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Carmon Ross Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 100-016

Scope and Contents

During Dr. Ross's administration, the organizational structure of the college was very flat. He was directly involved in almost all aspects of the college's administration, from obtaining funding from the state government to supplying milk and coal for the campus. Dr. Ross apparently did not involve himself much with the faculty (other than personnel matters) or with specific programs and departments. Presumably, he left these matters up to the Dean of Instruction (Elmer C. Stilling until 1936, then William A. Wheatley until 1939). Documented within these materials are matters relating to personnel, budget and finances, the daily operations of the college, building projects and facilities maintenance, athletics, specific campus issues and events, college development, Pennsylvania state government, student recruitment and placement, community relations, and alumni. There is also correspondence and other material related to Dr. Ross's service as president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and with the National Education Association. Drafts and reprints of some of his writings on teacher education are also included. Most folders contain carbon copies of Dr. Ross's correspondence, and original correspondence, often hand-written, to him. Many folders contain a variety of document types, including memoranda, publications, statistics, proposals, reports, printed programs, catalogs, and meeting summaries. Some significant items in the collection are listed below. BOX- FOLDER ITEM 13- Anniversary 75 Script of radio broadcast: "Edinboro as an agency of service" April 17, 1936 13- A - various corres. Constitution of the Alpha Delta Sorority 14- K - various corres. Panel discussion: "What, if anything, can and should the high school contribute in common to all its student participants?" March 15, 1938 15- Marking Systems Report: "College marking systems and related functions, State Teachers Colleges in Pennsylvania 1938-1939," survey made by Carmon Ross, November 17, 1939 15- National Youth Administration Lists of students, assignments and amount paid 15- Public Instruction Dept. - Lester K. Ade, Supt. Biennial report by Ross (1936-38) 16- Public Instruction Dept. - printed memos "The provisions in the State Teachers Colleges of Pennsylvania for laboratory-school experience in teaching in the elementary grades," abstract for Lester K. Ade's Ph.D. thesis (NYU: 1931) 16- P - various corres. "Survey of steam and electric requirements, Edinboro State Teachers College, Edinboro Pa." December 7, 1936 16- Requisitions Library budget report, May 1, 1937 16- R - various corres. Correspondence with Rambusch Decorating Co., New York City, regarding ten misspelled names on ceiling of auditorium that they painted 17- Liberal arts college Various reports by Romeyn H. Rivenburg on the role of liberal arts colleges in training teachers, along with Ross's response, 1934-35 17- Photographs to 1934 Photos of students, activities, and campus 17- Publicity Typed draft of Ross's inaugural address 17- Report - West Chester State Normal School Reports and papers written by Ross 18- Student Council Meeting minutes and budgets 18- Trustees Reports by Ross 19- Alumni, 1934-35 Edinboro graduates, 1925-1934 19- American Association of Teachers Colleges 1934 Report for accreditation, November 1, 1935, including list of articles by Ross, 1933-35 19- Appropriation Matters "Edinboro prepares for the Summer Session and next year" (press release) 20- Conference - Super-intendents & Principals Meeting program: "How Edinboro can help the schools in its area," November 3, 1934 20- Faculty Committee reports, faculty meeting agendas/minutes 20- Inauguration of Dr. Ross Texts of speeches


  • 1931-1957
  • 1934-1939


Biographical or Historical Information

Carmon Ross, the second president of Edinboro State Teachers College, was born on 28 February 1884 in New York City. He earned his Ph.B. in Scientific Latin from Lafayette College in 1905, where he was a charter member of the Phi Delta Kappa chapter. He earned his A.M. in Educational Administration in 1916 and his Ph.D. in Education in 1922 from the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, he was editor of the College Annual, Business Manager of the College Magazine, and secretary of his class. His doctoral thesis was titled The status of county teachers' institutes in Pennsylvania. He was Superintendent of Schools in Doylestown, Pennsylvania from 1906 to 1934. He also directed the demonstration schools at State College during the summers of 1921-1933. Ross was elected president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association in 1934. He served on many other organizations, including the New Jersey School Survey Commission, the Pinchot School Finance Commission, and the Ten-Year Plan for Pennsylvania Education Commission. He was a long time member of the National Education Association, serving on its Committee on Higher Education in 1936. Ross was elected president of Edinboro State Teachers College on 9 April 1934. He was officially appointed by the college on June 1, and his inauguration was held November 23. He served on the Budget Committee of the Board of Presidents of the State Teachers Colleges in 1938-39. After resigning from Edinboro on 15 August 1940, he worked briefly for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction, before becoming superintendent of schools in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, a post he held from 1941 to 1945. He became executive director of the Public Education Association of Pennsylvania shortly before his death in 1946, from complications following an operation. He is buried in Doylestown. Ross married Emma W. Kratz on 30 December 1914. They had three daughters, Angela, Barbara, and Catherine. Mrs. Ross succumbed to influenza on 17 February 1937, after a long illness. Dr. Ross was remarried in 1941 to Mary E. Read. Dr. Russell E. Vance, in his history of the college, wrote that Ross "seemed to possess a pedantic attitude which was not appreciated by many." This attitude comes across clearly in some of Ross's correspondence, especially in letters to bureaucrats in Harrisburg, whose sole function seemed to be denying his requests for purchases. Celestia Hershey, a retired teacher, came to his defense in a letter to State Superintendent Lester K. Ade, when she wrote that "you have [in Ross] a president who possesses knowledge, idealism, and all other necessary qualities except, perhaps, tact." His inner nature is indicated in a postscript to a get-well note from a friend after one of his many illnesses, in which she urged him to "take things more easily than you generally do." His health was a perennial problem, punctuating his personal crises. He thought of resigning in 1935, less than a year after coming to Edinboro, possibly in response to his fight to defend the college from attempts by the legislature and private colleges to close or restrict the role of the public colleges. He was ill in the winter of 1936-37, but continued working. In 1936, as he planned for the college's 75th anniversary, rumor spread that a new board would soon replace him. His wife fell ill later that year and died in February 1937. He suffered a heart attack at the end of that year and spent several weeks recuperating, but pushed himself back to work to prepare for the ground breaking for four new buildings in early 1938. Less than a year later he was undergoing an operation at the Cleveland Clinic. A student from the Class of 1937 who was close to the Ross family described him as "ambitious" both intellectually and professionally, but somewhat distant personally. Although his correspondence demonstrates his deep concern for the well-being and success of the Edinboro students, the dedication to him in the Conneauttean does not seem as warm as the ones for Presidents Crawford or Van Houten. His portrait in the 1940 issue shows a man visibly aged from the one who came to the college six years earlier. Although only 56 years old, he was not well and had only six more years to live. Vance suggests that "local political issues" led to the decision of the board of trustees to request Ross's resignation. He points out that Ross had to make tough decisions during a very difficult time in the college's history. This fact, along with his lack of the common touch, did not enhance his popularity. Whatever the reasons, he "presented his resignation as President of the College to become effective on August 15, 1940" at a special meeting of the board on 6 April 1940, "for the good and welfare of Edinboro State Teachers College." Administrative History: Edinboro State Teachers College faced challenges throughout Dr. Ross's administration. As he said in his inaugural address, "These are the days that truly try men's souls." The state government slashed spending on the state teachers colleges by fifty percent in response to the economic calamity of the early 1930s. All faculty and staff were given ten percent pay cuts in 1933, and Edinboro employees lost an additional eight percent of their salaries. He worked for years to restore the pay cuts, finally succeeding in 1938. In cases where there was some doubt about an employee's salary before the cuts, he fought to get the most money possible for his faculty and staff. When Ross became president of Edinboro, the legislature was discussing closing up to four of the state schools. He joined with others in the community to defend the state colleges. He felt it necessary to issue a press release in 1935 to refute rumors that the college would close. At about the same time, a group of private liberal arts colleges in the state mounted a campaign to bar the state teachers colleges from providing training in secondary education. Romeyn H. Rivenburg, Dean of Bucknell University, wrote numerous studies to support the campaign in 1934 and early 1935. Ross responded with a "Summary of a case for State Teachers Colleges," and wrote to other college presidents to organize resistance. After a series of statewide meetings the effort was defeated. To offset the budget cuts, student fees and room and board had to be raised, creating hardship for many students who already had trouble making ends meet. An alumni loan fund was set up to help those in need to defray these costs. Dr. Ross also made extensive use of the new federal assistance programs, especially the Works Progress Administration and the National Youth Administration, to provide jobs for students and others in the community. These programs had the additional benefit of providing labor for long-overdue maintenance and repairs on campus. In addition to such menial tasks, the WPA also supported "white collar" projects. For example, Edinboro received over $1800 to hire a librarian to catalog 16,000 books for the library. Student artists were also used to paint murals in Normal Hall. Fewer than 300 students were enrolled at Edinboro, counting full and part-time, in any year that Ross was president. He attempted to recruit new students by sending information and representatives to local high schools, and inviting seniors to the college to meet with faculty and tour campus. Beyond personnel matters, Ross apparently did not involve himself much with faculty or departmental affairs, if his papers are any guide. Even though the college catalog lists twenty-three standing faculty committees in 1938-39, Ross kept almost no files on them. Ross probably relied on the Dean of Instruction, a position he strengthened after becoming president, as his intermediary with the faculty. However, if either Elmer C. Stilling, who held the post until 1936, or William A. Wheatley, who served until 1939, ever prepared written reports for him, they were not filed with his papers. Faculty at the state teachers colleges formed the Association of State Teachers College Faculty in Pennsylvania in 1937. They met with the Board of Presidents and state legislators to influence pay, benefits, curricula, syllabi and teacher certification. In 1938, faculty ranks of Professor, Assistant Professor and Instructor were established. Edinboro's faculty lacked the desired number of full professors, and Ross tried to increase the number who possessed the doctorate. Because of the budget cuts, he was unable to recruit new faculty until late in his term as president. He hired C. J. Christensen as Instructor in Rural Education in 1938, to run a model one-room school on campus. Carroll Atkinson also joined the faculty in the fall of 1938. Ross brought in Orville R. Bailey in the fall of 1939 as the new Dean of Men, health education instructor, and assistant athletic coach. Bailey was to take over coaching football, track and swimming from Coach "Sox" Harrison. Ross was apparently trying to oust Harrison, but Bailey never coached any sports, and was gone by 1942. In addition to the new faculty members, Ross was also able to hire Hazel Ober as resident nurse/dietician, and made Dr. Harold Ghering the first full-time college physician. New diagnostic equipment was provided for the college clinic for screening students' health. Two significant changes were made to the college curriculum during the Ross administration. A two-year core curriculum was established in 1935. In 1937, a thorough revision was conducted which made the curriculum less specialized. Starting in 1939, all Edinboro students had to pursue a degree in order to obtain state certification to teach. Ross was able to procure the latest technology for the classroom, including radio equipment, film projectors, and sound recording devices. He also strengthened the library's budget for materials and supplies. Dr. Ross reached out to the community in many ways. He invited parents to campus for "Guest Day," and began regular vesper services one Sunday a month, using local clergy. The college advertised "lecture/entertainment courses" to the general public for $2, as well as extension courses. It offered various services to local public schools, such as library loans, performances by an instrumental trio, and speech testing. Ross organized a conference of superintendents and principals at the college shortly after becoming president, on the topic of "How Edinboro can help the schools in its area." He made use of radio broadcasts to publicize special events on campus, and explored the idea of a regular show about the college. The student newspaper, The Spectator, began publishing bi-monthly in 1935. Ross supported the students' efforts by procuring advertisements for the paper from local businesses. He also made use of the student activity fees to bring the latest films to the campus for screening, as well as many noted lecturers and performing artists, including Gutzon Borglum, Will Durant, Robert Frost, Rockwell Kent, and Carl Sandburg. Edinboro gained regional and national recognition under Ross's direction by joining the Eastern States Association and the American Association of Teachers Colleges in 1935. Ross also applied for Edinboro's membership in the Middle States Association. Locally, he was instrumental in the formation of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Schoolmen's Club, composed of superintendents, principals and college faculty. The two most noteworthy single events during Dr. Ross's stewardship of Edinboro were the celebration of the college's 75th anniversary, and the construction of four new buildings. At the diamond jubilee held on 23 April 1936, Governor George H. Earle of Pennsylvania surprised attendees by arriving from Harrisburg via private plane, to deliver his address on "The Interest of the State in the Education of Teachers" in the college auditorium. State officials, educators from throughout the northeast, and prominent alumni joined with faculty and students in the ceremonies. In its review of Edinboro's history for the celebration, the Erie Daily Times reported that during Dr. Ross's administration "the college has continued its growth and has greatly extended its service as an educational center to the surrounding communities. Dr. Ross has also made substantial improvements in equipment and buildings, and has established a student-faculty co-operative government which has been unusually successful." In conjunction with the anniversary, the first annual Rural School Conference and Music Festival brought educators from all over the region to campus for the weekend. The conference continued to be held every spring during Ross's administration. Dr. Ross worked with the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Property and Supplies, and lobbied state legislators for years in order to obtain $742,000 in federal funding for four new buildings. On 11 February 1938, ground was broken for a teacher training school (now called Compton Hall), and a new gymnasium, auditorium and power plant. State and local officials gathered outside with college and community members and students for the ceremony, which was broadcast live on radio station WLEU in Erie. This expansion of the physical plant would serve the college well when enrollment greatly increased after World War Two.Note written by Barry Gray


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Dr. Carmon Ross was the second president of Edinboro State Teachers College. He presided over the school's seventy-fifth anniversary and laid the plans for a significant expansion of the campus facilities. His papers include correspondence, reports, clippings, photos, etc. dealing with personnel, curriculum, finance, alumni, physical plant, and virtually every other aspect of the college. The papers show how the college struggled to maintain service through the darkest years of the Great Depression, when the survival of the college was in doubt. They also document how, through his leadership in state and national education associations, Dr. Ross championed the role of public higher education in training teachers for elementary and secondary schools.


These administrative records are divided into two chronological sets. The first series covers the years 1931-1957 (bulk: 1934-1935), and the second covers the years 1934-1946 (bulk: 1936-1939). The division reflects the change in secretaries who maintained the files, from Harriet Chapman to Nellie Ellenberger. Since they were maintained by different staff members over time there is overlap between the series. Because of this, the researcher should consult both series for all documents on a particular subject. Both series combine subject and correspondence files into one alphabetical run. However, please note that files for the letters S-Z from the second series are interfiled with the first series in box 18. Although Dr. Ross was president of the college until 15 August 1940, his papers end in 1939. Some folders contain material from the administrations of his predecessor, Charles C. Crawford, or his successor, Lyman H. Van Houten. The removal of the files from Normal Hall may have disordered the folders. There are folders for each letter of the alphabet labeled "various correspondence" which generally contain correspondence with individuals, but do include some official correspondence as well. In the early series, this "various correspondence" is usually filed by the person's last name, while in the later series they are usually filed by the name of the institution. The records combine subject and correspondence files into one alphabetical run. Certain topics within each series are listed under general headings such as "Memos," while others appear by themselves within the alphabetical run. Therefore, the researcher should explore various headings and word configurations to obtain all information within these records on a particular topic. Inclusive dates are provided after each folder title. To assist the researcher, cross references are provided from general topics to folders that contain material relating to them. For example, the heading "Campus" refers to other folders dealing with building and grounds, construction or maintenance of the campus. Some cross references are also provided between folders containing related material. Because of overlap, the researcher should consult both series for information on any given subject or person. For example, both series include a folder containing correspondence with Lester K. Ade, Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction. In some cases, correspondence with a person or on a topic may be split between a named folder and one of the "various correspondence" folders.

Custodial History

Russell Vance, author of a book on the history of Edinboro State College, said the materials were salvaged from Normal Hall during the fire.  The materials were then in storage for years before he became aware of them.  When he discovered them they were in scattered about the room in no order.  It is not clear how they arrived in the university archive from that point.

Source of Acquisition

Legacy collection
Barry Gray
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Edinboro University Archives Repository