1888, and two speeches before the Alumni Association by Chancellor Blanton in 1901 outlining the history of C.U. and the need for consolidation with Centre College along with alumni subscribers voting list are included in the second folder. The alumni Association founded, endowed, and governed C. U. from 1873 until 1884 when governing authority was transferred to the Kentucky Presbyterian Synod (South). Prominent alumni from Richmond and Madison County bitterly fought the consolidation of C.U. and Centre College in 1901. The Alumni Association series should be used in conjunction with several other series, especially the Consolidation with Centre College Series, to document further its role and importance in C. U.'s history.

Minutes of Meetings - April 29, 1973 - June 19, 1901

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Miscellaneous Materials - 1880 - 1901

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Associated Institutions Series

The Associated Institutions Series consists of five folders of correspondence, calendars, announcements, and agreements relating to preparatory institutes and colleges associated with and governed by Central University. All materials are organized alphabetically by school and chronologically within and cover the years 1892 to 1901. The three collegiate institutes were an outgrowth of C. U. 's preparatory school which opened at Richmond in 1874. Curriculum consisted of courses to prepare students for college work. and teacher training. The Hardin and Middlesboro Institutes were continually beset with financial difficulty, but the Jackson (renamed S.P. Lee's) received handsome contributions from several wealthy Presbyterian benefactors in New York and Chicago. Unfortunately, information is very scant on C. U.'s affiliated professional schools - the College of Law at Richmond and Colleges of Medicine and Dentistry at Louisville. More information about the schools and institutes can be found in the university catalogs and minutes of the meetings of the Board of Curators.

College of Law - 1900

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College of Medicine and Dentistry - 1900-1901

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Hardin Collegiate Institute - 1899-1901

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S. P. Lee's (Jackson) Collegiate Institute - 1892-1901.

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Middlesboro Collegiate Institute - 1896-1900.

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Board of Curators Series

The Board of Curators Series consists of 1 folder of minutesof the governing body of C. U. Minutes cover the years 1873 to 1901.

Minutes of Meetings - May 28, 1873 - July 3, 1901.

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Chancellor's Series

Chancellor's Series consists of 6 folders of correspondence, speeches, reports, testimonies, extracts of minutes, and newspaper clippings, found inBoxes 1 and 2 covering the years 1878 to 1904. All materials are arranged chronologically and deal primarily with the official business of C. U.'S chief executive officer. Unfortunately, documentation in this series is very unevenly. Only one letter exists for the tenure of Chancellor Breck (for more Breck correspondence on C. U. see' the Archibald Woods Papers, 81A7). The majority of Chancellor Blanton correspondence begins in 1898. His general correspondence covers a variety of legal and fiscal matters, especially his constant efforts to raise subscriptions and donations for C. U.'s endowment, relations with the Kentucky Presbyterian Synod, and keeping the Board of Curators apprised of campus events. Of particular interest is correspondence concerning the Robb Case. Tillnan Robb, son of a close friend of Blanton's, attended C. U. in 1898, and was caught cheating on a German examination by Professor Edwin L. Green. The faculty voted to expell Robb permanently, but Blanton defended the youth. Actually the Robb controversy erupted over the administration of C. U. and illuminates the classic struggle of authority of governance between faculty and administration. The Board of Curator's appointed a committee to investigate charges of fiscal mismanagement and abuse of academic standards by athletes brought by the faculty against Blanton. Blanton staunchly defended himself (see Blanton to Board of Curator s Executive Committee, January, 1899 in General Correspondence and Speeches, 1899 folder) and was exonecated by the Board. There are only three Blanton speeches: 1899 historical sketch and report on current state of affairs at C. U.; 1900 remarks before College of Dentistry at Louisville; and April 10, 1901 speech before the citizens of Richmond relative to the consolidation of C. U. and Centre College.

General Correspondence and Speeches - 1878-1889

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General Correspondence and Speeches - 1890-1898

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General Correspondence and Speeches - 1899

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General Correspondence and Speeches - 1900-1904

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General Correspondence and Speeches - Speeches by L. H. Blanton

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Robb Case - 1898-1899

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Consolidation with Centre College Series

Consolidation with Centre College Series consists of 1 folder of correspondence, speeches, and newspaper clippings arranged chronologically for the year 1901. Due to a number of factors, primarily C. U.'s poor financial condition, Chancellor Blanton and the Board of Curators, especially Thomas Bullitt of Louisville, initiated talks with Centre College officials concerning the consolidation of the two institutions. This series vividly accounts the great struggle over the merger. Many citizens of Richmond, especially Rodes Shackleford, Daniel Breck, the Burnams, and Richard W. Tiller, who were alumni of C. U., bitterly fought the consolidationists.The consolidationists pushed the merger agreement first through the KentuckyPresbyterian Synods (North and South) and then barely through C. U.'s Alumni Association. Finally on July 16, 1901 the consolidation became effective.

1901

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Faculty Series

Faculty Series consists of a microfilm copy of the minutes, reports, and petitions of students and faculty in the College of Philosophy, Lettersand Science from 1883 to 1901.

1883 - 1901

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Financial Series

The Financial Series consists of 12 folders of materials found inBoxes 2 and 3 covering the years 1873 to 1900. Folders contain account books, balances due, donation and subscription lists, general ledgers, lists of assets, insurance on property, and financial reports. Materials are organized alphabetically by topic and chronologically within each topic.

Account Books - Tuition - 1885

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Account Books - Tuition - 1895-1896

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Donation and Subscription Lists - 1873-1900

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Ledgers - General - 1880-1883

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Ledgers - General - 1883

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Ledgers - General - 1895-1896

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Ledgers - General - 1897-1898 (Folder 1)

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Ledgers - General - 1897-1898 (Folder 2)

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Ledgers - General - 1898-1899

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Ledgers - General - 1899-1900

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Ledgers - General - 1899-1900

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Ledgers - General - 1900

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Ledgers - Student Accounts - 1874-1884

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Historical and Biographical Series

The Historical and Biographical Series consists of 4 folders of articles, lists, and newspaper clippings covering the years 1874 to 1901. Materials are arranged alphabetically by topic and chronoligically within each topic. Of particular interest are articles on the history of C. U. by Drs. Dorris and Engle.

Biographical Information On: Lindsay Hughes Blanton, Elizabeth Blanton, Dr. Joseph Blanton, Ethel…

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Historical Articles on Central University by J. T. Dorris and Fred A. Engle, Jr.

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List of Central University Board of Trustees and Curators, Professors, and Honorary Degree…

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Newspaper Articles and General Articles on Central University, including historical data written by…

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Ms. S. Russell Letcher - First Woman to Secure a Degree - June, 1894.

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Photograph Series

Photograph Series consists of 1 folder of thriteen photographic portrait prints of Central University students. The photographs are arranged in alphabetical order by student and cover the years 1884 to 1892. All but the Booker and Woods photos were taken in Richmond by the Louis Schlegel studio.

Philip Foster Barbour - Class of 1884.

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Thomas F. Booker and Clarence E. Woods - 1892 at St. Louis meeting of Sigma Nu fraternity.

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Walter Bukey - Class of 1884.

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Owen Wynn Butler - Class of 1885.

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Charles G. Crooks - Class of 1884.

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R. Tate Irvine - Class of 1884.

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Orville A. Kennedy - Class of 1884.

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Charles Hugh Rice McElroy - Class of 1884.

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Robert Lee Mariman - Class of 1884.

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James Simpson - Class of 1885.

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Graham Smith - Class of 1884.

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William Ramsom Welch - Class of 1884

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Unknown - Class of 1884.

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T.S. Wittmeier - Class of 1900.

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Central University Faculty - 1880.

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Publications Series

Publications Series is found in Boxes 4,5, and 6 and covers1874 to 1902. The Series consists of official university and student publications that are arranged alphabetically by title and chronologically within. The university catalog collection is complete, most issues of the student newspaper, Central News (on microfilm) are present, and only one issue of the yearbook, Cream and Crimson is missing. Unfortunately, many gaps exist in the student literary publication, The Atlantis.

The Atlantis - June 1886, April 1887, Oct, Nov, & Dec 1887.

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The Atlantis - January, February, March, May, Oct., Nov., 1888.

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The Atlantis - January, February, October, November, December, 1889.

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The Atlantis - January, February, March, April 1890.

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The Atlantis - June 1894, February 1896, November 1898, December 1898.

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Catalog - 1874-1875.

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Catalog - 1875-1876.

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Catalog - 1876-1877

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Catalog - 1877-1878

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Catalog - 1878-1879.

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Catalog - 1880-1881.

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Catalog - 1881-1882.

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Catalog - 1882-1883.

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Catalog - 1883-1884.

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Catalog - 1884-1885

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Catalog - 1885-1886

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Catalog - 1886-1887.

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Catalog - 1887-1888.

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Catalog - 1888-1889

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Catalog - 1889-1890

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Catalog - 1890-1891

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Catalog - 1891-1892

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Catalog - 1892-1893.

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Catalog - 1893-1894.

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Catalog - 1894-1895.

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Catalog - 1895-1896.

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Catalog - 1896-1897.

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Catalog - 1896-1897.

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Catalog - 1898-1899.

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Catalog - 1902-1903.

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Yearbooks - Cream and Crimson - Vol.1 1895.

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Yearbooks - Cream and Crimson - Vol. IV 1898.

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Yearbooks - Cream and Crimson - Vol. IV 1898.

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Yearbooks - Cream and Crimson - Vol. V 1900.

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Yearbooks - Cream and Crimson - Vol. VI 1901

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Legal Series

Legal Series consists of 7 folders of property transfer deeds, apower of attorney, law suits, contracts, leases, and related materials arranged chronologically by date of case covering the years 1886 to 1901. Of particular interest is the 1901 petition of equity suit brought by the heirs of Rebecca Shearers against L. H. Blanton and Central University's Board of Curators. The suit concerned the consolidation of C U. and Centre and therefore supplies information on the nature of the Alumni Association and the effects of consolidation on the subscribers to C. U.

Property Transfer of S. R. Smith to R. W. Millsaps - January 27, 1886.

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Power of Attorney for L. H. Blanton in Estate of William McKinnon - November 5, 1886.

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S. W. Evans Contract - May 3, 1887

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Property Transfer from Jack Desha to Central Univ. - Feb. 23, 1892.

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Rental of Coal and Warehouse Facilities by Central Univ. Jan. 1, 1900.

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Contract Between James L. Engleman and Central Univ. - Aug. 20, 1900.

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Petition of Equity to Restrain Consolidation of Central College & Central University. Re: Rebecca…

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Memorabilia

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Students Series

Students Series consists of seven folders of materials covering1874 to 1902. The Class Register which lists the grades of each studentby course by year is on microfilm. Of particular interest is a complete listof graduates from C. U. along with a sentence or two on what the person did upon leaving the University. Such student life revolved around literary societies and oratorical contests. The 1890 Constitution and by-laws of the Epiphyllidian Literary Society along with information about the Philalethean Literary Society is found in the series. Also, a copy of the 1892 college song is found in the miscellaneous materials folder.

Class Register - 1874-1901 (on microfilm)

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List of Students Graduating from Central University - 1874-1901

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List of Non-Graduating Students from Central University - 1875-1902.

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Fraternities - Theta Nu Epsilon Charter - April 25, 1898.

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Fraternity History. Literary Societies - 1887-1890

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Miscellaneous Materials - 1892-1900

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Ms. S. Russell Letcher - First Woman to Secure a Degree - June, 1894

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