Central University (Richmond, Ky.),1872-1901

Abstract

The collection, although small, include the minutes of the Alumni Association and the Board of Curators in their entirety from 1873 to 1901. The University's publications are well represented including catalogs, yearbooks and student literary magazines. Most interesting are papers dealing with the Tilman Robb controversy which provide an interesting sidelight. Central University, founded as a result of the split of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky into Northern and Southern branches over the issue of slavery, ran several associated institutions during its existence, but due to continued financial difficulties consolidated with Centre College in 1901.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Central University (Richmond, Ky.),1872-1901
Creator
Central University
Extent
1.6 linear feet, 2 boxes, 13 volumes
Subjects
Central University (Richmond, KY)
Finding Aid Author
Processed by: John LeDoux; machine-readable finding aid created by:Thomas Enneking
Repository
Centre College

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Central University was founded as a result of the split of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky into Northern andSouthern branches. While the Presbyterian Church had divided into two branches in 1861, principally over theissue of slavery, the Church did not split in Kentucky until 1867. The branches both claimed control of CentreCollege in Danville, and it took a Federal court to determine that the Northern branch retained control of theinstitution. A group of concerned members of the Southern Synod met and formed the Alumni Association ofCentral University. The University was chartered on March 3, 1873, and the Association began raising funds.
The Association called for an endowment of $150,000, but received pledges for $220,000. Anchorage,Kentucky, was the location selected, but when the citizens of Richmond and Madison County pledged$101,000, the school opened there on September 22, 1874 with at total of 224 students.
The Alumni Association appointed the Board of Curators, which served as the trustees. Eventually, theSouthern Synod took over direct control of appointing the Board of Curators in exchange for the Church'sfinancial support. The school itself was headed by a chancellor. Robert L. Breck served in that capacity from1874-1880. He was succeeded by Lindsay H. Blanton, who served until the merger with Centre College.
Almost from the beginning, Central faced financial problems. The original endowment was in promissory notesand pledges, a large number of which went uncollected due to the Panic of 1873. Another important endowmentdrive was hampered by the Panic of 1893. Enrollment was also a problem. It dropped every year of Breck'schancellorship, and the school never graduated a class larger than 25 students. These problems eventuallymeant consolidation with Centre.
During its existence Central ran several associated institutions. These included a law school, a medical school(located in Louisville), a dental school (also located in Louisville), and a preparatory department. In addition,Central ran three other prep schools in the state. These were the S.P. Lees Collegiate Institute (in Jackson), theHardin Collegiate Institute (Elizabethtown), and the Middlesborough University School (Middlesborough). TheUniversity itself became co-educational in the 1890's with women first graduating in 1896.
In 1901, beset with financial difficulties and small enrollment, Central University agreed to consolidation withCentre College. The new institution would be located in Danville, and known as the Central University ofKentucky. An act of the State Legislature in 1918 changed the name back to the Centre College of Kentucky.
Scope and Content
The collection is not particularly rich and is very small, especially when one considers that Central Universityexisted for 28 years. Happily, there are some exceptions to this statement. The minutes of the AlumniAssociation and the Board of Curators exist in their entirety from 1873 to 1901. It is here that one will find theofficial history of Central University, since these were the bodies responsible for founding and administering theinstitution.
The University's publications are also well represented. There are catalogues from every academic year excepttwo, 1879-80 and 1900-1901. Yearbooks remain from three of the last six years of the University. In addition,there are 19 issues of the Atlantis, the student literary magazine.
The papers dealing with the Tilman Robb controversy provide an interesting sidelight. Young Mr. Robb wasdismissed from the University by the faculty for cheating on an examination. His father, an acquaintance ofChancellor Blanton, protested. Blanton sided with the Robbs, arguing the penalty was too stiff and that Robbhad not had a fair hearing. The lines were drawn and the ill feelings generated between Chancellor and facultycontinued beyond the incident. Tilman Robb went on to become a physician.
A major weakness of the collection is the lack of records before 1880. No records remain from the chancellor'soffice during the tenure of Robert L. Breck. The records from L.H. Blanton's tenure are few in number,considering Blanton served for 21 years. (See also CC-63 L.H. Blanton Papers for material on Blanton after1901)
There is also little about student life. What does exist is almost entirely programs for commencements orpresentations of the literary societies. Fortunately, a complete list of graduates exists, often adding a sentenceor two on what the person did upon leaving the University.
Overall, the collection is very small and not likely to give on a good history of Central University. The minutes ofthe Alumni Association and the Board of Curators will give an official history, but, as a rule, there are notsupporting documents in the collection. An exception would be the Tilman Robb incident.
Copies of much of the material in this collection is available at the Eastern Kentucky University Libraries,Special Collections and Archives Section.

Contents of the Collection

CC-131 Histories

Contains a picture of the Central University Building, printed on a letterhead dated March 18, 1875…

  • Folder 1 (#1)
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CC-132 Alumni Association

Series A Minutes

Minutes of Alumni Association meetings, 1873-1901

  • Volume 1
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Series B Donation Books

Contain lists of original subscribers to Central University, 1872-1873

  • Volume 1-3
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Series C Subscription Sheets

Contains 3 sheets listing subscriptions to Central University, undated, ca. 1872-1873

  • Folder 1 (#2)
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Series D Speeches and Programs

Contains an article "The University Days", by Joel T. Wade (undated); an advertisement for the…

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CC-133 Board of Curators

Series A Minutes

Minutes of Board of Curators Meetings, ca. 1873-1901

  • Volume 1-2
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Series B Correspondence and Reports

Four letters from 1898-1899; announcement of a new class in theology; excerpts from the charter…

  • Folder 1 (#4)
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CC-134 Chancellor's Office

Series 134.1 Robert L. Breck, ca. 1874-1880

No records
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Series 134.2 Lindsay H. Blanton, ca. 1880-1904)

Series A

Contain official correspondence of L.H. Blanton

  • Folder 1-3 (#5-7)
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Contains personal correspondence arranged chronologically; included is a partially completed…

  • Folder 4 (#8)
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Series B Relations with Board of Curators

Contains 13 letters from E.M. Green, Chairman of the Board of Curators; extracts of minutes; copies…

  • Folder 1 (#9)
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Series C Tilman Robb Controversey

Contain all material related to Tilman Robb's dismissal. Includes reports, summaries, statements…

  • Folder 1-4 (#10-13)
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Series D Speeches and Reports

Contains speech given December 13, 1900 opening the Louisville College of Dentistry; an address…

  • Folder 1 (#14)
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CC-135 Registrar's Office

Contains class records from 1874-1901

  • Volume 1
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Contains lists of non-graduate students from 1874-1901

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Contains miscellaneous class lists; lists of Board of Trustees, Board of Curators, Treasurers…

  • Folder 1 (#15)
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Contains student lists by classes from 1875-1892

  • Folder 2 (#16)
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Contains student lists by classes from 1893-1901

  • Folder 3 (#17)
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Contains handwritten student lists to 1900

  • Folder 4 (#18)
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Contains typed list "Alumni not correctly recorded in the files of Centre College." ca. 1875-1901

  • Folder 5 (#19)
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CC-136 Legal Documents

Contains agreements, contracts, county clerk reports, mortgages, court petitions, and the agreement…

  • Folder 1 (#1)
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CC-137 Financial

Account book, Balances Due, ca. 1874-1884

  • Volume 1
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Contains lists of subscriptions paid, expenses, debts, notes received, financial reports…

  • Folder 1 (#2)
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CC-138 Associated Institutions

Contain all documents including correspondence, calendars, announcements, and agreements related to…

  • Volume 1 and Folder 1
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Series 138.1 Caldwell High School

Contains calendar for the school year 1896-97

  • Folder 1 (#3)
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Series 138.2 Hardin Collegiate Institute

Contains 8 letters between J.E. Austin, Principal and Chancellor L.H. Blanton

  • Folder 1 (#4)
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Series 138.3 College of Law

Contains announcement for the year 1900-1901

  • Folder 1 (#5)
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Series 138.4 S. P. Lees Collegiate Institute

Contains notes on the school by J.M. Moore (undated); three letters and a program of dedication…

  • Folder 1 (#6)
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Series 138.5 College of Medicine and College of Dentistry

Contains 5 letters and 1 set of minutes of committee appointed to consider and take action on…

  • Folder 1 (#7)
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Series 138.6 Middlesborough University School

Contains petitions, specifications for construction, bids, and correspondence. Undated material at…

  • Folder 1 (#8)
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CC-139 Library

Catalogue of Landis Library donated by Rev. Robert N. Landis on September 15, 1877

  • Volume 1
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Contains library accession numbers, beginning in 1877 and showing books taken out of circulation in…

  • Volume 2
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CC-140 Faculty

Contains faculty records, 1883-1900

  • Volume 1
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CC-141 Student Life

Series A General (ca. 1881-1900)

Contains lyrics to college song (1892); an edition of University Hot Times (1900); and commencement…

  • Folder 1 (#9)
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Series 141.1 Literary Societies

Contains programs of joint celebrations of the Philalethean Literary Society and the Epiphyllidian…

  • Folder 1 (#10)
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Series 141.2 Fraternities

Contains third annual letter (1890) of Kentucky Delta; Charter of the SAE fraternity is located in…

  • Folder 1 (#11)
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CC-142 Publications

Series A Catalogues

Catalogues for every year except 1879-89 and 1900-01, ca. 1874-1900

  • Volume 1-25
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Series B Yearbooks

One copy of 1896 edition, one copy of 1898 edition, and two copies each for 1900 and 1901 editions.

  • Volume 1-6
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Series C Atlantis

Contain copies of 19 issues of the student literary magazine. The run is incomplete, ca. 1887-1898

  • Folder 1-6 (#12-17)
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CC-143 Newspaper Clippings

Contains miscellaneous newspaper clippings, located in the newspaper clipping file

  • Folder 1
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Central-Centre consolidation

  • Folder 2
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CC-144 Photographs

Contains photos of alumni include Everett Wade Bedinger, Jr.; Graves Griffith; and group shot of…

  • Folder 1
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CC-145 Microfilm

Board of Curators meeting minutes 1873-1901. Located in audio-visual collection in archives

  • Reel 1
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