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Office of the President: Samuel H. Whitley Papers

Identifier: 2008.079

Scope and Contents

Subgroup 1. President's Office Records contains correspondence, business files, printed materials, speeches and writings.

Series I, Correspondence contains all correspondence from Whitley's career at East Texas beginning in 1919 when he came to the College as dean of faculty and registrar. This series includes all correspondence between President Whitley and President Binnion beginning in 1919 until Binnion's death. Also included is the correspondence from Whitley while he was serving as president pro tempore during Binnion's multiple absences from the college. The bulk of this series comes from Whitley's tenure as college president. A detailed timeline of important events (as reflected in the Presidential Correspondence Subseries) is available later in the finding aid.

Series II, Business Files includes all financial documents, statistical figures, reports, and construction files from Whitley's tenure as president. Of particular interest are the construction files pertaining to the two Public Works Administration projects on campus, the construction of the dormitories now referred to as Mayo and Henderson Halls. Also included in this series is a variety of reports from collegiate departments, salary details for faculty members, petitions from students, and multiple resolutions issued by President Whitley.

Series III, Printed Materials includes official college publications and promotional materials as well as those collected from other colleges and organizations. It also includes multiple collections of clippings, all photocopied by the archivist.

Series IV, Speeches and Writings includes press releases, essays, and speeches composed by President Whitley pertaining to East Texas and higher education in general.

Subgroup 2. Whitley Family Papers contains all materials produced by the Whitley family and papers belonging to President Whitley of a personal nature. This subgroup contains a large series of family correspondence, largely between President Whitley and his children. Also included in this subgroup are family clippings, genealogical materials for the Love and Whitley families, photographs, and scrapbooks.


  • 1917-1960


Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection are protected by applicable copyright laws.

Biographical / Historical

Samuel Henry Whitley was born on September 1, 1878, on a farm near Cleburne, Texas. After attending school in Johnson County, he earned a bachelor of arts degree from Trinity University, which was then located in Tehuacana, Texas, and a master of arts degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He began his career working as a rural school teacher in Johnson, Ellis, and Limestone counties before becoming an administrator for schools in Thornton, Mexia, and Cosicana. He was named the first assistant state superintendent of public instruction in 1917.

On January 1, 1919, he accepted the position of dean of the faculty and registrar of East Texas State Normal College, a position created by ETSNC President Randolph B. Binnion. Five years later, on December 4, 1924, he assumed the presidency of the College when President Binnion accepted a position with Peabody in Tennessee.

During his 22-year tenure as president of East Texas, the college received academic certification by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and the American Association of Teachers Colleges. He oversaw the construction of the Science Building, East Dormitory, Mayo Hall, Home Economics Demonstration Cottage, President's House (now the Heritage House), Library (now the Hall of Languages), Whitley Gymnasium, and the completion of the Education Building (now Ferguson Hall). Also during Whitley's tenure graduate and extension courses were introduced to the curriculum and Ph. D.'s added to the faculty. Under his leadership, the College became known as the "South's Most Democratic College," meaning ET offered an education to those in East Texas not able to afford one otherwise. Noted for his friendliness and fairness, Whitley had the reputation of knowing the names of most of the students and faculty at ET.

Austin College in Sherman, Texas, conferred upon Whitley the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature and Trinity College the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Whitley was president of the American Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, governor of the 48th district of Rotary International, president of the Texas Society for Crippled Children, and a member of the SACSS Commission on Institutions of Higher Learning.

On December 27, 1904, Whitley married Lucy Braden Love (1880-1973) of Austin, a public school teacher and daughter of Colonel R. M. Love. The Whitleys had three children: Robert Love (1905-1933), Mary Lou (1913-1992), and Albert Portlen (1910-1986).

On October 2, 1946, President Whitley died at Caddo Lake on a hunting trip after serving ET for over two decades.


10 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Related Materials

Multiple items are available in the Special Collections Department produced by or pertaining to President Whitley. All items listed below are available upon request.

Whitley, Mary Lou. "An Interview with Mary Lou Whitley." OH 102. Interviewed by Corrine Crow on January 9, 1976. East Texas State University. (Transcript available)

Whitley, S.H. Autobiography of Sam H. Whitley.

Whitley, S.H. Factors and qualities to be considered by those charged with the responsibility of selecting college faculty-members. East Texas State Teachers College, 1928.

Whitley, S.H. "A study of the requirements for the bachelor of arts degree in certain American colleges and universities." Thes. Southern Methodist University, 1926.

Whitley, S.H. [Addresses, articles, papers, memorials, etc.]

Office of the President Samuel H. Whitley Papers
Benjamin Williams and Andrea Ellis Weddle
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Repository Details

Part of the University Archives, Special Collections, Waters Library, Texas A&M University-Commerce Repository