Skip to main content


Special Collections Online at UT

Summer School of the South Collection

Identifier: AR-0750

  • Staff Only

This collection contains items related to the Summer School of the South, run by the University of Tennessee from 1902 to 1918. The collection is divided into five series: Summer School of the South Materials; Correspondence; Business and Administrative Materials; Lecturer and Entertainer Materials; and Oversize Materials.


  • 1897-1953 August 4
  • Majority of material found within 1902 - 1914

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. See for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.

Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


14 Linear Feet

Biographical/Historical Note

This collection contains items related to the Summer School of the South, was a major instrument of regional educational improvement, facilitated by the University of Tennessee, from 1902 to 1918. The Summer School of the South instructing approximately thirty-two thousand teachers in the art of education.

The Summer School was founder by University of Tennessee 11th President Charles W. Dabney, to change what he saw as the lamentable state of southern educational experience. With the 1902 arrival in Knoxville of Philander P. Claxton, agent of the Southern Education Board, Dabney found the man to change this situation. Using money raised locally and nationally, Dabney hired Claxton to create a summer school for teachers--the Summer School of the South--an independent institution that would be located on the University of Tennessee campus.

The dual goals of the Summer School were to improve southern education by improving southern educators and to turn the region's teachers into agitators for more educational resources. When the school opened, more than nineteen hundred teachers were in attendance, and a distinguished faculty had been assembled to instruct them. Of the fifty-one faculty members, eight were present or former university presidents. Further gracing the faculty were the prominent southern writer Walter Hines Page and U.S. Commissioner of Education William T. Harris. Later sessions would also attract such noted instructors as John Dewey, Richard T. Ely, and U. B. Phillips. The Summer School faculty offered teachers a wide variety of subjects to study. Supplementing formal instruction were cultural activities such as performances of classical plays and orchestral music. From 1902 to 1911the Summer School was quite a success with full enrollment and funding. After Claxton's departure in 1911 to become the U.S. commissioner of education, however, the school came under the complete direction of the University of Tennessee which did not the able ability to sustain the program on its own. The next seven years saw a dramatic declined in attendance and after the 1918 session the university closed the school.


The collection is divided into five series: Series I: Summer School of the South Materials Series II: Correspondence; Series III: Business and Administrative Materials Series III: Lecturer and Entertainer Materials; Series IV: Oversize Materials.

The first series contains the school's charter, copies of the school's student newspapers and superintendent reports, information about the courses offered, inventories for housing and laundry, and other materials pertaining to student life at the school. The second series consists of correspondence about the school and includes student employment, housing, faculty, superintendent, business and administrative, and lecturer and entertainer correspondence. The third series contains items related to the administration of the school and business that the school conducted with outside companies, including receipts, checks, and expense vouchers. The fourth series includes brochures and pamphlets sent to the school by prospective lecturers and entertainers, as well as a few contracts signed between the school and some of the entertainers. The fifth series contains oversize materials within the collection, including bound volumes of the student newspapers, scrapbooks, and an informational booklet.

This collection consists of nine regular boxes, one half box, one quarter box, and three oversize boxes.

Previous Citation

This collection was previously listed as AR.0215, AR.0237, AR.0249, AR.0283, AR.0467, and AR.0478.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA