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University of Arkansas Board of Trustees Records

Identifier: MC 14

Scope and Content Note

"Materials include records from the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas (first named Arkansas Industrial University). The bulk of the materials date from the creation of the university in 1871 to the end of the 19th century while some materials date during the 20th century. The collection contains documents instrumental to the founding of the university, including materials concerning location and funding decisions. Also included is correspondence to the Board of Trustees as a whole and to individual board members and a copy book for correspondence sent from the board. There are also reports to the board from several committees, including the Building Committee. The Building Committee files contain information about the building of Old Main, including specifications and correspondence with supervising architects. The PWA Building Program files contain information on the construction of the medical building in Little Rock, Vol Walker Library and the Chemistry building. Also included are applications and testimonial correspondence for faculty and staff employment and for president of the A.I.U."


  • 1868-1935


Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

The University of Arkansas was created through the Morrill Act of 1862 which provided means for states to establish universities for the purpose of teaching agricultural and mechanical arts. In 1871, Arkansas passed legislation to enable the realization of this act and created Arkansas Industrial University. The name changed to the University of Arkansas in 1899. The act of 1871 called for the creation of a Board of Trustees consisting of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction as ex-officio president and ten members, one from each judicial circuit, elected by the state legislature. During 1871, cities bid for the location of the university through the sale of bonds. Fayetteville won the bid, and a 160 acre farm was bought for $12,000 from William McIlroy for the permanent location of the university. The university opened on January 22, 1872, and eight students, all from Fayetteville, showed up to register for classes. The students began attending classes in a wooden building, which has long been gone. It was not until 1873 that a contract was awarded to Oliver and Mayes to construct the first permanent building, known today as Old Main. It was completed in 1875 and for many years was used not only for classrooms but also for dormitories, library, museum, bookstore, chapel, gymnasium, and office space. In addition to the required agricultural and mechanical studies, the university also taught classics and military tactics. Some students were not prepared to enter as college freshman and took classes in the Preparatory Department before entering university level classes. In addition there was the Normal Department for the education of teachers. Tuition for the normal department was free to those willing to commit to teach for two years. The first bachelor’s degree was awarded in 1876.

The Board of Trustees had three major reorganizations during this time period, appointing all new members each time. In 1874, the General Assembly revoked the authority of the Board and established a new Board of reduced size, consisting of the Governor, the President of the university and seven other members. The Board was reorganized a second time by the General Assembly in 1883. The new Board consisted of the Governor, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the President of the university and six other members, one member from each Congressional District. Members were appointed by the Governor. The General Assembly reorganized the Board for a third time with an act in 1887. The new Board consisted of seven members: the Governor and one member from each congressional district.


5 Linear Feet (9 boxes)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of the Papers

The collection can be divided into three main parts. The first part consists of documents important to the founding of the university and is organized by date. The second part consists of correspondence, reports and committee materials to the Board of Directors. Correspondence is first organized by recipient and then date. Reports and committee materials follow arranged by subject. The third part consists of correspondence concerning employment with the A.I.U. Faculty and staff application correspondence comes first arranged by date. President applications follow. Individual folders were created for presidential applicants with multiple pieces of correspondence and are arranged alphabetically by applicant. General presidential applicants follow arranged chronologically and then obligations of students from the Normal Department to teach. The last box contains oversized materials.

Acquisition Information

Materials were transferred from Vol Walker Library in 1968

Processing Information

Amy Allen and Anthony Wappell with additional processing completed by Amy Allen in January 2011

University of Arkansas Board of Trustees Records
Amy Allen
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444