SEARCH UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES
Prepared by Katy L. Watts, December 14, 2005
4 document cases, 1 flat oversized box, 2 cubic feet, 11th floor
John Edward McGilvrey was born on January 8, 1867. After graduating from The Indiana State Normal School in 1892, McGilvrey married Mary Kelly on June 6, 1894. Later, McGilvrey received his Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree in philosophy from Indiana University in 1895 and an honorary Doctorate in philosophy from Miami University of Oxford in 1915. Before being selected as the first President of Kent State Normal School in 1911, John McGilvrey held a variety of positions in the field of education. He first served as a professor of education at Illinois University and later accepted the post as principal of Cleveland Normal School in 1899. After serving in that capacity for nine years, McGilvrey accepted a position as the headmaster of a boys' home in Hudson, Ohio before being chosen as the head of the education department at Western Illinois Normal School in 1911.
Shortly after, McGilvrey was selected as the President of Kent State Normal School and served in that position from his residence in Illinois during his first year in order to still serve Western Illinois State Normal School. During this time, McGilvrey implemented extension systems at both schools, which became his most important contribution to the field of education. This allowed for Kent State Normal School to establish a curriculum before the main campus was opened for classes in 1913. Extension programs authorized students to take classes at different locations throughout Ohio and receive credit through Kent State Normal School. Also, McGilvrey increased school enrollment and led the transition from normal school to normal college. He created Educational Summer Tours which permitted students to receive college credit for class trips, pushed for stronger summer term curricula to increase attendance, fought for and succeeded in having nine buildings built on front campus, and created correspondence courses for college credit.
McGilvrey's battle over state allocated funds with The Ohio State University, which received the largest amount of funding despite northeastern Ohio having the largest regional population in 1923, led to high tension between state universities and was one of the reasons that Kent State's Board of Trustees decided to fire him in 1926. After leaving Kent State, McGilvrey and his son, Robert, owned and maintained the Kent Silver Fox Farm. Later in 1934, McGilvrey was granted the title of President Emeritus by the University and was charged to head alumni relations. In his endeavors with alumni, McGilvrey fought for offering athletic scholarships and transforming the college into a university. McGilvrey's dream of Kent State becoming a university became reality when the State of Ohio Legislature passed a bill in 1935. McGilvrey's last major contribution to the University was raising funds to build a new science building, McGilvrey Hall, that was named in his honor on July 20, 1940. John McGilvrey died on October 3, 1945 at the age of 78.
This collection contains materials documenting the early history of Kent State, as well as documents pertaining to the evolution of collegiate education reform in the early 20th century. Kent State materials include dance cards, songbooks, and postcards. Educational reform materials consist of legislative documents, correspondence, and financial appropriation charts. Also, photographs in the collection depict professional and student life at Kent State, most dating from 1912-1919. Personal materials of John McGilvrey in this collection include diplomas, business records, and a marriage certificate. Many materials in this collection were originally placed in a series of scrapbooks kept by the late president. Documents and photographs were removed from the scrapbook for preservation purposes; newsclippings from the scrapbooks are partially or completely intact.
Note: More information on the life of John E. McGilvrey can be found in the book, The Years of Youth: Kent State University, 1910-1960, which is catalogued in KentLINK.
Series 1: Professional and Personal Materials
Items within this series include documents and memorabilia pertaining to McGilvrey's professional positions in the field of education, and documents concerning his silver fox farm business. The majority of this series consists of Kent State materials that cover student life, adminstration, faculty and staff, collegiate events, and political issues involving the school; these documents date from 1912-1945.
Series 2: Photographs
The majority of photographs document Kent State Normal College, with the exception of one photograph of McGilvrey's silver fox farm. Most Kent State photos date from 1912-1919; these photographs depict extension classes, head shots of students, faculty pictures, and pictures of campus buildings.
Series 3: Oversized Materials
Materials in this series include college diplomas of John McGilvrey and his wife, Mary (Reed) McGilvrey, which date from 1894-1915. Other notable items are the couple's marriage license and a panoramic postcard of Kent State Normal College faculty, staff, and students, dated 1922. Also, a printing plate of McGilvrey's silver fox farm is present in this series.
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Note: Photo captions have been provided by Special Collections staff.