Keister, William H. Collection, 1924-1955

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Descriptive Summary


Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: William H. Keister Papers, 1924-1955

Collection No.: SC 0123
Creator: Keister, William Hampton, 1865-1962

Extent: 1 box; .17 cubic feet

Language: English

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


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 (

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

Acquisition Information:
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.

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.

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.


The collection is arranged topically in three folders.


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.


Folder Title
Box : Folder
Correspondence, 1941, 1944, undated
Miscellany, 1924, 1934, 1955
Bound Volume of "Letters of Apppreciation of William H. Keister", 1941

Compiled by: Mindy Tanner, January 1991; Tiffany Cole, May 2010