A Guide to the Samuel P. Duke Papers, 1921-1971:UA 0014

A Guide to the Samuel P. Duke Papers, 1921-1971:UA 0014

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number UA 0014


Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Special Collections
Carrier Library
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807
Phone: (540) 568-3612
Fax: (540) 568-3405
Email: library-special@jmu.edu
URL: http://www.lib.jmu.edu/special

© 2020 By JMU Libraries. All rights reserved.

Processed by: Lillie Jacob, September 2019

Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
Collection Number
UA 0014
Samuel P. Duke Papers, 1921-1971
.5 cubic feet; 2 boxes
Duke, Samuel Page, 1885-1955
English .
The Samuel P. Duke Papers, 1921-1971, comprise correspondence from, to, and concerning Madison College president Samuel P. Duke, as well as meeting minutes of the Executive Committee that served the college in his absence due to illness. Many documents relate to the change from the State Normal School for Women to the State Teachers College, and eventually, the change to Madison College.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

Copyright for Official University records is held by James Madison University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Preferred Citation

[identification of item], [box #, folder #], Samuel P. Duke Papers, 1921-1971, UA 0014, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

Acquisition Information

Donna Bench transferred these items to Special Collections on October 26, 1999, as she was cleaning out old file cabinets in the President's office.

Bio/Historical Note

Samuel P. Duke was born September 5, 1885 in Ferrum, Virginia to Rev. Thomas P. Duke and Jennie G. Duke. He graduated with a B.A. from Randolph-Macon College, his father's alma mater, in 1906. He began teaching at Willie Halsell College in Vinita, Oklahoma and married his wife, Linnie Lucile Campbell, in 1908. They had four children together. Duke then returned to Virginia as a principal for a high school in Chase City, and relocated to Richmond in 1910 where he worked towards an M.A. from the Teachers College of Columbia University, which he obtained in 1913. He also received honorary LL.D. degrees from Hampden-Sydney College (1931) and Bridgewater College (1946).

After several years of experience in public schools throughout Virginia as well as serving as the head of the education department and director of the teachers training program at the State Normal School for Women at Farmville, Duke was appointed president of the State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg by the Virginia Normal School Board in 1919.

During his time as president, Duke oversaw several changes at the school. He chaired a committee that recommended to the school board that state normal schools become teacher colleges with both 2 and 4-year degree options, and in 1924 the State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg became the State Teachers College at Harrisonburg. In 1938 the institution was renamed Madison College, honoring James Madison on Duke's recommendation, and in 1946, the administration started accepting male students as day students. After 30 years of service to the institution, Duke resigned his post in 1949 due to ill health and died at his Harrisonburg home in 1955.

James Madison University's mascot, the duke dog, originated during Duke's presidency by the first men's basketball team in 1947, and became the university wide mascot in President Duke's memory.

Scope and Content

The Samuel P. Duke Papers, 1921-1971, consist of 0.50 cubic feet of material, mostly containing correspondence between Duke and prospective employees (through telegrams and typed and handwritten letters), as well as current faculty, students, parents, one letter from First Lady Edith Wilson, and several other parties. The collection also includes files documenting the creation of a bachelor of arts degree, proposed curriculum, data and comparative documents, newspaper clippings concerning a B.A. degree, histories of the institution, a proposition to change the state teachers college into a liberal arts school, student disciplinary records, navy veteran cards, suggested policies and objectives, classification of students, post-grad salary statistics, registration information, thank you notes from a first grade class, library statistics, biographical information and publications by and on Duke, a field proposal, Madison College defense activities 1942-1943, and two photographs.

Two folders contain executive committee records from meetings that took place 1948-1949. The executive committee administered the college during Duke's illness.

The collection also contains correspondence between G. Tyler Miller, a later president of JMU, and several persons concerning arguments over a bust of Samuel P. Duke that was eventually destroyed due to disputes over price. In addition, the folder contains a photograph of the bust and clippings of newspaper coverage.

All materials are in English with the exception of one letter written in Spanish (Box 1: Folder 10).


Contents are arranged topically and chronologically within topic (when applicable).

Index Terms


  • College presidents -- Virginia
  • Duke, Samuel Page, 1885-1955
  • Education, Higher -- Virginia
  • James Madison University -- History
  • Madison College
  • State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg (Harrisonburg, Va.)
  • State Teachers College at Harrisonburg (Harrisonburg, Va.)
  • Universities and colleges -- Virginia -- Administration
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Administrative records
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Photographs


"JMU Centennial Celebration - Dukes Nickname and the Duke Dog." James Madison University, JMU Athletics, 26 July 2019, www.jmu.edu/centennialcelebration/dukedog.shtml (Accessed September 2019).

"Samuel Page Duke." Dictionary of Virginia Biography - Samuel Page Duke (5 September 1885-25 April 1955) Biography, Library of Virginia, www.lva.virginia.gov/public/dvb/bio.asp?b=Duke_Samuel_Page (Accessed September 2019).

Container List

Box:Folder 1 folder: 1
Change from Normal School to Liberal Arts College: Publications, 1921, undated
Box:Folder 1 folder: 2
Change from Normal School to Liberal Arts College: Correspondence and Impact of the Normal School, 1926-1933
Box:Folder 1 folder: 3
Student Body Information, 1930-1948, undated
Box:Folder 1 folder: 4
Newspaper Clippings, 1931-1941, undated
Box:Folder 1 folder: 5
Bachelor of Arts Program at Madison College, 1933-1936
Box:Folder 1 folder: 6
Duke Publications and Biographical Information, 1933-1971
Box:Folder 1 folder: 7
Madison Memorial Library, 1939-1943
Box:Folder 1 folder: 8
Duke Field Map and Proposal, 1943
Box:Folder 1 folder: 9
Correspondence: General, 1930-1931, undated
Box:Folder 1 folder: 10
Correspondence: Students and Parents, 1922, 1944-1945
Box:Folder 1 folder: 11
Correspondence: Prospective Employees, 1944-1945
Box:Folder 1 folder: 12
Correspondence: Staff and Faculty, 1929, 1944-1946
Box:Folder 2 folder: 1
Executive Committee, 1948-1949
Box:Folder 2 folder: 2
Executive Committee, 1949
Box:Folder 2 folder: 3
Commemorative Bust Incident, 1956