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Thomas E. Will Papers


The papers of Thomas Elmer Will (1861-1937), professor of Political Economy and President of Kansas State Agricultural College, were donated to the University by Lawrence E. Will, the son of the late Thomas E. Will.

The papers, consisting of approximately 430 items, are housed in one document box. They are arranged according to form of material in seven series: l) correspondence, 2) minutes, 3) legal documents, 4) reports, 5) printed material, 6) financial records, and 7) notes and drafts.

The processing of the papers was completed by Cindy Schneider in March of 1984. The collection is accessioned as PC 96, (revised number, UA 1988.43) and cataloged as MS 2.

Biographical Sketch

1861        Born in Stones Prairie, Illinois, November 11

1880        Country School teacher

1885        Graduated from Illinois State Normal

1886-1888   Principal Edwards Grammar School, Springfield, IL

1888-1889   Student, University of Michigan

1890        Entered senior class at Harvard and graduated

1891        Married Marie Van Velsor, July 1;  Accepted chair of History and Political Science, 
            Lawrence University, Appleton, WI

1893        Helped organize the Union for Practical Progress at Boston;  Delivered courses of Lectures on 
            Economics at Boston;  Wrote a series of sociological articles for the "Arena", Boston

1894        Accepted chair of Political Economy Kansas State  Agricultural College

1897        Elected President of Kansas State Agricultural College;  Head of State  Experimental Station

1899        Resigned as President of KSAC

1900-1903   Educational, literary and administrative work at Ruskin College, Trenton, MO

1903-1905   Lived in Wichita, KS, editor of newspaper;  President of New Socialist College;  
            Delegate to National Convention

1905        Appointed to position in United States Census Office;  Member, American Forestry Association, 
            Washington, DC

1910        Moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL;  Editor of magazine, "Conservation"; 
            Delivered lectures for American Forestry Association

1914        Started first settlement, Okeelanta, Palm Beach County, Florida Everglades 
1915-1930   Involved in the development of the Everglades and highway projects

1930        Mrs. Will passed away, March 5;  Moved to Belle Glede, FL

1931        Spent 3 months in Tallahassee, FL at legislative sessions

1932        Spent 6 months in Washington, DC lobbying for the Everglades

1937        Died March 5

1941        Opening of Thomas Will Memorial Highway, connecting Lake Okeechobee with Miami and Fort Lauderdale


Walters, J.D., History of the Kansas State Agricultural College, 1909 (LD/2668/W3)

Willard, Julius T., History of the Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science, 1940. (LD/2668/W4935)

Who's Who In America, Volume 4, 1961-1968. (E/663/W55/V.4)

Scope and Content Note

The Thomas E. Will papers contain business correspondence, printed material, Board of Regents minutes, reports, legal documents, notes and drafts, and newspaper clippings. There are approximately 430 items in the collection, which is housed in one document box.

The papers are divided into seven series: l) correspondence, 2) minutes, 3) legal documents, 4) reports, 5) printed material, 6) financial records, and 7) notes and drafts.

Correspondence with Regents, Kansas State Agricultural College executive department members, KSAC faculty and staff and the governor of Kansas, make up a large portion of the collection. Also among correspondence is letters between J.D. Walters and Thomas E. Will.

Many of the letters deal with normal procedures at KSAC, however, some of the correspondence concerns the resignation of President Thomas E. Will. The series is contained in five folders.

Board of Regents minutes make up the second series and they are contained in a single folder. Among the minutes are reactions of Regents to the dismissal of Thomas E. Will and other college professors, Regents Carl Vrooman and Susan St. John, in particular.

Legal documents are filed in one folder. The documents are contracts written up by the Board of Regents for college faculty and staff. Some of the contracts are actually signed by the Regents, but many of them are blank forms. Other legal records consist of statements of college debts owed and changes within the Board of Regents.

Reports concern the political controversies that caused outrage in Manhattan, as well as the college. These reports are just written papers that explain the happenings at this time of political dissension. This information is contained in the fourth series, entitled reports.

Printed material makes up a large portion of the collection. Such items as programs and articles concerning KSAC, articles written by Thomas E. Will, a Kansas Supreme Court brief by G.C. Clemons, and newspaper clippings are included in this series. The series is contained in five folders.

Financial documents include statements and expenditures concerning the treasury department of KSAC Also included in this series are copies of the college deficits for the fiscal years 1886-1899.

Notes and drafts make up the final series of this collection. The authorship of many of these handwritten items is unknown and they are difficult to read.

Container List

Box  Folder

1      01       1896-1898
       02       1899
       03       1900
       04       1901
       05       J.D. Walters (1908-1909)

             Board of Regents Minutes
       06       1897-1899, n.d.

             Legal Documents
       07       1899, n.d.

       08       n.d.

             Printed Material
       09       Programs and Articles
       10       Programs and Articles
       11       Articles by Will
       12       Supreme Court Brief by G.C. Clemons
       13       Newspaper clippings

             Financial Records
       14       1886-1900, n.d.

             Notes and Drafts
       15       n.d.