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Clemson University Board of Trustees Records

Identifier: Series-0030

Scope and Contents

This series contains the records of the Board of Trustees of Clemson University. The records are found in files, volumes, publications and microfilm. Included in this series is information which may be categorized as follows: Athletics, Biographical Files, Board Activities, Board Materials, Board of Visitiors, Commission on Higher Education, Committees, Correspondence, Executive Secretary, and President. The records span the years of 1888-1991.

The athletic subseries consists of files pertaining to the work the Board did involving the athletics of the university, particularly football. The files span the years 1954-2011, with the bulk being from 1991-2010.

The biographical files consist of information on individual trustees assembled by J.M. Napier, a county agent with the Cooperative Extension Service, and Arthur Buist Bryan, a professor of English. Both were asked by President Robert F. Poole to write biographical sketches of members of the Board of Trustees and a historical statement of activities of activities of the Board since the founding of the institution. Although the material was collected, a formal history was never written. The information consists of correspondence between a particular trustee (or a family member, if the trustee was deceased) and Napier and Bryan. Many folders contain biographical sketches taken from Who's Who in South Carolina and other reference works.

The board activities subseries contains files pertaining to the activities that gathered the board together. These include meetings, teleconferences, retreats, and ceremonies. The subseries spans the years 1937-2011, with the bulk being from 1992-2011.

The board materials subseries contains material created by the board through its activities. Examples of this are manuals, by-laws, receipts, board notebooks, minutes, reports, agendas, and budgets. The subseries spans the years 1937-2013, with the bulk from 1979-2012.

The board of visitors subseries contains files pertaining to the board of visitors, an advocacy board with members nominated by the trustees to serve for three year terms. The subseries spans from 1976-2007, with the bulk from 1984-1992.

The commision on higher education subseries contains material focused on the board's work with the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, an organization focused on promoting access, affordability, and excellence within the state system of higher education. The subseries spans from 1997-2004, with the bulk from 1997-2000.

The information from standing committees takes the form of correspondence, reports and minutes in loose-leaf and bound formats. Minutes for the committees span the years 1890-2012. Although committee reports were not kept for all committees for all years, summaries of activities of most committees are frequently found in the Minutes and in the Report of the President.

Correpondence files span 1890-2001. General correspondence is arranged chronologicallty, while personal correspondence is arranged by last name of the trustee. The general files cover routine board matters involved in the daily operation of the institution and meetings of the Board. Included, for example, are bid on the construction of buildings, costs of cadet uniforms, requests for salary increases and resignations. The files of the members cover various issues on which they corresponded.

The executive secretary subseries covers files pertaining to the work of the many different executive secretaries of the board, in particular Thornton Kirby. The subseries spans from 1889-2008, with the bulk from 1993-2007.

The president subseries contains files pertaining to the board's work with the president of the university. The subseries spans from 1903-2007, with the bulk from 2000-2005.


  • 1888 - 2012


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on access.

Administrative History

The will of Thomas G. Clemson dated November 6, 1886, provided for the establishment of the Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina and thirteen trustees to administer it. Seven, who were friends and associates of Clemson, were named as Life Trustees; that is to say, they would serve for life and would have the power to fill vacancies as they occurred among the Life Trustees. The remaining six trustees were elected by the General Assembly of South Carolina in December, 1889 to serve terms of four years.

The seven Life Trustees were R.W. Simpson, D.K. Norris, M.L. Donaldson, R.E. Bowen, B.R. Tillman, J.E. Wannamaker and J.E. Bradley. The first elected trustees were W.B. Edwards, J.L. Orr, J.E. Tindal, E.T. Stackhouse, J.H. Hardin and Alan Johnstone. The seven Life Trustees met on May 2, 1888 to organize and begin work. However, it was not until the Act of Acceptance, passed in December of 1888, that brought the college into legal existence. The General Assembly elected the remaining six trustees and the full board was able to convene.

On January 20, 1890 the entire board met for the first time at Wright's Hotel in Columbia, South Carolina. R.W. Simpson was elected as President of the Board. In sixsubsequent meetings that year, the Board selected a President, planned for buildings and established an Agricultural Experiment Station. The first faculty members were elected at the meeting of July 29, 1891.

The structure and powers of the Board are outlined in the Bylaws, which have been published and amended several times over the years. Officers include a President (position renamed to Chairman after 1975) and a Secretary. The first committees consisted of executives, finance, agricultureal, fertilizer, entomological, veterinary and scholarship. Over the years as the institution grew and changed, however, the committees have evolved to executive, budget and finance, educational policy, institutional advancement, planning and student affairs.


91 Cubic Feet (including 40 oversize items, 70 volumes, 6 rolls of microfilm, 20 photographs and 4 audiotapes.)

Language of Materials



The series is arranged alphabetically by category. The following items have been separated for purposes of preservation: Oversize (Papers, Volumes, Photographs); Microfilm; Photographs.


The records contained in this series are of multiple provenance. Most records originated with the Secretary of the Board of Trustees; they were received by the library over several years. Other records were assembled by J.M. Napier, county agent with the Cooperative Extension Service, and A.B. Bryan, a professor of English, who were asked by President Robert F. Poole to write biographical sketches of the Board of Trustees. The Minutes of the Board and Periodic Reports, kept for many years in the office of the President, were received by the archives in 1987.

Processing Information

The series was processed by Dennis S. Taylor, University Archivist, in May 1993.


Clemson University Board of Trustees Records 1888-2012
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Clemson University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Repository

230 Kappa St.
Clemson SC 29634 U.S.A. US