Keister, William H. Papers, 1924-1955

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Summary Information

Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
Keister, William Hampton, 1865-1962
William H. Keister Papers
Collection No.:
SC 0123
1 box, .17 Cubic Feet
Language of the Material:
The William H. Keister Papers, 1924-1955, consist of one bound volume of letters, loose correspondence, and miscellaneous materials pertaining to Keister.

Preferred Citation

[identification of item], [box #, folder #], William H. Keister Papers, 1924-1955, SC 0123, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

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Bio/Historical Note

William Hampton Keister (1865-1962) was born in Highland County, Virginia to William Renick and Martha McCoy Keister. He enrolled at Washington and Lee University at the age of twenty-five and upon graduation in 1894, took the position of principal to the Harrisonburg Public School where he also taught. In 1900 he married Virginia Fletcher of Harrisonburg. Keister served as President of the Virginia Education Association in 1910 and in 1916 was appointed superintendent of the Harrisonburg city schools. While he was superintendent, the Harrisonburg school system grew tremendously with new buildings and more students. The quality of education also improved as Harrisonburg High School was the first high school in the South to be accredited by the New York State Board of Regents. Keister served as a member of various community organizations including the Rotary Club, the Masons, and the Presbyterian Church. He retired in 1947 at the age of eighty-two.

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Scope and Content

The William H. Keister Papers, 1924-1955, consist of one bound volume of letters, loose correspondence, and miscellaneous materials pertaining to Keister.

The bound volume of appreciation letters from former students, friends, various state education superintendents and officials, was presented to Keister at the Mayflower Hotel in Lexington, Virginia on March 18, 1941. The collection also contains a certificate for the 1924 National Illiteracy Conference in Washington, D.C., a program for a 1934 commemorative ceremony honoring Keister, newspaper articles from the Daily News-Record's coverage of the 1955 opening of W.H. Keister Elementary School in Harrisonburg, and personal correspondence to Keister dating primarily to 1941 and 1944.

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The collection is arranged topically in three folders.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Processing Information

In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 3015.


Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

880 Madison DriveMSC 1704Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807library-special@jmu.eduURL:

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Index Terms


  • Keister, William Hampton, 1865-1962
  • Harrisonburg High School (Va.) -- History
  • Teachers -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg -- Biography
  • Educators -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg -- Biography
  • School buildings -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg
  • School children -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg
  • School facilities -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg
  • School principals -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg
  • School superintendents -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg
  • Schools -- Virginia -- Rockingham County -- History
  • Education, Elementary -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg
  • Education, Secondary -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg
  • School management and organization -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg

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Wayland, John W. A History of Rockingham County. Harrisonburg, Va.: C.J. Carrier Co., 1972.

-----Men of Mark and Representative Citizens of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Virginia: Portraits and Biographies of Men and Women. Staunton, Va.: McClure Co., 1943.

Wright, Melton. The Beloved Schoolmaster: A Biography of William Hampton Keister. Boyce, Va.: Carr Publishing Co., 1956.

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Collection Inventory

Title/Description Instances
Correspondence, 1941, 1944, undated box 1 folder 1
Miscellany, 1924, 1934, 1955 box 1 folder 2
Bound Volume of "Letters of Apppreciation of William H. Keister", 1941 box 1 folder 3