President Thomas Alva Early

by Dean Duncan-Morin

Thomas Alva Early was the first of seven recorded children of George Peter Early and Mattie J. Nolen Early, born in Water Valley, Yalobusha County, Mississippi on August 28, 1881. He attended public school in Mississippi and then graduated from the University of Georgia. After, he returned to Mississippi to act as Superintendent of schools for Yalobusha County. There, he was contacted by Seaman A. Knapp, a prominent agronomist and innovator of farm demonstration work. Early caught Knapp’s attention for his work promoting agricultural clubs in the Yalobusha school district, and following Knapp’s death in 1911, helped organize and raise funds for the Knapp School for Country Life and Peabody College in 1913-1914. During this time, he joined the University of Georgia Agricultural Extension Department, establishing extension programs throughout Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Through this work, he connected with many wealthy and affluent individuals throughout the Lower and Lower Middle Appalachian region, who later helped him in his contest for the position of President of the newly formed Tennessee Polytechnic Institute (Tech), in early 1916.

Acrylic portrait on canvas of Thomas Alva Early painted by M.L. Stone in 1960. This picture was painted for Tennessee Tech and details of hair and eye color were provided by government records.

Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, a new technical school in Cookeville, Tenn., began its peculiar and extremely tenuous existence from its conception on the state Senate floor in early 1915. In 1914, Cookeville politicians and spokespersons, spurred by the passage of the 1909 General Education Bill establishing three state normal schools, or schools for teaching teachers, began advocating for a fourth state normal school in Cookeville. Cookeville advocates encountered fierce resistance from the administrative heads of the previously established normal schools, who felt that their exclusive privileges as state colleges would be diluted by a fourth teaching college. Advocates for the new school proposed establishing a technical and agricultural school instead, given the rural nature of the region. While this did not particularly calm the misgivings of those incensed against its founding, it convinced legislators of its benefit; on March 27, 1915, Governor Thomas C. Rye passed the legislation establishing the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, using the now defunct Dixie College as its campus. Even though the bill passed the legislature, school administration from the other state normal schools were dead set on the repeal of its establishing legislation. And so, with the formative decisions regarding the fledgling Tech being closely watched by those seeking its downfall, a President needed to be hired to guide the institute’s first steps.

Having heard through word of mouth that the newly established technical institute was looking for someone to helm the position of President, Early sent word to Putnam County Superintendent J. M. Hatfield on Feb. 21, 1916 of his accomplishments and desire for the position. Early’s influential Nashville friends convinced members of the Board of Education that he was the best person for the job, and by late March, he was the first President of Tennessee Tech.  Within the month, the new President put together a list of professors to staff the school. This alone placed his stamp on the school forever, molding each department as he saw fit by whom he placed at its head. This action, however, according to Tech Historian Austin Wheeler Smith, eventually led to internal conflicts that resulted in Early’s later removal from the position in 1920. Smith purported that Early’s educational background in vocational and industrial work placed him at odds with the liberal arts and master’s degreed professors that he appointed as the various departments’ heads, particularly the man he appointed as Dean of English, Charles Denson Daniels.

Image description:
Early’s correspondence regarding his self-appointment as President of Tennessee Polytechnic Institute.

Although his time in office was short, Early was an integral player in Tech’s formative years. He was crucial to the survival of the institution, especially in the case of raising funds, as Tech had financial troubles for many years after its founding. Early was intimately involved in the campus culture and the lives of the students. They frequently corresponded with him regarding assistance or updating him on their life. For instance, in one case he sought accommodations for a student to stay in Cookeville so that she may attend Tech. His two most meaningful achievements came during the end of World War I. Early wanted to use Tech to assist the war effort. On September 30, 1918, Early received permission from the Department of War to establish a War Training School with a detachment of the Student’s Army Training Corp.

Image description:
Letter from Thomas Alva Early to Mrs. Dora Allen, detailing his plans to discuss with the citizens of Cookeville about the furnishing of accommodations for Mrs. Allen’s daughter, Gladys.

His second achievement, a rehabilitative vocational school, came to fruition after he had been removed from office, but he did see it in its early stages. Early suggested the school in 1918 for the wounded soldiers that would soon come back from the European conflict, but the Board declined his idea. In 1919, recently elected Governor Albert Roberts, further initiated Early’s idea, and requested that a rehabilitation school be built at Tech on September 23 of that year. While Tech terminated Early in 1920, the rehabilitation school survived, and on July 1, 1920, a day after Early left office, 60 veterans arrived at Tech to learn vocational skills for reintegration into society.

Early’s presidency ended unfortunately due to running afoul of some powerful Nashvillians late in his term; particularly, the new Governor, Albert Roberts, elected in 1919. Early himself suspected that Roberts wanted him removed from the position, a claim he supported with the split vote on his termination being between members of the Board appointed by the previous Governor and members appointed by Roberts. Austin Wheeler Smith purported that it may have been due to Early’s support of former Governor Thomas C. Rye that drew Governor Roberts’ ire. Tension from within and without led to the resignation of Dean Daniels in the Summer of 1919, which then prompted Early to submit his resignation for the next year on September 16, 1919. Sometime between the filing of his resignation and his departure, Early withdrew his resignation, which the State Board of Education responded by firing Early and all his administrative faculty but one on June 30, 1920. As almost an insult to injury on the way out on June 22, the newly appointed Putnam County Superintendent Albert Williams accused Early of embezzling $400 dollars from the U.S. government, but there is no concrete recorded evidence supporting this claim.

Image Description:
An article in the Putnam County Herald in which Thomas Alva Early defends himself against accusations of embezzlement of funds from the U.S. government, July 1, 1920.

After his term as president, Early became a bank liquidator for the Grenada Banking System, later becoming its vice president. On July 5, 1939, Thomas Alva Early died in his sleep in Greenwood, Leflore County, Mississippi. He may rest easy knowing that all of his efforts have paid off over a century later.


(1920, July, 1) Putnam County Herald. [Documents curated and collected by Christine Spivey Jones]. Christine Spivey Jones Papers (RG 116, Box 14, Folder 26). Tennessee Tech University Archives

(1917-1920) [Faculty minutes of the faculty of TTU from 1916 to 1931]. Faculty Minutes, 1916-1931 (Acc#2022-0070, Box 1, Folder 1). Tennessee Tech University Archives

(1920, July, 1) [Presidential papers of Quintin Miller Smith]. University Presidential Papers (RG 9, Series 1, Box 37, Folder 5). Tennessee Tech University Archives

Early, Thomas Alva, (1917-1918) [Presidential papers of Thomas Alva Early]. University Presidential Papers (RG 9, Series 6, Box 102, Folder 2). Tennessee Tech University Archives

Early, Thomas Alva, (1916) [Correspondence between Thomas Alva Early and J. M. Hatfield]. J.M. Hatfield Papers (RG 69, Box 1, Folder 1). Tennessee Tech University Archives


Neufeldt, H. G., & Dickinson, W. C. (1991). The Search for Identity: A History of Tennessee Technological University, 1915-1985. Memphis State University Press.

Smith, A. W. (1957). The Story of Tennessee Tech. McQuiddy Print. Co.

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Renovating and Reinventing Research in the Archives’ Facility

The last time Tech Archives discussed a construction project, we were seeking funding for a storage facility. Though not very glamorous, it was essential in terms of preservation, growing, and protecting our collection and future collections. The Archives has expanded significantly since 2020, including a new digitization studio for scanning and digitization equipment; large format paper cutters to make preservation boxes more cost-efficient; cold storage for materials that are better preserved in freezing temperatures; and additional Archives personnel to continue service to patrons and make our materials more accessible online. The Archives now hosts a course in the History Department, HIS 3420 Archives Management and Research, which teaches how to find, use, and preserve historical materials. These vast changes have created some growing pains in our space, which was built and designed for two people in 1985.

Mancil Johnson, Tennessee Tech’s first archivist.

The current space includes two work rooms and one room previously used for storage. It provided ample room for the two earliest archive employees, Mancil Johnson and Christine Spivey Jones. There was little need for offices since both employees had their own room. Both have since retired, but the employee numbers have only grown since. There are currently three and soon-to-be four archive employees all sharing large community spaces, but the Archives also hosts approximately six student workers and interns a semester. This number multiplies by three when the History Class is in session or when any other college class or community group decides to visit or attend a class in the Archives. This poses challenges for both the Archives’ employees and researchers, who need to use the Archives, but also need a quiet place to work without interruption.

The reading room on a quiet Thursday morning with a research area and four workstations.

This challenge has led us to reconsider the space’s design and use, in order to optimize its functionality. We have determined the best “new look” and “new use” for the Archives is to redesign our three spaces into two functional spaces. The first is a formal, more traditional library reading room. This space will have reading lamps and a ladder and a bookshelf displaying rare books and artifacts. The reading room will serve as a quiet place for researchers to perform research, which is the purpose of traditional reading rooms. The second space will be used for normal archive functions such as preservation equipment, freezer storage, housing supplies, and offices, but it will also have a classroom with seating for up to twenty-four with a television. The new design will enable the Archives to host student and community groups, provide hands-on experiences with historic documents and archival work for these groups, and allow us to host our events on-site. It also provides many students and community members with their first visit to an archive facility and hopefully, not the last.

Multipurpose room including supplies, preservation equipment, three workstations (two behind shelves), and accession intake.

If you are interested in learning more about this project contact us at If you are interested in contributing, follow this link and be sure to say you would like your funding to go to our new facility.

Thank you!

Megan Atkinson

University Archivist

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Myrtis Leonard Conry Ledger and Diary

by Julia Peacock

Portrait of Myrtis Conry

In her ledger, Myrtis Leonard Conry recounts the joys and sorrows of her day-to-day life. A wife, mother, family manager, and community member, Myrtis took immense pride and joy in her life, the difficulties are (almost) all recorded here in her 78 diary entries. One unique thing about this book is that it was first a ledger account for the Tennessee Polytechnic Institute (T.P.I.) Farm that her husband, Joseph E. Conry, ran for the school. It also served as a personal ledger for her family’s expenses. Myrtis then repurposed the book as a diary and recorded 78 diary entries ranging from 1928 to 1938. At the end of her ledger, she recorded her family history back to her four-times great grandfather who came to America in the 1750s. She wrote primarily in blue or black pen, however, there are some entries written in pencil. There are many things to love when reading her entries. She was sweet, kind, and caring, but could also be very sassy when she wanted to be—traits that are also seen in her stories about her two children; Joseph Enoch Conry Jr. born 1923, and her daughter Myrtis Irene Conry born 1926. The entries start in 1928 when her kids were five and two.  

She started her diary in 1928 as a New Year’s resolution, and I certainly cannot fault her for the inconsistencies and time gaps in her entries. She called herself out almost every new year for her jumps, in 1932 she exclaimed, “How wonderful the spirits have moved me to write again in my diary on New Year’s Day! After six months of a busy, challenging, year, we are again ready to settle down to another year of living” (p. 55). In January 1921, Myrtis married Joseph E. Conry. On almost every anniversary she recounts her wedding day and what they did to celebrate the anniversary. She remembers the day so fondly that she writes about it twice almost verbatim, and later calls herself out for the repetition. One year, she added a sketch of the house they were married in. 

Myrtis Conry’s sketch of the house where she married Joseph Conry.

Myrtis Conry was highly active in her community. Throughout these 10 years of accounts, she was president of the Book Lovers Club and the Parent Teacher Association. She was also the secretary for the Local Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter as well as a member of many other clubs and organizations like the Thursday Afternoon Club, the Mothers Club, and more. She graduated from T.P.I in 1929 with a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics, but her main passion was reading. Her diary contains around 30 titles of books she read throughout her entries. In an early entry she mentions President Quinten Miller Smith pulling a book she was reading, Will Durant’s Story of Philosophy, from the shelves at the library in 1928—shortly after the Butler Act— because it contained, “too many radical statements on anti-evolution” (p. 7). She comments on a few political topics too; for example, she discusses prohibition and the Hoover versus Smith election, as well as Tennessee’s funding for public education and the financial state of the great depression. In addition to books, she often talks about radio broadcasts. It was extremely cool to see her casually mention historical events like Pope Pius XI’s first broadcast, Benito Mussolini’s first address to the American people, and perhaps the coolest, the Abdication of Edward VIII. She remarks, “The Tolling of Big Ben seemed the funeral Kneel of the British empire” (p. 85).

She also talks about some notable happenings on campus, like when the college became a four-year university when they finished the original president’s house, and the completion of other buildings like the science building—now the T.J. Farr building and home to the Department of Education. The Conry’s were friends with many couples whose names have since been immortalized on our campus, among those are the Farrs, Fosters, Overalls, and Hendersons. They had many bridge games and dinner parties with these couples, and they all were great friends. 

Myrtis Conry on Tennessee Polytechnic Institute campus in 1921.

Her diary takes place during the Great depression. The Conry’s were not directly affected by it until about 1932 when she comments that it had been six months since they had received a salary and how that has affected their social life. They had fewer parties and only had close friends like the Farrs and Hendersons over for Sunday dinners. A few months later their situation improved, and they bought a new washing machine. She remarks that it was the first time she had ever done her own laundry. While money was tight for her during this time, she was still doing very well compared to some of her other friends; she writes about receiving a letter from her friend Stella, who had moved to West Virginia for a job, which ultimately fell through leaving her penniless. Myrtis shares her feelings about Stella’s predicament but does not mention what becomes of her after her second “unhappy letter.”

Throughout her entries, she records the various illnesses and death of friends and family. She writes in detail about the funeral of Mayor Jere Whitson in 1928, and about hearing the memorial service of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and former President William Howard Taft in 1930. When friends and family write to her about illnesses or deaths, she is sure to record every detail. In one entry she describes how one of their farm hands/boarders got attacked by a boar the September before he came to stay with them, and how he required 33 stitches and survived “Blood Poison” without having to lose his leg. In her last entry, she details a strange dream she had a few days before where she thought she saw her daughter lying in a casket. Myrtis then writes in equal detail about the terrible train crash that her friend Gladys Castleman Crawford was in that injured Gladys and killed her young daughter, Barbara Jean. She recounts a chilling déjà vu experienced when seeing Barbara Jean in the casket. 

I found so many interesting things in her diary, from the little quips about her family or friends to the descriptions of her party foods. Myrtis Conry’s diary is filled with many interesting stories about life on campus in the 1930s. The archives have this ledger along with family papers, photos, and diplomas. The archives also have three other diaries from 1949, 1950, and 1954, which are sure to be filled with more interesting tales following the end of World War II.

Here is the digitized ledger.

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The Preservation Tree

2022 Preservation Tree

Tennessee Tech Archives participates annually in the Christmas Forest exhibit at the Cookeville History Museum.  The archive creates a tree that represents work that was performed in the archive that year and they combine the work with a little bit of creativity.  This year, the Christmas tree depicts ornaments that represent a small part of the preservation process that archivists perform during archival “processing.” Processing is a general word to describe how archivists make materials available to users and involves a set of tasks including arranging, describing, rehousing, and performing preservation on archival materials. Preservation, unlike conservation, involves removing harmful materials, such as metal fasteners, or rehousing archival materials into new housing, such as acid-free folders and boxes, to prevent further deterioration of the materials. Preservation is minimally invasive and does not involve altering the physical materials; whereas conservation may involve physically altering/changing materials.

The ornaments on the tree are all made with binder clips and paper clips removed by archive intern Julia Peacock while processing the papers of the famed American tuba player and professor, R. Winston Morris. Archives also removes staples during preservation work, which can be grueling. These tedious tasks remove the potential for rust to form from the metal on the unique materials and preserves the materials for the future with less risk of deterioration. All DIY ornaments on the tree are made by employees in the library and archive interns.

These are examples/images of the ornaments created with the paperclips and binder clips in the collection and they include the supplies needed for the ornaments if you want to make them at home!

Two large paperclips, string, six small popsicle sticks, wire cutters to cut popsicle sticks, and a glue gun.
Twelve white, large-hole beads, eight blue, large-hole beads, blue thread, one wooden large-hole bead, gold thread, a large paperclip, natural twine, and blue thread for the robe.
Two colors of felt-any color, one-inch snowflake sequin, embroidery thread, a paperclip, pliers to bend the paperclip, and a sewing needle.
One large paperclip, a red ribbon, a large-holed yellow star bead, seventeen large-hole green beads, and pliers to bend the paperclip.
Two pieces of felt-any color, with thread to match, two small pom poms, embroidery thread, and one large paperclip.
Ten binder clips, these instructions, and an infinite amount of patience.

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Cybernation and the Punch Card at Tennessee Tech 

Tennessee Tech Archives recently received a relic from the past— IBM punch cards (Image 1). These paper-based, 7 3/8 by 3 ¼ inch cards were the primary means of programming computer instruction, performing data input, and storing data beginning in the late 19th century through to the mid- 20th century.  

Punch cards used by Engineering students for programming and equations.

Punch cards originated in the 1880s when United States census clerk Herman Hollerith developed punch cards and the tabulating machine to assist the United States Census in 1890. Hollerith’s idea was grounded in the inventions of weaver and merchant Joseph Marie Jacquard, who used punch cards to automate steam-powered looms, and mathematician Charles Babbage, who designed a polynomial calculating machine using punch cards. Player pianos also used a type of punch card technology, where rolls of music with holes would indicate the note played on the piano, as did punched train tickets.  

Hollerith’s invention enabled the government to complete the 1890 census in two years instead of the historic eight years using his innovations. The tabulating machine used mercury-lined pins, which traveled through the punch cards’ round holes to complete electrical circuits. Results registered on a counter board. Hollerith recognized the impact his invention had on saving time and money, and in 1896, turned his invention into a business, the Tabulating Machine Company. By 1911, the Tabulating Machine Company merged, and the resulting businesses eventually became International Business Machines, or IBM, in 1924.  

With new and faster means to capture and store data, companies and businesses requested more data. IBM responded and revised its punch cards to include 80 columns that used rectangular holes instead of circular ones in 1928. Many punch cards came printed with what became a familiar phrase, “Do not spindle, fold, or mutilate.” IBM improved punch card technology again when it made punches “electrographic” or “Mark Sense,” allowing for pencil-marked cards to be changed into punch cards.  

The first documented use of punch card-type technology on campus began in 1959 when the Department of Engineering purchased an analog computer for differential equations at a price of $5,000. In October 1959, Engineering Science built a new computer laboratory that included a desk calculating machine, an IBM 610 personal digital computer, and three electronic analog computers. The early computer laboratory was in Henderson Hall and shared its space with a subcritical reactor supplied with 5,500 pounds of nuclear fuel provided by the Atomic Energy Commission! Later, in 1963, punch card technology’s use expanded on campus enough that the University created positions for statistical services and IBM operator, which by 1966 became the IBM Tabulating and Statistical Services Department coordinated by J. Pate Pointer.  

These new computer laboratories provided spaces to accommodate for Tennessee Tech University’s changing curriculum initiated by computers. By 1958, the University began offering computer classes in its Engineering Science Program including the “Principles of Digital Computers,” and “Digital Computer Laboratory,” a class that required students to program and code one math problem using the IBM 610, which used punched tape— a type of punch card technology. The punch cards seen here are a sample of punch cards being used to solve complex equations by engineering students. The information needed to be added correctly and the card order needed to be precise for the computer to work efficiently.  

D.W. Mattson computer lab with IBM 1710

During the Christmas holiday of 1964, Tennessee Tech completed Clement Hall, the new engineering building. It provided space for the D.W. Mattson Computer Center, named after the Chair of Civil Engineering, who pushed for the facility. The computer center cost $350,000 and included two IBM 1620 digital computers, an IBM 1311 Disk File System, an IBM 1710, two keypunches, a collator, an alphabetic interpreter, a reproduction punch, and an auto plotter (Odom, 1). The IBM 1710 reportedly held two-million digits (0 or 1) of information. The lab assisted student education but was also for campus-wide activities such as grading, surveying, testing, payroll, automating alumni records, sectioning for registration, preparing housing reports, research, and data analysis. The Associated Student Body used punch cards in their 1964 elections; the ROTC designed a program to improve supply orders; and in 1965, the IBM 1710 was even used to pick dance partners for a school formal. The annual report for engineering in 1964 described the computer center and new computers as completing work faster than previously and making more complex data processing tasks possible.  

Computer lab card punching machine, 1968
Punch cards being entered for registration, 1964

Also, in 1964, Tennessee Tech implemented the IBM punch card system for registration using computer sectioning. Prior to this, registration was done manually, but better automation was necessary to provide for the nationwide phenomenon of increased enrollment on college campuses due to social and political changes, such as the GI Bill or the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Registration took 30 minutes for most students that year, and 3,291 students registered using the method.  

The IBM tagline, “Do not spindle, fold, or mutilate,” printed on most IBM cards, was a small issue in comparison to the many headaches punch cards created; however, the punch cards were still more efficient than previous methods. Overall, punch cards needed to be handled carefully. The order of the cards mattered when performing programs and required numerous cards. The “punches” also needed to be filled in appropriately. If incorrect, the user started again on a new card.  

After using the IBM 1710 for registration in March of 1965, students spoke about the system saying, “If I had been more careful, I would have been able to complete registration within an hour,” and “…IBM registration is efficient and well worth the trouble.” Many students commended the computer, but others felt it was difficult and wanted it to have more capabilities. Early programming did not accommodate for exceptions, redundant data, scholarships, full classes, professor preferences, and overlapping times, amongst other things. Computer programs did what they were told to do and if a solution was needed for a distinct set of circumstances, it needed to be created (via punch card programming of course). One computer software did not necessarily run on another type of computer. Despite some issues with registration experienced by some students, the software completed the course cards in 30 hours.  

Punch cards were on campus for many years following their early initiation. In 1987, Dr. Hoyle Lawson and Dr. Robert Craighead developed computer registration using an Optical Mark Reading System, an idea based on the University of Georgia’s system. At the time, Tennessee Tech’s punch card system was wearing out and the University required a new system. 

Registration table in 1964 with punch cards

Tennessee Tech’s use of the punch cards system came at an opportune time in the university’s history. Tennesse Tech just changed its name from Tennessee Polytechnic Institute to Tennessee Technological University in 1965, emphasizing the future of the university’s technology and engineering programs. The computer and punch cards were part of the transition, leading Tennessee Technological University into the computer age. With punch cards and computers in place, campus employees devoted more time to tasks rather than data processing, were able to explore data using methods unattainable manually, had better control of their data, and could perform data tasks faster, and for less money.  

Photographs showing punch card technology in use on campus 

Student completing Mark Sense punch card during registration, 1964

Photo Services, Engineering Labs, Box 48, Folder 44, April 1963. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Nuclear Labs, Box 48, Folder 148, November 1962. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Registration (Spring), Box 105, Folder 44, 1964. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Registration — Winter Quarter), Box 105, Folder 46, January 4, 1964. Accessed November 16, 2022.  

Photo Services, Nuclear reactor lab, Box 48, Folder 134, October 14, 1965. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Analog Computer Lab, Box 48, Folder 135, June 1965. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Computer lab, Box 48, Folder 139, February 9, 1965. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Analog computer lab, Box 48, Folder 121, April 1966. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Computer lab, Box 48, Folder 123, April 1966. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Gary Rice working in Electrical Engineering lab, Box 48, Folder 123, September 19, 1967. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Computer Lab-Card Punching Machine, Box 48, Folder 88, April 1968. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Registration, Box 105, Folder 25, September 18, 1969. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Women Engineer majors working in Electrical Engineering Lab, Box 48, Folder 2, January 1, 1974. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Systems Lab and Keypunch Computer (Engineering), Box 48, Folder 20, November 21, 1974. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Registration, Box 105, Folder 25, September 18, 1969. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Photo Services, Registration — IBM — Spring, Box 105, Folder 45, 1964. Accessed November 16, 2022. 

Resources and Further Readings 

“Albert L. Duke,” The Oracle, Vol. 35 No. 13 April 11, 1958, Accessed November 15, 2022. 

Black, Edwin. 2012. IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America’s most Powerful Corporation. 2nd ed. Highland Park, Michigan: Dialog Press. 

The Bulletin, Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, 1958, Accessed November 17, 2022. 

The Bulletin, 1959-1960, Tennessee Technological University. Accessed November 15, 2022. 

The Bulletin, Tennessee Technological University, 1966, Accessed November 15, 2022. 

Carpenter, Ann. Computers to Arrange Schedules for Spring Quarter Registrants, The Oracle, Vol. 41, No. 9b, February 21, 1964. Accessed November 15, 2022. 

Computer Punch Cards Historical Overview – IBM Remington Rand UNIVAC – History Archives, # CH-0093. Computer History Project, 2015. Accessed November 15, 2022. 

Data Processing: An Introduction. Directed by Peter D. Abrams. Computer History Project, 1972. Accessed November 15, 2022. Computer History 1964-1972:  DATA PROCESSING An Introduction  (IBM 360, Mag Tape, Punch Cards) 

The Eagle yearbook, Tennessee Technological University, 1987, Accessed November 15, 2022. 

Endsley, Lorraine. “Registration Aided with Computer, The Oracle, Vol. 41, No. 12. Accessed November 15, 2022. Accessed November 15, 2022, 

Engineering Annual Report 1964-1965, Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, Accessed November 17, 2022.   

French, Charles O. “How to Vote: IBM Cards used as Ballots,” The Oracle, Vol. 41, No. 13, April 10, 1964, Accessed November 17, 2022. 

Grover, Arland L. “A Study of the Development and use of Computer Class -Sectioning in Selected Universities to Determine the Implications and Feasibility of Implementing a Computer-Type Program for the University of Wyoming.” Order No. DP14878, University of Wyoming, 1967.

Heard, Serena. “Science, Engineering Get Emphasis,” The Oracle, Vol. 37, No. 1, October 2, 1959. Accessed November 15, 2022. 

Huddleston, Christy. A Brief History and Chronology of the Tennessee Technological University College of Engineering, 1915-2011, Tennessee Technological University, 2011. 

 “The IBM Punched Card.” IBM’s 100 Icons of Progress., last modified February 25, 2011, accessed November 15, 2022. 

Marshall, Pat. “The Students Speak: Registration Delays Seen Unavoidable; ‘renowned machine’ marked scapegoat,” The Oracle, Vol. 42 No. 2 October 9, 1964, Accessed November 15, 2022. 

Odom, Carolyn. “Departments, schools move,” The Oracle, Vol. 41, No.16, April 4, 1964. Accessed November 15, 2022. 

“The Punched Card Tabulator.” IBM’s 100 Icons of Progress., last modified July 12, 2011, accessed November 15, 2022.

“Registration Line Draws Complaints,” The Oracle, Vol. 41 No. 7, January 10, 1964. Accessed November 15, 2022. 

Simmons, Robert. “Engineers give class in IBM programming,” The Oracle, Vol. 40 No. 9, February 8, 1963. Accessed on November 17, 2022. 

Thompson, Betsye. “Computer work done by Tech Students,” The Oracle, Vol. 42 No. 9b, February 12, 1965. 

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Coach P.V. Overall Collection and Scrapbook

Tech Archives recently received a scrapbook owned by Malcolm P. “Mutt” Quillen (1910-1995), a Tennessee Tech football, baseball, basketball, and track star, and later coach and administrator. Malcolm Patterson “Pat” Quillen, his son, donated the scrapbook to Tech Archives. For Tech Archives, the scrapbook filled a gap in a smaller collection of scrapbooks it held highlighting the career and retirement celebration of the famed Coach P.V. (Putty) Overall. The scrapbooks, created presumably by Overall, contain news clippings, correspondence, photographs, and various Tennessee Polytechnic Institute football ephemera such as programs and schedules dating from 1934-1974. Overall gave the one scrapbook to Malcolm P. “Mutt” Quillen because the scrapbook highlighted Malcolm’s years when he played for Tennessee Tech.

Preston Vaughn (P.V.) “Putty” Overall (1897-1974) was born in Snell, Tennessee. Overall served in World War I in the Company “C,” 516th Army Engineers.  He began his sports career at Middle Tennessee Normal School, later Middle Tennessee State University. He attended and graduated George Peabody College and lettered in football at Vanderbilt in 1921. He went on to work shortly at Livingston Academy in 1922 with Helen Marie Blanchard, whom he married in 1923.

From the Chattanooga Times, October 16, 1960-Front Row, Left to Right: Noel B. Rickman, Jess R. Clark, Alva D. Starnes, Merrill Hughes, and Charles L. Johnson. Second Row: Coach Overall, Hunter Hill, Emmett Smartt, Lloyd Seay, James D. Miller, and Henry L. Barger (manager). Third Row: Cy Miller and Louis B. LaFevre. Not pictured: Claude Jackson, E. Hubert Davis, Claude M. Caruthers, and Joe W. Davis. Not pictured or listed in newspaper: Joe G. Copeland, Earl Sims, and George F. Graves.

Overall began his coaching career at Tennessee Tech in 1923. He coached basketball, baseball, and football, but is known for football. In 1946, he retired his first time from coaching to continue the growth of the Physical Education Department. His best football seasons were in 1928 and 1932, but in 1952, Overall returned to coaching. He retired the second time in 1953 on top after the Golden Eagles’ team played East Texas State in Orlando, Florida in the Tangerine Bowl, and the Golden Eagles went to the OVC championship with Western Kentucky, and even still the Golden Eagles beat MTSU (46-13), a long rivalry Overall was instrumental in initiating.

The early athletic program at Tennessee Tech lacked the essentials such as fields and facilities (campus map). Football was played on the old fairgrounds. Athletic scholarships were nonexistent and there was a small football team. Overall helped build the athletic program at Tennessee Tech and he organized the biology program at Tennessee Tech, starting with zoology and botany. He chaired and organized the Department of Health and Physical Education in 1938. He was also the first president of the Tennessee College Physical Education Association.

Overall retired from all positions at Tennessee Tech in 1967 but during his time at Tennessee Tech, he built the athletic program at Tennessee Tech from fledgling to Golden Eagle. Middle Tennessee State University honored Overall a “Distinguished Alumnus in 1961. Overall was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1966-1969, and was honored in 1966. He was one of the first inductees into the Tennessee Tech Hall of Fame in 1975. Overall has had two Tennessee Tech athletic fields named in his honor, the most recent is Overall Field in Tucker Stadium. He was inducted into the OVC Hall of Fame in 1981.

Leonard Crawford, Maurice Haste, John Oldham, P. V. Overall, Malcolm Quillen

Malcolm Quillen’s success did not pale in comparison to Overall. He was a successful athlete in the 1930s and coach at Tennessee Tech in the 1950s. He was inducted into Tennessee Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1976, the OVC Sports Hall of Fame in 1984, and Tech’s baseball playing field is named in his honor. He was Tennessee Tech’s Dean of men from 1958 to 1975 and a golf coach in the late 1970s. Both he and Everett Derryberry are in the Columbia Central High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Football Clinic with Coach Overall sharing a story, 1968.

The scrapbook, donated by Pat Quillen, and the collection held by the archives, highlight both of these men’s extraordinary sports’ careers at Tennessee Tech.  Students and athletes appreciated Overall’s character and life lessons. From Overall, “Athletics should supplement the classroom teaching in giving too our society boys and girls that have first hand [sic] experience in learning the values of honesty, self-denial, loyality [sic], respect for others and a willingness to assume and discharge their obligations to God and man.” The collection and scrapbooks contain numerous accolades written to Overall from former players before and at the time of his retirement. Access a selection of these here. The scrapbook Overall gifted Quillen can be accessed here.  We will be digitizing the remaining scrapbooks this year so check back if you enjoy it!


Columbia Central High School Athletics. Hall of fame inductees. Columbia Central High Web site. Updated 2022. Accessed September 26, 2022.

Corhern T. 100th anniversary: The pre-varsity years (1916-21). TTU Sports Information Web site. Accessed September 26, 2022.

Eagle yearbook staff. The eagle yearbook. Tennessee Technological University; 1974. Accessed September 26, 2022.

Lewis County Herald. Malcolm Patterson “Mutt” Quillen Sr. Find A Grave Web site. Updated 1995. Accessed September 26, 2022.

OVC Sports Hall of Fame. Malcolm P. Quillen. Ohio Valley Conference Web site. Updated 2022. Accessed September 26, 2022.

Tennessee tech’s unbeaten team. The Nashville Banner. November 22 1932:7.

OVC Sports Hall of Fame. P.V. Overall. Ohio Valley Conference Web site. Updated 2022. Accessed September 26, 2022.

RG 7 Preston Vaughn “Putty” Overall Scrapbooks, Tennessee Tech University Archives and Special Collections.

Tennessee Tech Athletics. Malcolm P. “Mutt” Quillen. Tennessee Tech University Hall of Fame Web site. Updated 2022. Accessed September 26, 2022.

Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Overall, Preston Vaughn “Putty”. Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Web site. Updated 2022. Accessed September 26, 2022.

TTU Sports Information. Preston V. “Putty” Overall. Tennessee Tech University Hall of Fame Web site. Updated 2022. Accessed September 26, 2022.

TTU Sports Information. Tech legends Derryberry, Quillen named to Columbia central inaugural athletic hall of fame. Tennessee Tech University Sports Web site. Updated 2018. Accessed September 26, 2022.

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“Roads Were Made for Journeys not Destinations”

By: Julia Peacock and Jenny Huffman

Roads, avenues, streets, and boulevards provide the means of travel through and around Tech’s campus while offering students the ability take their first steps on their journey at Tennessee Tech University and into their future. Since its establishment, there have been many changes to Tennessee Tech’s campus, including road names. Roads across the country have a lot of different, strange, and unique names, but what is the reason behind Tennessee Tech’s road names and how did they receive their names?

Tennessee Tech’s campus has streets named after trees and numbers, a system derived and popularized by two of the oldest cities in the United States. The City of New York popularized numbered streets in America around 1811 when it created the “Commissioner’s Plan of 1811.” The plan established the grid system to solve current and future infrastructure problems and to accommodate for the influx of immigrants arriving in Manhattans ports and harbors. Naming streets after trees became popular when William Penn, an English Quaker, oversaw the creation and design of the city of Philadelphia. He wanted the city to have lots of green spaces and to be fire resistant– presumably because London has had over a dozen notable fires that destroyed most of the city. Penn and his apprentice Thomas Holme mapped out two miles of land in between two rivers, the Delaware and the Schuylkill. They designed the city with wide open streets in a near perfect grid. Running North to South, almost all the streets were named after trees, including a Cedar and Walnut Street, similar to Tennessee Tech. Whether driving through town or studying a map, the influences of these cities can be seen in almost every town in the country.

The most recognizable road on campus, Dixie Avenue, was named after the University of Dixie. In 1909, the leaders of the Broad Street Church of Christ established the University of Dixie, or Dixie College, in Cookeville, Tennessee. The college later became the state-run Tennessee Polytechnic Institute and then Tennessee Technological University. Originally called West Road, a 1915 article in the Putnam County Herald called the road Dixie Avenue, “or the pike leading out north by the University of Dixie.”

William L. Jones portrait, undated
Dedication program for William L. Jones Drive, 1982 May 30

On Tennessee Tech’s campus there are two roads named after notable people in Tennessee Tech’s history, William L. Jones Drive and McGee Boulevard. Most students only think of William L. Jones Drive as the primary address for Tennessee Tech or as the road in front of Derryberry Hall. William L. Jones (1935-1981) had a long career at Tennessee Tech, receiving both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the university. He then worked as the chief fiscal officer for the university. In 1974, he became Tennessee Tech’s vice president for Business and Fiscal Affairs. In 1975, he became the State of Tennessee’s commissioner of Finance and Administration. He served in many capacities for the State of Tennessee including in the Department of Safety, where he designed the central driver’s license system for Tennessee. A scholarship was established in his name soon after his death and William L. Jones Drive was dedicated on May 30, 1982 to a “graduate who served with distinction…for the University and the State of Tennessee.”

Sidney McGee following World War I in gas mask, 1919

McGee Boulevard is located on the west side of campus in between Hooper Eblen and the tennis courts. Sidney “Doc” McGee was a prominent member in both the Cookeville and Tennessee Tech communities. In 1917, McGee’s began working as a coal miner in West Virginia, but soon enlisted and served in World War I. After the war he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of West Virginia. He earned his doctorate in French at the University of Montpellier in France. He was a member of Tennessee Tech’s faculty for 29 years and served as chairman for the foreign language department. He was also an advisor for the yearbook and student newspaper and was known as the university’s unofficial sports information director. In addition to his work at Tech, Dr. McGee was a sports correspondent for Cookeville’s Herald-Citizen and was the first chairman of the Golden Eagle Sports Hall of Fame selections committee, where he was posthumously inducted after his death in 1976. In 1977, Tennessee Tech dedicated McGee Boulevard at the same time as the newly built Hooper Eblen Center and The Eagles’ Nest. In addition to having a street named after him, there is a scholarship in his honor. The archives house his papers which documents his early years and tenure at Tennessee Tech.

For more campus history, visit the Archives!


Commissioners’ plan of Manhattan Island and report with related materials. Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. (n.d.).

Groundspeak, Inc. (n.d.). William L. Jones – Cookeville, TN Image. Waymarking.

Plan of the city of Philadelphia. City Maps and Urban Environments – CURIOSity Digital Collections. (n.d.).

McGee, Sidney. “Sidney McGee’s Photograph Book.” Volume. 1919. From Tennessee Tech University Archives and Special Collections. RG 8 Sidney [Doc] McGee papers, Volume 2.

Tennessee Technological University. Photo Services. “William L. Jones.” Negative. Undated. From Tennessee Tech University Archives and Special Collections. RG 112 Photo Services photographs, Box 73, Folder 142.

Tennessee Technological University. “William L. Jones Program of Dedication.” Pamphlet. May 30, 1982. From Tennessee Tech University Archives and Special Collections. RG 9 Records of the President, Box 394 Folder 14.

Winberg, M. (2019, October 27). William Penn at 375: How Philadelphia became a model for American cities. Billy Penn.

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Meet the New Archives Assistant!

The Tennessee Tech University Archives and Special Collections is excited to introduce their newest addition to the archival team! Jenny Huffman began her new role as an Archives Assistant in June 2022. Her work will include digitization and digital preservation, remediating existing metadata and creating new metadata, management of the Archive’s public image on social media, and streamlining digital workflows by maintaining and updating policies and procedures. 

Jenny is a Tennessee Tech Alumni who earned her B.S. in History in December 2019. During her undergraduate studies at Tennessee Tech, Jenny served as president and vice president of the History Club, and currently serves as President Emeritus of this organization – an honor bestowed upon her for her work in fundraising, raising membership levels, and ability to create and market innovative history programming. While attending Tennessee Tech, Jenny participated in a 9-month internship at the Tennessee Tech University Archives and Special Collections. During this internship she processed the papers of composer Robert E. Jager. She also served as a volunteer at the Cookeville History Museum where she accessioned artifacts and performed in the Night at the Museums Ghost Walk. 

Jenny Huffman seated at her desk ready to begin her new position.

In May 2022, Jenny obtained her Masters of Science in Information Sciences from the University of Tennessee Knoxville where she followed the Archives and Records Management pathway. She served as president of the Society of American Archivists student chapter for three semesters and published a poster for the national Society of American Archivists 2021 annual conference. She is a recipient of the University of Tennessee School of Information Sciences’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award as well as the Outstanding Service Award. 

Jenny has digital archival experience through real life projects that she participated in during her graduate studies. She worked as part of the Rockvale High School Digitization Project – a semester-long group project that worked with the newly reopened Rockvale High School in Rutherford County, Tennessee. Jenny also created description guidelines for the digitized materials included in the digital repository.  

In addition to experience gained during her graduate studies, Jenny’s most recent project involved setting up a Memory Lab and Digitization Station for the Putnam County Library. 

While Jenny is passionate about digital archiving and protecting history, she also loves reading, playing video games, catching up on the latest Marvel or DC shows and movies, and is proud to call herself a pop culture geek.  

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The Loyola Project at Tennessee Tech

On April 13, 2022, Tech Archives participated in a film screening series with 63 other institutions airing and discussing the documentary, “The Loyola Project.” The film documents the 1963 NCAA championship win of the Loyola Ramblers of Chicago. The film was offered to Tech Archives due to our providing archival resources for the documentary and because of our participation in the 1963 NCAA championship. Tennessee Tech won against Morehead under Coach Oldham in the OVC playoffs on March 8, 1963, putting them in the NCAA playoffs against one of the tournament’s top teams in the nation, Loyola. The Loyola win against Tennessee Tech remains the largest victory in the tournament’s history.  

Event flier.

The NCAA championship of 1963 included Tennessee Tech, Mississippi State, Illinois, Duke University, and Cincinnati. In the Round of 25 at the NCAA Championship that year, the first team the Ramblers played against was Tennessee Tech followed by Mississippi State Bulldogs (Maroons at the time) under coach Babe McCarthy. Tennessee Tech and Mississippi State were still segregated schools, but Mississippi States’ situation was further aggravated by the Mississippi Governor, Ross Barnett, and the widely-accepted unwritten sanction that prohibited their teams from playing against teams with African Americans players. Mississippi State’s coach sent his players to the championship, defying his state’s sanctioned rule by setting up a decoy team to pretend to go to the tournament while the actual team travelled by another means. It was McCarthy’s defiance and the Rambler players’ perseverance that led to a basketball game that is now known as the “Game of Change.”

RG 115 Photo Services photographs, Loyola vs. Tennessee Tech, 1963 March 11. For more images of this game, follow this link.

At the end of the tournament, the Loyola Ramblers won the 1963 tournament against the University of Cincinnati, but their journey was challenged by racial barriers and occurred during a very critical moment in the Civil Rights Movement. The Ramblers’ coach, George Ireland, was culpable of creating these barriers, but also removing them for the win. Ireland initially did not play more than three African Americans on the court at a time due to an unwritten rule about having too many African Americans on the court at once. Team members were segregated when they competed in the South at segregated institutions and the players did not receive the support they needed to attend Loyola College, a mostly white institution. Players received threats and hate mail. In the end, George Ireland played more than three African Americans and won the championship as a result, breaking the unwritten rule.

Tennessee Tech began integrating in 1964 and in this same year, Tech’s basketball coaches recruited African American players. The first players recruited to the Men’s Basketball freshmen team were Henry James Jordan, Joe Neal Hilson, and Marvin Knott Beidleman. The experiences of Tennessee Tech’s first African American athletes were similar to the story of the Loyola Ramblers.

Moderator Megan Atkinson with panelist Coach John Pelphrey, Dr. Arthur Banton, and Coach Kim Rosamond.

Tech Archives partnered with Athletics, Multicultural Affairs, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to host the event. The speakers included Men’s Basketball Coach John Pelphrey, Women’s basketball Coach Kim Rosamond, and Historian Dr. Arthur Banton. The discussion was informative and the panel provided a historical perspective and personal perspective from the coaches regarding their relationships with their players. “The Loyola Project” is available for viewing on Paramount+ streaming. The movie captures this great historical event while revealing the lasting emotional impact upon those involved.

Further Information:

The film’s website is here.

For information regarding Tech’s 1963 basketball team, see the 1963-1964 Basketball Sports Guide which discusses the 1962-1963 season.

For information regarding the experiences of Tennessee Tech first African American athletes, see the “Athletes” section of “Imagine Going Half a Day and Not Seeing Anybody That Looks Like You”: A History Of Black Students and Employees at Tennessee Tech

For detailed information regarding the Loyola Ramblers 1963 win, read “Ramblers: Loyola Chicago 1963 The Team that Changed the Color of College Basketball (2013)” by Michael Lenehan.

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“The Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree and Finding My Calling”

Almost exactly one year ago, I fell victim to the soul-searching state of mind that enraptures every senior as they arrive at their last year. Age-old enigmas, such as how I was going to prove to my parents that an English degree wasn’t the worst decision I’d ever made, were far more stressing than any research paper. I had inklings of what I wanted to do— vague visions of myself surrounded by books and old things— à la Evie Carnahan shelving dusty tomes in The Mummy (1999). Fate soon dispatched me a sign: a flier in Henderson Hall for an Archives Management and Research course. Through this class, I discovered a profound love of the archives, and after bugging Megan Atkinson, our university archivist, enough times— she offered me an internship.

Frazier Moss and others on stage at the Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree, Photograph by Eddie Breswell, 1977. RG 161, Neil Dudney photographs,

As luck would have it, the Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree hit the Big 5-0 this year, and the Jamboree’s board sought a research assistant for a book celebrating its semicentennial anniversary. One of Tennessee Tech’s Archives and Special Collections’ primary duties is the preservation of the Upper Cumberland’s history and culture, thus the Jamboree board looked to Tennessee Tech for assistance. They had the resources, decade’s worth of materials (photographs, programs, negatives, documents, even an artifact or two) but lacked the technology to properly process it. That’s where I came in.

I have digitized, preserved, and researched materials not only emanating from the jamboree, but also explored topics about the Smithville area in general to compose a comprehensive history of the festival. Notably, the Joe L. Evins Papers and Tennessee Tech’s Presidential Papers shed light on the origins of the most integral aspects of the jamboree, such as the town square that houses it every July. Evins was also a prime mover in the jamboree’s creation, alongside other notable Smithville natives, such as Barry C. Williams. Tech and the jamboree, as it turns out, has a rather long history together. The jamboree has called at least one Tennessee Tech president, Arliss Roaden, amongst its special guests over the years.

Left to right: Unknown, Smithville Mayor Edward Frazier, Dekalb County Judge Billy J. LaFever, Tennessee Tech President Arliss Roaden, and Joe and Ann Evins at the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree opening ceremony, 1980. RG 161, Neil Dudney photographs,

Recently, the materials entrusted to me by the Jamboree board have been donated to Tennessee Tech’s archives. With the anniversary book nearing completion, my work as an intern has shifted to ingesting the newly digitized Jamboree materials into our archive. This was an end goal from the start; the board wished for the Jamboree’s materials, its history, to not only be researched, but also translocated to a more secure and preservation-friendly location. Now, the Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree Collection is underway, which the majority of materials in the process of digitization. I am thrilled to see this project from its initial stages to its finalization as a formal collection. It is a great honor for my research to help not only the Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree board, but also future students in their own projects.

Jacob Gentry, 2022 March.

Through this experience (99.9% this experience, .1%  The Mummy), I discovered my true calling is preservation. I was fortunate to be given this wonderful opportunity, and work in a field previous unknown to me. It saddens me to report that my internship is nearing the end of its tenure, but my work is just about done here. My time in the archival world is far from over, however, as I will soon be moving to attend Indiana University Bloomington to pursue master’s degrees in both Literature and Library Science, with a concentration in Rare Book and Manuscript Librarianship (think Indiana Jones but only books). So, if you are interested in festivals, especially those involving fiddles, do check out our latest collection. I promise you will not be disappointed.

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