James K. Patterson presidential papers


The James K. Patterson presidential papers consist of his personal and professional correspondence, speeches and notes, books, reports, documents and financial material associated with the Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) College along with published materials and photographs.

Descriptive Summary

James K. Patterson presidential papers
1856-1957 (inclusive)
9.56 Cubic Feet
Women's colleges -- Kentucky -- North Middletown.
Group portraits.
Universities and colleges -- Finance.
Political letter writing Kentucky -- Lexington.
This collection is arranged in eleven series chronologically and by subject: I. Correspondence i. Personal ii. Professional II. Reports and Speeches III. Published Materials IV. Board of Trustees Materials V. Financial Materials VI. Patterson Female Institute VII. Patterson Literary Society VIII. Miscellaneous IX. Materials received by Mabel Pollitt Adams X. Photographic Materials XI. Ephemera
Finding Aid Author
Processed by Becky Eaton and rearranged by John Tomasicchio in January-April 2008 under the supervision of Deirdre A. Scaggs, University Archivist.; machine-readable finding aid created by Janice Childers
Preferred Citation
0000ua001: [identification of item], James K. Patterson presidential papers, University of Kentucky Archives.
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
James Kennedy Patterson, "The Grand Old Man" of the University, served from 1869 to1910 as president of the institutions that were to become the University of Kentucky. Through his vision, diplomatic skills, administrative acumen, and at times, financial support - the fledgling Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) College of Kentucky was transformed into an independent state university.
Patterson was born in the parish of Gorbals in Glasgow, Scotland in 1833. His family immigrated to the United States in 1842, when Patterson was nine, and settled near Madison, Indiana. He received his B.A and Master of Arts degrees from Hanover College (Indiana) in 1856 and 1859 respectively, and an honorary Ph.D. from the same institution in 1875. [Later honorary degrees included the LL.D. from the Universities of Vermont (1910) and Kentucky (1916)]. In 1859 he was married to Lucelia Wing, daughter of a wealthy New Bedford, Massachusetts whaler who had moved to Kentucky around 1800. The Pattersons had two children: daughter, Jeanie Rumsey who died in infancy and a son, William Andrew (in whose name Patterson by bequest endowed the University's School of Diplomacy), who passed away in 1895 at the age of 27. Following principalships at the Presbyterial Academy of Greenville (Kentucky) and the preparatory department of Stewart College in Clarksville, Tennessee, where he also taught Latin and Greek, he served as Principal of the Transylvania Academy in Lexington from 1861 to 1865.
With the merger in 1865 of Transylvania College, Kentucky University (in Harrodsburg), and the newly state-chartered Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky, Patterson was appointed professor of Latin and Civil History in this enlarged "Kentucky University." At the same time, he secured the chair of History and Metaphysics which he occupied under changing institutional auspices until 1910. In 1869, Patterson was elected third Presiding Officer of the University's now constituent Agricultural and Mechanical College. After rancorous denominational and theological bickering and debilitating financial hardship experienced by the hybrid institution, the State Legislature in 1878 formally separated the A&M College from K.U., and Patterson assumed the position of "President" of the independent school. One of the A&M president's first administrative efforts, following the erection of the college's first buildings on its new Lexington Fairgrounds site, ultimately at his own expense, was an attempt to repair the fiscal damage incurred by the school during its preceding thirteen years of existence in linkage with Kentucky University. To this end he indefatigably led the fight to convince the Kentucky General Assembly to enact legislation establishing a one-half-cent state property tax to raise desperately needed monies to support the struggling College. The climax of his crusade - an impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate - succeeded in sweeping away the formidable, organized opposition to the tax and the measure was approved in 1882. The revenues from this new tax, however, proved insufficient to provide for the college's stability and continued growth. With the financial situation of the institution in question, Patterson considered other means of fundraising. When all other options had been exhausted he secured a personal loan to procure the needed money.
Patterson proved a capable chief executive, administering the daily operations and affairs of the A&M College wisely and economically, although he was criticized by his detractors as unduly tyrannical and miserly, the latter particularly as it related to the salaries of employees and to physical expansion. Many in the community and state likewise felt that the president was wrongly removing the college from its moorings in agricultural and engineering instruction, as mandated by the Morrill Land-Grant Act, and setting it on a course of becoming an essentially liberal arts institution. Increasing curricular diversification led to moves to upgrade the school's official academic classification and Patterson with his Board of Trustees in 1908 successfully lobbied the General Assembly in support of changing the school's name to: "State University, Lexington, Kentucky." He continued as President for two more years, assisting in the transition of the institution to University status. In 1910 he retired from the presidency. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved his stipulated conditions which included: attendance at Board and faculty meetings; serving as advisor to the incoming President and as representative of the University on the state and national level; and continued residence in the campus house built for the President in 1882, which he occupied until his death in 1922. The life and legacy of Kentucky's "Pater Universitatis" are today honored in University buildings and a roadway that bear his name, and in the seated statue of the founder, erected in 1934, which sits adjacent to the institution's Administration Building and astride the campus he built and nurtured.
(from http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/libpage.php?lweb_id=320&llib_id=13)
Scope and Content
The James K. Patterson presidential papers consist of his personal and professional correspondence, speeches and notes, books, reports, documents and financial material associated with the Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) College, published materials, and photographs. Also included are materials relating to Lucelia Patterson and their son William Andrew Patterson, such as correspondence, notes, photographs, and a scrapbook devoted to the memory of William Andrew Patterson.
These materials span most of the years of Patterson's life and beyond, from 1856 to 1957, and document the arduous work Patterson accomplished in order to sustain the A&M College following the Civil War and eventually establishing the school as a State College.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The intellectual rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections and Digital Programs.

Contents of the Collection

Correspondence, 1905-1956

Scope and Contents note

The Correspondence series consists of letters written and received by James Patterson and has been further subdivided by type of correspondence, subject, and sender.

Professional Correspondence, 1880-1936

Scope and Contents note

Includes correspondence relating to the operations of A&M College, particularly administrative, as well as correspondence between parents and students. Faculty applications and county student appointments are also found in the form of correspondence. Of particular note is the correspondence between Patterson and the state and national government, including a letter from Woodrow Wilson, as he worked to attain the title of State College.

Administrative, May 1880-August 1882

  • Box 1, folder 1
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Administrative, September 1882-January 1884

  • Box 1, folder 2
To top

Administrative, 1884-1885

  • Box 1, folder 3
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Administrative, July 1885-September 1886

  • Box 1, folder 4
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Administrative, October 1886-February 1888

  • Box 1, folder 5
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Administrative, 1888-1892

  • Box 1, folder 6
To top

Administrative, 1893-1896

  • Box 1, folder 7
To top

Administrative, 1897-1900

  • Box 2, folder 1
To top

Administrative, May 1900-May 1903

  • Box 2, folder 2
To top

Administrative, August 1903-June 1905

  • Box 2, folder 3
To top

Administrative, 1905-1909

  • Box 2, folder 4
To top

Academic, 1879-1936, undated

  • Box 2, folder 5
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Agricultural Experiment Station, 1882-1900

  • Box 3, folder 1
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Agricultural Experiment Station, 1887-1889

  • Box 3, folder 2
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Agricultural Experiment Station, 1900-1909

  • Box 3, folder 3
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Agricultural Experiment Station Reports, 1906, 1910-1911

  • Box 3, folder 4
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County Student Appointments, 1887-1889

  • Box 3, folder 5
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Faculty Applications, 1880-1884

  • Box 3, folder 6
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Faculty Applications, January 1885-July 1887

  • Box 3, folder 7
To top

Faculty Applications, 1888-1899

  • Box 4, folder 1
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Faculty Applications, 1900-1909

  • Box 4, folder 2
To top

Financial, 1878-1884

  • Box 4, folder 3
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Financial, 1885-1917

  • Box 4, folder 4
To top

Parents and Students, 1881-1884

  • Box 4, folder 5