A Guide to the

Julian A. Burruss Papers, 1904-2005

UA 0023

Compiled by: Sarah Roth-Mullet, January 2018

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: Julian A. Burruss Papers, 1904-2005

Collection No.: UA 0023

Creator: Julian Ashby Burruss

Extent: 8 folders; .4 cubic feet

Language: English

Abstract: The collection contains papers and correspondences, reports and speeches by President Julian Ashby Burruss, first president of the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg, and documents related to the founding of the school.

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 been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).
Preferred Citation: [identification of item], [box #, folder #], Julian Ashby Burruss Papers, 1904-2005, UA 0023, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.
Acquisition Information: Immediate acquisition is not known. No accession documents are found.
Processing Notes: Some papers contain a handwritten note in the margins indicating that they were received from R.C. Dingledine in 1984.

Biographical Note

Julian Burruss was the first president of the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg, serving from 1908 to 1919. During his tenure, Burruss maintained a busy speaking schedule promoting the new school, actively recruited faculty and students, expanded administrative staff, oversaw the establishment of the Student Government Association, YWCA and other clubs and societies, and established special funds and scholarships available to eligible students. He oversaw many building projects, and created a long-range development plan for the school and grounds that would contain approximately 40 buildings and support a maximum enrollment of 1000 students.

During Burruss’ tenure, the Normal School went from an enrollment of 11 women in 1909, to a graduating class of over 300 students in 1919. During his presidency, the Normal School transitioned from offering four years of high school and two years of post-high school professional programs and teaching certificates, to offering a four-year Bachelor Science degree in Education, in addition to other programs. Burruss was a strong advocate for industrial and vocational training, and established Harrisonburg Normal School as leader in manual arts, household arts and rural arts.

Burruss was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1876. He graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 1889 with a degree in civil engineering, and did some graduate work at Columbia University. Prior to his presidency, he served four years as the head of the manual training program in the Richmond city schools. While in Harrisonburg, he was an officer in the Presbyterian church and served two years as president of the Harrisonburg Chamber of Commerce. In 1919, Burruss left the Normal School to become president of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg.

Scope and Content

The Julian A. Burruss Papers contain documents related to the establishment of the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg, including a 1904 report to the Joint Committee of the General Assembly of Virginia on Location of State Normal School titled “State Female Normal School: Reasons and Inducements for Its Location at Harrisonburg” by A. H. Snyder and George E Sipe. It also contains a newspaper clipping from the May 26, 1904 Daily News-Record – “Stating the case for Harrisonburg, Committee on Normal School here to investigate.”

Of note in the correspondence file are Burruss’ exchanges with and president of the senior class, Alpha Holcolme, regarding regulations proposed by senior class (1913), letters regarding Burruss’ decision to accept the position of President at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (1919), and correspondence with M’Ledge Moffett, Dean of Women at the State Teachers College in East Radford, Virginia (1939). The file contains photocopies of a 1917 letter from Burruss to George W. Chappelear, then of the Miller School in Virginia, inviting him to a position as a biology instructor and head of buildings and grounds.

The files include several reports and speeches, including the “Report and Bylaws, Virginia Normal School Board,” July 1, 1914 - January 1, 1916, and a report titled “Normal School Organization and Administration: Some Recommendations Relative Thereto with Special Reference to the State Normal School for Women, Harrisonburg , Virginia,” written in 1918.

The papers include news releases from 1914-1919, most of which were prepared for the Virginia Journal of Education.


Documents are arranged topically. Papers originating from R.C. Dingledine and Dr. John Wayland are contained in folders of the same title.

“President Burruss Papers,” Founding Documents in Special Collections, James Madison University. Accessed January 8, 2018. http://www.lib.jmu.edu/special/FoundingDocs/burruss/default.aspx.

Dingledine, Raymond C. Dingledine, Jr. “Madison College: the First Fifty Years, 1908-1958,” Harrisonburg, VA: Madison College. 1959.

Related Material

Records of Julian A. Burruss, President, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, RG 2/8, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.


Folder Title

Box : Folder

Founding Documents, 1904-1908


Reports and Speeches, 1910-1931


Correspondences, 1910-1939, 2005


News Releases, 1914-1919


Programs, 1915-1917


Papers from John Wayland file, 1919-1932


Papers received from R. C. Dingledine, 1984


Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1904-1937