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A Guide to the John James Tigert Papers

Finding aid created by Dept. Staff

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
February 2012

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Tigert, John James, 1882-1965
Title: John James Tigert Papers
Dates: 1840-1965
Abstract: Personal correspondence, memorabilia, writings, and scrapbooks of John James Tigert, third president of the University of Florida. Also included are documents related to the Tigert and McTyeire families, including Tigert's father, Bishop John James Tigert (1856-1906), his mother, Amelia McTyeire Tigert, and Tigert's maternal grandfather, Bishop Holland Nimmons Mctyeire.
Extent: 8.3 Linear feet. 18 boxes, 8 volumes.
Identification: Series P8
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

John James Tigert was born February 11, 1882, the third child of John James Tigert III (1857?-1906) and Amelia McTyeire Tigert. Amelia Tigert was the daughter of Bishop Holland Nimmons McTyeire, first president of the Board of Trust of Vanderbilt University. Her mother, Amelia Townsend McTyeire, was a cousin of Cornelius Vanderbilt. John James Tigert III was a member of Vanderbilt's faculty and a bishop in the Methodist Church.

John J. Tigert received his secondary education at the Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. He enrolled at Vanderbilt in 1899 and received his B.A. in 1904. He excelled in academics and athletics, and was the first Rhodes Scholar selected from Tennessee. He attended Oxford from 1904 to 1906. The degree M.A. Oxon. was conferred upon Tigert in 1915.

Upon his return from Oxford, Tigert taught philosophy at Central Methodist College in Saint Louis, Missouri. There he met and married Edith J. Bristol. In 1909, he was selected president of Kentucky Wesleyan College. In 1913, Tigert moved to the University of Kentucky where he accepted the Chair of Philosophy. He was appointed Chair of the Psychology Department in 1919 and served briefly as head of the Athletic Department and coach of the football team. He taught at Kentucky for ten years with an absence during World War I when he served as a YMCA volunteer in the American Expeditionary Force. In 1921, Warren S. Harding selected Tigert for the post of Commissioner of Education. He served in both the Harding and Coolidge administrations.

In 1928, Tigert accepted the presidency of the University of Florida and arrived on campus in September of that year. His administration began in the midst of an economic crisis that had brought a serious decline in state revenues. The state's economic woes continued throughout the Great Depression. Consequently, money for expansion of the physical plant and curriculum was largely unavailable during his twenty year tenure. The only major addition to the catalog was a School of Forestry. His major accomplishments occurred in the areas of curricular reform, administrative organization, and research support.

Under his guidance, the undergraduate program was reorganized. Entrance requirements were strengthened and all applicants were required to pass a comprehensive placement exam before they could be accepted. To curb excessive failure rates in the lower classes, the General College was created in 1935 and standardized testing for freshmen and sophomores was instituted. An Associate of Arts diploma was conferred on graduates of the General College. For many financially strapped students, the A.A. degree was often a terminal one. The creation of the General College also allowed the other colleges to expand the number of upper-level courses. The first non-agricultural research centers were created in 1930 with the founding of the Institute of Inter-American Affairs (now Center for Latin American Studies) and the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. The Research Council was organized in 1939 to develop policies on patents and copyrights and to stimulate research. It is the forerunner of today's research development offices. During Tigert's presidency, the quantity and quality of faculty publication increased as did the level of graduate research. The first Ph.D.s were awarded in 1934 in the areas of chemistry and pharmacy.

Student enrollment had risen to over 2000 by the time Tigert arrived in 1928. To meet the needs of these students, Tigert created a Dean of Students and appointed B. A. Tolbert to the position. Tigert also organized an executive body, the University Council, to serve as the president's cabinet and budget committee. The Council was composed of all deans, the president, the registrar, and the University's secretary. A University Senate was also embodied in the University's first constitution. The Senate included the Council, faculty representatives, and key administrators from non-academic units.

The end of World War II created a demand for college education nationwide. The University of Florida's enrollment soared to 7000 in 1946. Wooden classroom buildings and dormitories sprang up to accommodate returning veterans. Many of these "temporary" buildings were still being used in the 1970s. Tigert oversaw the first years of postwar expansion and then announced his retirement in 1947. He later accepted a teaching position in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Miami. Before he started, though, he was asked to join the Indian Higher Education Commission created to survey conditions in India's universities and to plan a program for India's system of higher education. He returned to Miami in 1950 and served on the faculty until 1959. In 1960, the University of Florida's new administration building was named in his honor. He died January 21, 1965 at the age of 82.

Scope and Content

Series P8 contains the personal correspondence, memorabilia, writings, and scrapbooks of John James Tigert, third president of the University of Florida. Also included in the series are documents related to the Tigert and McTyeire families. Of particular note are records related to Tigert's father, Bishop John James Tigert (1856-1906), his mother, Amelia McTyeire Tigert, and Tigert's maternal grandfather, Bishop Holland Nimmons Mctyeire.

The series documents the childhood and early education of President Tigert, his college education at Vanderbilt University, and his Rhodes scholarship at Oxford. His careers at the University of Kentucky and as U.S. Commissioner of Education are extensively recorded. The series also chronicles Tigert's career after his retirement as president of the University of Florida. Finally, the series contains President Tigert's speeches, diaries, lecture notes and other writings.

The series also contains letters and documents from Tigert's father. Included in the documents are publications related to claims against the U. S. government by the publishing house of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, for properties expropriated during the Civil War. These are annotated by his father.


The series is divided into four subseries: Personal correspondence, Miscellany, Writings, and Family records.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], John James Tigert Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Contents List

Subseries P8a: Personal Correspondence 1898-1965

Subseries P8a contains Tigert's personal correspondence from 1898 to 1965. The subseries begins with Tigert's secondary education at Webb's School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, and continues with his college days at Vanderbilt University, his stay at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, his academic career at Central College, Kentucky, and Kentucky Wesleyan College, his tenure as U.S. Commissioner of Education, and the periods during and after his presidency at the University of Florida. Also included in this subseries are photocopies of Tigert correspondence, some with his mother, but most are letters exchanged between Tigert and his wife while he served overseas during World War I. The photocopies were donated by Tigert's biographer, George Coleman Osborn.

1 Correspondence. 1898-1928
2 Correspondence. 1928-1934
3 Correspondence. 1935-1939
4 Correspondence. 1940-1944
5 Correspondence. 1945-1947
6 Correspondence. 1947-1965
7 Photocopies of letters; various dates.
8 Photocopies of letters; various dates.
9 Photocopies of letters; various dates.

Subseries P8b: Miscellany 1901-1968

Subseries P8b contains photo albums, scrapbooks, memorabilia, and other miscellaneous materials documenting the life of John James Tigert.

1 Photo album- Photograph's of Tigert's years at Pembroke College, Oxford, Central College (Kentucky), Kentucky Wesleyan College, and the University of Kentucky. 1901-1911
2 Photo album- University of Kentucky football, U. S. Commission of Education, others. 1909-1927
3 Scrapbook- Newspaper clippings. 1918-1928
4 Scrapbook. 1928-1935
5 Scrapbook. 1935-1945
6 Scrapbook. 1945-1960
7 Scrapbook. 1960-1965

1 Testimonial letters to John J. Tigert. 1947
1 Lists (speaking engagements, memberships, and books in office).
1 Bibliographies.
1 Memorabilia (Rhodes scholar, general).
1 Military Records.
1 Programs.
1 Souvenir book from Tigert's stay at Oxford.
2 Scrapbook. 1907-1920
2 Photographs of Germany and Mexico.
2 Awards, honorary degrees, etc.
2 Correspondence related to Tigert biography and Tigert Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Subseries P8c: Writings 1904-1959

Subseries P8c contains speeches, articles, press statements, lecture notes, and other writings of John James Tigert. These include materials written during his tenures as U. S. Commissioner of Education and President of the University of Florida as well as some earlier writings. Included in the subseries is a manuscript of sermons and speeches, edited by Tigert, by his grandfather, Holland Nimmons McTyeire, and manuscripts of a biography of McTyeire written by Tigert. The subseries also contains Tigert's Oxford diaries.

1 Collection of speeches and sermons by Bishop Holland N. McTyeire, edited and with an introduction by John James Tigert.
1 Manuscript of a biography of Bishop McTyeire by Tigert.
1 Tigert writings. 1904-1923
2 Tigert writings. 1909-1926
3 Tigert writings. 1926-1932
4 Tigert writings. 1933-1959
5 Daily journals by Tigert while a student at Pembroke College, Oxford. 1904-1906
5 Photocopies of diary written while in India. 1949

Subseries P8d: Tigert/McTyeire Family Records and Memorabilia 1840-1948

Subseries P8d contains correspondence, documents, clippings, and memorabilia related to the Tigert and McTyeire families. The letters are largely typescripts and photocopies of correspondence between Tigert's maternal grandparents, Amelia Townsend McTyeire and Holland McTyeire. The subseries also contains letters and other documents from Tigert's father. Included in the documents are publications related to claims against the U. S. government by the publishing house of the Methodist Episcopal Church , South, for properties expropriated during the Civil War. These are annotated by his father.

1 Correspondence - Typescripts, John and Elizabeth McTyeire. 1840-1846
1 Correspondence - Typescripts, Correspondence to Amelia Townsend.
1 Correspondence - McTyeire, primarily from her husband Holland.
1 Correspondence - McTyeire (Originals at Vanderbilt University). 1847-1889
1 Correspondence - Letters to Bishop John James Tigert, including letters from Senator John T. Morgan. 1878-1906
1 Correspondence - Photocopies of correspondence with Bishop John James Tigert. 1898-1900
1 Correspondence - Van Veghten letters. 1876
1 Correspondence - Letters of John J. Tigert to John J. Tigert. 1876-1899
1 Memorabilia.
1 Marriage certificates and wills.
1 Publisher's copy of Hand-book of Logic: A Concise Body of Logical Doctrine by Bishop John James Tigert, with corrections and changes. 1889
2 Memorial scrapbook to Bishop Tigert. 1906

1 A scrapbook of clippings related to Tigert/McTyeire families.
2 Diary of Amelia McTyeire Tigert. 1889-1912

1 Documents related to the claims of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, for materials expropriated during the Civil War.
1 Our claim against the government. 1897
1 Second speech on the law of the Southern Methodist Church Claim. 1898
1 Debate to investigate the payment of money appropriated by bill for relief of the book agents of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. 1898
1 Publishing House Claim. Not dated
1 Debate on bill for relief of the book agents of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. 1898
1 Methodist book concern. 1898
2 Minority report of Committee on Publishing Interest on "war claim". 1898
2 Unanimous action of the United States Senate replying to letter of the Bishops of the M. E. Church South. 1898
2 "A saint before his fall", cartoon clipping from Nashville Daily News. August 9, 1901

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

McTyeire, Holland Nimmons, 1824-1889
Methodist Episcopal Church, South
Tigert, Jno. J., (John James), 1856-1906
United States. Office of Education.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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