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Frank R. Reade Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Collection number: UA-2-1-3

Scope and Contents

Reade's papers invite leisurely perusal to appreciate his humor and erudition.  His papers are expansive, covering topics from his family and genealogy to administrative correspondence to correspondence with and photographs of the famous men and women of his day.  The collection includes books, journals, correspondence, reports, scrapbooks, drawings, photographs, and realia.  The correspondence ranges from a manuscript of a Civil War era diary by Frank Smith Robertson (1841-1926), Reade's relative and an aide to J.E.B. Stuart to 1989, with the settlement of Jean Cunningham Reade's estate.  The bulk of the materials run from 1934-1948, during the time Reade was president of Georgia State Woman's College.

Subject headings are indexed. Scroll down to Digital Objects (not Subjects) and select heading to access index.


  • 1841 - 1989
  • Majority of material found within 1934 - 1948


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Frank Robertson Reade was the third president of Georgia State Women's College. He was appointed by the Board of Regents as interim president in May 1934, due to Dr. Jere Pound's illness. After Pound's death in February 1935, Reade was appointed president and served for 13 years (1935-1948). Dr. Reade was born in Abingdon, Virginia, in 1895. He graduated from Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., in 1914 and taught there for two years. In 1916, he entered the University of Virginia. Reade took a brief sabbatical from college studies to serve in France during World War I in the medical corps. He returned to the University of Virginia. in 1919 and graduated with a degree in English as the president of his class in 1920. Reade received his M.A. in English in June 1921 and completed requirements for a doctorate degree in 1926. He returned to teaching at Episcopal High School for one year in 1922, then taught English at the Georgia School of Technology from 1924 until his appointment at GSWC. He married Jean Cunningham in 1922; the couple had no children.

Reade was a very dynamic student and educator and was a member of many honor societies and civic organizations. These include Phi Beta Kappa, the Raven Society and Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, all at the University of Virginia, and Omicron Delta Kappa at the Georgia School of Technology. He was the president of the Association of Georgia Colleges from 1942-44.

Reade worked very hard to continue the advancement of GSWC, including improving the facilities, curriculum, and activities. Physical improvements to the college include paving the campus roads and the construction of Senior Hall dormitory, the swimming pool, and bathhouse, the Student Activities Log Cabin, and the library. Reade strenuously pursued financial support outside of the usual University System avenues, and all of these projects, with the exception of paving the roads, were partially funded with WPA funds. Courses in secretarial science and home economics were added to the curriculum, in addition to social work and library science, which were National Youth Administration projects. Existing departments met requirements to offer a B.S. degree in addition to an A.B. degree. Under Reade, the liberal arts curriculum was completely revamped. Reade gave the student body more autonomy handling student affairs. An example of this is the Attendance Committee of the Student Government Association. This committee monitored the class attendance of fellow students and mailed warning notices to parents.

His papers reveal a gregarious personality with a keen sense of humor. Reade made himself available to both faculty and students, and they admired and appreciated his "open door" policy. He did his best to facilitate good relations in the academic community. An article in the April 11, 1948, Valdosta Daily Times notes, "His ability to retain both a student and faculty outlook has smoothed over rough spots, helping to develop the morale and typically friendly atmosphere of the College which visitors are forever mentioning and attempting to define."

Reade was popular outside of college life as well. He counted many celebrities of the day as personal friends and regularly corresponded with them. Edith Bolling Wilson, Woodrow Wilson's second wife, was related to Reade on his mother's side. Eleanor Roosevelt was also a good family friend, so much so that she dedicated the library building in 1941. Vladimir Nabokov visited GSWC and stayed with the Reades in 1942. Georgia artist Lamar Dodd was a student of Reade's, and spoke at commencement exercises in 1938, in addition to arranging fine arts exhibits. Actress Margaret Sullavan attended Reade's family summer camp for girls in Virginia and visited the Reades in Valdosta in the1930s.

Reade's tenure as president came to an end in April 1948, when he requested a leave of absence from the Board of Regents due to ill health. He expected to be gone only one year; however, his health did not improve and he retired in 1949. J. Ralph Thaxton succeeded Reade as the fourth president of GSWC.

Reade was named president emeritus of GSWC and made his home in Valdosta. He continued to be involved with the college. One of his activities was collecting autographed photos of celebrities, which he donated for students' benefit. These include Albert Einstein, Gen. George C. Marshall, Senator Richard B. Russell, and football star Jim Thorpe. Reade died on April 10, 1957, one week after suffering an "attack," presumably a heart attack or stroke. He is buried in Valdosta's Riverview Memorial Cemetery.


31.00 Boxes

3.0 items



Arrangement Note

This collection is indexed by subject headings. Scroll down to Digital Objects (not Subjects) and choose from list of headings.

The papers are divided into five series: Personal and Biographical, Board of Regents, Faculty, General Correspondence, and Special Topics.  Each series title below contains a link to a table of records for that series.

Personal and Biographical, Boxes 1-9:  This series includes materials on Frank and Jean Reade, their personal lives, his career and education prior to GSWC, personal correspondence, and papers by and about his relatives. These papers include manuscripts and published works by Reade and by his father Willoughby Reade, a manuscript of a published Civil War diary by Frank Smith Robertson, and a several scrapbooks of photographs, family history, and important events.  This series includes personal correspondence with Edith Bolling Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Stillwell Edwards, Lamar Dodd, Albert Einstein, Walter George, Jim Thorpe, and other notables of the day.  Mike Nelson, an animator at Disney Studios maintained a long correspondence with Reade which he illustrated with original drawings.  Numerous photographs are in this series, and realia such as Reade's baby curls, his yearbooks from Episcopal High School and University of Virginia.  Wills, Deeds and other official documents from the Reade-Robertson families are included.  Journals and books, some featuring Willoughby Reade's work are part of this series.  This series has earliest and latest items, with many in the early 1900's.

Board of Regents, Boxes 10-14:  The Board of Regents series includes correspondence between Reade and the various Chancellors and Regents during his tenure as president.  It's dates are 1933-1948.  Correspondents include Chancellor Philip Weltner, Chancellor S.V. Sanford, Raymond R. Paty, W. Wilson Noyes, L.R. Siebert, Judson Ward, Board of Regents, A. Hollis Edens, H.T. Healy, Pope Brock, Sandy Beaver, J.C. Dixon, and Dr. George Works.  Topics of interest in this series include the WPA projects at GSWC: Senior Hall (now Reade Hall), the Pool, the Library (now Powell Hall), and the Log Cabin.  During Reade's tenure the curriculum was examined and overhauled to create GSWC as a liberal arts college, and this series includes information about this study and results of the re-organization.  The college's 25th anniversary and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt's dedication of the library also appear in this correspondence.  Most of the correspondence, however, deals with the "nuts and bolts" of running the college.

Faculty, Boxes 15-18:  The faculty series includes contracts and correspondence with GSWC faculty members.  Many of the papers in this series were actually generated during the tenures of Drs. Powell and Pound, but evidently in the interest of continuity of the files they were kept together.  Use these files for all faculty members from the opening of the school in 1913 to the end of Reade's tenure in 1946.  Most files contain contracts only; however, faculty members who had served for a length of time, or who were somehow noteworthy or notorious had correspondence in their files.  Correspondents of note included Annie Powe Hopper, J. A. Durrenberger, J. R. Dusenbury, Marian Farber, Evelyn Deariso, Iva Chandler, Camm Campbell, Lena Hawks, Beatrice Nevins, Gertrude Gilmer Odum, Edith and Lillian Patterson, Mildred Price, Harold Punke,  Louise Sawyer, James R. Stokes, Caroline Parrish Thomas, James F. Wood.  This series also contains notes on the Curriculum committee and the changes recommended for each department.

General Correspondence, Boxes 19-21:  The general correspondence series contains communications ranging from letters with and about Eleanor Roosevelt to complaints to the local cab company about driving too fast.  The folders are arranged alphabetically by correspondent, and within the correspondence, chronologically.  Corresponents and topics of note include, Vladimir Nabokov, Eleanor Roosevelt, Willoughby Reade, the Whitehead Camellia Trail, Drexel Park, a kitchen fire, Reade's illness, WAAC recruiting on campus, the Carnegie Foundation, Harley Langdale and the American Turpentine Farmers Association, and Reade's manuscripts.  There is extensive correspondence with Cartter Lupton, an anonymous benefactor of the school during this period.  The correspondence described as "various business and personal correspondence" ranges from notes to students, faculty and fellow administrators at other schools to invitations, thank you letters, and personal notes.

Special Topics, Boxes 22-31:  This series is the longest and most involved of any in the collection.  Most of this series is correspondence, although speeches and papers, newspaper clippings, photographs, reports and programs are included.  Topics range from the college's WPA building program and it's curriculum revisions to information about food costs, ration books, and raises for the kitchen staff.  There are many correspondents of note: Eleanor Roosevelt; Thomas Munro, who worked on revising the curriculum; prominent southerners such as Cason Calloway approached on behalf of Episcopal High School, Vladimir Nabokov, and Ralph McGill of the Atlanta Journal /Constitution. This series includes correspondence with the president and other administrators of almost every college in the state.  Here also, correspondence illustrates his activities with many organizations and associations related to higher education, from the Association of Georgia Colleges-of which Reade was an officer, to The Association of American Universities.  His work with the War Bonds program and area leadership for the Georgia State Chapter for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and March of Dimes are here.  This series also includes correspondence with Georgia's governor's: Mr. & Mrs. M.E. Thompson, Ellis Arnall, Eugene Talmadge, and E.D. Rivers.  Correspondence relating to Budgeting, the campus building program, GSWC's relation to Moody Field, and to Emory Junior College provide insight on decisions of the time.  Valdosta in World War II is amply illustrated by letters on topics from food to international students to travel restrictions.  Reade's typical humor is evident in his attitude towards war-time travel restrictions: "Personally, I feel we would all do a lot better if we stayed at home and tried to solve some of our own problems, rather than all meeting somewhere and hearing some fellow make a speech about his problems."--FRR, 11/2/42. Of interest in the area of race relations in South Georgia are his letters to various historically black colleges on behalf of the children of GSWC workers.  Evidently there was a fund, administered by the president, that paid for these students to go to college.   Reade's and the college's work with federal agencies and programs such as the WPA, the National Youth Administration, and the Public Works Administration are amply documented here.  According to Reade, he was "the only man in captivity who has been asked to hurry--not once, but twice, by WPA."

Reade Data Base Index

Accruals and Additions

12/20/2000 initialed memo from Inman Grimsley, sending over memo to GSWC faculty, 1938 about hospitalization insurance for the faculty.

Processing Information

Processing Information: Partial support for this project came from the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board, The Georgia Archives, Office of the Secretary of State. Amy R. King of the VSU MLIS program and Deborah S. Davis, completed September 2003.

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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Revision Statements

  • 2020-07-07: Revised for DACS compliance by Douglas Carlson

Repository Details

Part of the Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Valdosta State University Archives, Odum Library
1500 N. Patterson St.
Valdosta GA 30601 United States
229-259-5055 (Fax)