Brown, Ralph Minthorne Papers

A Guide to the Ralph Minthorne Brown Papers, 1912-1946 Ms.1970.002


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Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu

John M. Jackson

Repository
Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech
Identification
Ms.1970.002
Title
Ralph Minthorne Brown Papers1925-1944
Quantity
2.3 Cubic Feet 5 boxes; 1 oversize folder
Creator
Brown, Ralph Minthorne, 1878-1958
Language
The materials in the collection are in English.
Abstract
This collection contains the papers of Ralph Minthorne Brown, Virginia Tech head librarian (1926-1947), amateur historian and naturalist. It includes materials on Virginia Tech and local history, including typed transcripts of sources gathered for an intended history of Virginia Tech. Also included are Brown's Blacksburg ornithological and weather observations, a bibliography of Matthew Fontaine Maury, and other writings.

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials. Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: http://bit.ly/scuareproduction. Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: http://bit.ly/scuapublication. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives (specref@vt.edu or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to research.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: [identification of item], [box], [folder], Ralph Minthorne Brown Papers, Ms1970-002 Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Source of Acquisition

The Ralph Minthorne Brown Papers were donated to Special Collections in 1970.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement and description of the Ralph Minthorne Brown Papers commenced in January 2008 and was completed in May 2008.


Biographical Note

Ralph Minthorne Brown, head librarian of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) from 1926 to 1947, was born at Fort Shaw, Montana, in 1878. He graduated from Cornell University in 1901 and served as a librarian in Chicago and Buffalo, New York before becoming chief of the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey's Division of Library and Archives in 1906. He remained in that position until serving as an ambulance driver in World War I. After the war, Brown worked as an editor for Rand McNally, then for Popular Mechanics, and finally as a librarian at North Dakota State College before arriving at Virginia Tech in 1926.

When not working, Brown indulged in his many personal interests, including poetry and genealogy; he was also an avid book collector, amateur historian and naturalist. During his time in Blacksburg, Brown actively collected and recorded the history of both Virginia Tech and the New River Valley, his chief accomplishment here perhaps being the compilation of V.P.I. Historical Index, 1872-1942. Other projects included legislative histories of both the school and Blacksburg as well as a bibliography of Matthew Fontaine Maury. Brown's interest in nature led him to keep and compile notes on local ornithological and weather observations. He frequently presented talks on these and other subjects to campus and community groups.

Brown retired from Virginia Tech in 1947 and died in Tulsa, Oklahoma on November 30, 1958, survived by one daughter.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the papers of Ralph Minthorne Browne, head librarian at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1926-1947), amateur historian, naturalist, and genealogist. The papers include such materials as transcripts of historical documents, notes, correspondence and printed materials.

(NOTE: Many of the folder titles in this collection contain two sets of dates (e.g., "'Volume I: Presidents and Boards of Visitors, 1872-1944' 1925-1944"). Where two sets of dates are shown, the first set of dates are those to which the material within the folder relates, the second date set shows the years during which the information was actually compiled.)

Arrangement

Subseries A: V.P.I. History, 1924-1944. This subseries contains typescript copies of material assembled by Brown in anticipation of a published history of Virginia Tech. It includes information about the board of visitors (both the body and its individual members), as well as a university chronology, bibliography, legislative history, and data gleaned from newspapers, university bulletins, and other published sources. Arranged in a rough chronological order. Subseries B: V.P.I. Index, 1938-1946. Within this subseries are several versions of Brown's V.P.I. Index (eventually published as Bulletin of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, vol. 35, no. 12) each containing handwritten updates and corrections. The index provides a history of the school, arranged by subject, and referrals to other sources for more information. Arranged chronologically by date of compilation or revision. Subseries C: Subject files, 1872-1946. Arranged alphabetically, this subseries contains materials gleaned from various sources by Brown regarding various aspects of Virginia Tech history. The files relate not only to the school's institutional history, but specific topics as well, including buildings, funding, and legislative history. Of particular interest, perhaps, is a file relating to activities and programs on campus during World War II. The RavenBlacksburg (Virginia) Weather, 1893-1944 Bulletin of the Virginia Polytechnic InstituteBibliography of Matthew Fontaine MauryBulletin of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Related Material

Brown's papers as head librarian of Virginia Tech may be found in Record Group 23/1. Several of Brown's works (mostly cataloged typescripts) may be found through an author search in the University Libraries' catalog.

Separated Material

Four files relating to Brown's official duties as Virginia Tech's head librarian were transferred to University Archives Record Group 23/1. File subjects included library inventories (1912-1939); library staff (1926-1946); supplies and equipment (1939-1940); and talks delivered by Brown on various library-related subjects (1933-1943).


Subjects and Indexing Terms

  • Blacksburg (Va.)
  • Faculty
  • Local/Regional History and Appalachian South
  • Montgomery County (Va.)
  • University History
  • Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute (1896-1944)
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute (1944-1970)

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Ralph Minthorne Brown Papers by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/).

Container List

SERIES I: VIRGINIA TECH HISTORY
1925-1944
  • Subseries A: V.P.I. History
    1924-1944
    • box 1 folder: 1
      "Volume I: Presidents and Boards of Visitors, 1872-1944"
      1925-1944
      [3 folders]
    • box 1 folder: 2
      "Volume II: 1872-1889"
      1925-1944
      [5 folders]
    • box 1 folder: 3
      "Volume III: 1890-1903"
      1925-1944
      [4 folders][see also Box 2, Folder 1]
    • box 2 folder: 1
      "Volume III: 1890-1903"
      1925-1944
      [see also Box 2, Folder 3]
    • box 2 folder: 2
      "Volume IV: 1904- "
      1925-1944
      [5 folders]
  • Subseries B: V.P.I. Index
    1938-1946
    • "V.P.I. Historical Index, October 1, 1872 to December 31, 1938"
      box 2 folder: 31938
      [typescript with handwritten revisions of [1939]]
    • box 2 folder: 4
      "V.P.I. Historical Index, October 1, 1872 to December 31, 1938"
      1938
      [typescript with handwritten revisions of [1941]]
    • box 3 folder: 1
      "V.P.I. Historical Index, October 1, 1872 to December 31, 1941"
      [1942?]
      [typescript]
    • box 3 folder: 2
      "V.P.I. Historical Index, October 1, 1872 to December 31, 1941"
      1942
      [includes handwritten revisions and accompanied by typescript errata and supplement]
    • box 3 folder: 3
      "V.P.I. Historical Index Supplement, January 1, 1942 to July 31, 1946"
      [1946]
      [typescript]
  • Subseries C: Subject files
    1872-1946
    • box 3 folder: 4
      Agricultural and industrial education history
      1927-1932, n.d.
    • box 3 folder: 5
      Alumni association officers
      1890-1944
    • box 3 folder: 6
      Athletics, Intercollegiate
      1936
    • box 3 folder: 7
      Biographical references
      ca.1900-1930
    • box 3 folder: 8
      Block and Bridle Club
      1936
    • box 3 folder: 9
      Buildings and grounds
      1920-1941
    • box 3 folder: 10
      Chaplains
      1891-1941
    • box 3 folder: 11
      Corps of Cadets controversy
      1942
    • box 3 folder: 12
      Engineering (Norris, E. B., "A Short history of engineering at V.P.I.")
      1939
    • box 3 folder: 13
      Entomology (Jefferson, Roland Newton, "The Teaching of entomology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute")
      1942
    • box 3 folder: 14
      Federal and state receipts
      1872-1946
    • box 3 folder: 15
      Federal and state allotments to VPI under the Smith-Hughes Vocational Education Act
      1917-1938
    • box 3 folder: 16
      Interest and sinking funds
      1896-1946
    • box 3 folder: 17
      Land Grant College Fund
      n.d.
    • box 3 folder: 18
      Legislative history, 1872-1945
      1945
    • box 3 folder: 19
      McBryde, J. M. - letter to "Mr. Glass"
      1904
    • box 3 folder: 20
      Necrology
      1917-1942
    • box 3 folder: 21
      Phillips, Ulrich B., "The Historic civilization of the South" talk at V.P.I.
      1931-1938
    • box 3 folder: 22
      Radford-VPI merger
      1944
    • box 3 folder: 23
      Second Virginia Volunteer Infantry regimental band
      n.d.
    • box 3 folder: 24
      Serial publications
      1872-1937
    • box 3 folder: 25
      Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College
      1872-1894
    • box 3 folder: 26
      World War II
      1940-1944, n.d.
      [see also Oversize Materials]
SERIES II: LOCAL HISTORY
1926-1944
  • box 4 folder: 1
    "Augusta County deeds, 1749-1769"
    1943
  • box 4 folder: 2
    Black family of Montgomery County
    n.d.
  • box 4 folder: 3
    "Blacksburg Business and Professional Men and Women and Business Firms, 1819-1941"
    1942
  • box box-folder: 4 folder: 4
    "Blacksburg legislative history, 1798-1934"
    n.d.
  • box 4 folder: 5
    Blacksburg miscellanea
    1935-1944
  • box 4 folder: 6
    Blacksburg town spring
    1932
  • box 4 folder: 7
    "Botetourt County deeds, 1770-1785"
    1943
  • box 4 folder: 8
    Christiansburg history (Crush, Charles W., "Early Days in Christiansburg")
    1940
  • box 4 folder: 9
    Civil War
    1942, n.d.
  • box 4 folder: 10
    Coal mines
    1942-1943
  • box 4 folder: 11
    Draper's Meadows
    1926, n.d.
  • box 4 folder: 12
    "Fincastle County land surveys, 1772-1775"
    1943
  • box 4 folder: 13
    Geology
    1935-1944, n.d.
  • box 4 folder: 14
    "Montgomery County deeds, 1750-1800"
    1943
  • box 4 folder: 15
    Montgomery County miscellanea
    1935-1944
  • box 4 folder: 16
    Roads and trails
    1937-1943, n.d.
    Scope and Contents note

    [see also Wilderness Road]

  • box 4 folder: 17
    Shot tower (Jackson's Ferry)
    1936
  • box 4 folder: 18
    Smithfield
    1931-1942
  • box 4 folder: 19
    Springs, Mineral
    1932-1944, n.d.
  • box 4 folder: 20
    Virginia fairs
    1937
  • box 4 folder: 21
    Wilderness Road
    1931-1943
    [4 folders]
SERIES III: NATURE
1926-1933
  • Bird observations
    • box 4 folder: 221926-1933
    • box 4 folder: 231934-1939
    • box 5 folder: 11940-1946, n.d.
  • box 5 folder: 2
    Blacksburg (Virginia) Weather, 1893-1944
    1945
  • box 5 folder: 3
    Nature camps
    1940-1944, n.d.
  • box 5 folder: 4
    Talks and writings
    1930-1944, n.d.
SERIES IV: GENERAL INTERESTS
1930-1947
  • box 5 folder: 5
    Matthew Fontaine Maury
    1930-1947
  • box 5 folder: 6
    Talks and writings
    1930-1933
  • box 5 folder: 7
    "Verses [by] Ralph M. Brown"
    1932
OVERSIZE MATERIALS
  • oversize folder: 1
    U. S. war bonds poster
    1944