Collection - Thomas E. Will papers

Identity elements

Reference code

Level of description



Thomas E. Will papers


  • 1896-1909 (Creation)


2.00 Linear Feet

Name of creator


Biographical history

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

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Thomas E. Will papers contain business correspondence, printed material, Board of Regents minutes, reports, legal documents, notes and drafts, and newspaper clippings from 1896 to 1909, some of which is connected to Will's time as president of Kansas State Agricultural College (KSAC) from 1899 to 1901. There are approximately 430 items in the collection, which is housed in one document box. The papers are divided into seven series: 1) correspondence, 2) minutes, 3) legal documents, 4) reports, 5) printed material, 6) financial records, and 7) notes and drafts.
Correspondence with Regents, KSAC executive department members, KSAC faculty and staff, and the governor of Kansas make up a large portion of the collection. Also among correspondence are letters between J. D. Walters and Will. Many of the letters deal with normal procedures at KSAC, however, some of the correspondence concerns the resignation of President 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 (especailly Carl Vrooman and Susan St. John) to the dismissal of President Will and other college professors. Legal documents are filed in one folder, and many of them 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, the fourth series, concern the political controversies around populism that caused outrage in Manhattan and KSAC. The fifth series, printed material, makes up a large portion of the collection. Such items as programs and articles concerning KSAC, articles written by Will, a Kansas Supreme Court brief by G.C. Clemons, and newspaper clippings are included in this series. 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.

System of arrangement

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.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No access restriction: All materials are open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

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.

The current accession number is U2005.29

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: Lawrence E. Will
Acqusition Method: Donation
Acqusition Date: 19830101

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


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Notes element

General note

Preferred Citation: [Item title], [item date], Thomas E. Will papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)

Archon Collection ID


Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Author: Cindy Schneider
Processing Info: 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. Archon processing by Edward Nagurny, graduate research assistant, April 2015.
Publication Date: 2015-04-01

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Physical storage

  • Box: Boxes