Armentrout, Ellen Frank Papers, 1961-1964 *JMU Alum Papers*

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Descriptive Summary


Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: Ellen Frank Armentrout Papers, 1961-1964

Collection No.: SC 0064
Creator: Armentrout, Ellen Frank, 1943-

Extent: 3 letter folders; .12 cubic feet

Language: English

Abstract: The Ellen Frank Armentrout Papers, 1961-1964, are comprised of facsimiles of one essay, seven letters, and 15 photographs from Armentrout's time as a student at Madison College.


Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: Collection open to 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 (

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], [box #, folder #], Ellen Frank Armentrout Papers, 1961-1964, SC 0064, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

Acquisition Information: During the spring of 2004, Ellen Frank Armentrout loaned her Madison College scrapbook to Dr. Phil Bigler, formerly of the James Madison Center, who passed it along to Pam Brock, former editor of Montpelier magazine, who forwarded it to Chris Bolgiano, former Special Collections Librarian. Bolgiano requested permission to copy the papers and photographs for inclusion in Special Collections. Armentrout granted permission to have the materials copied and the scrapbook was returned on May 5, 2004.
Alternate Formats: Low-resolution digital surrogates of the photographs are available for research (see below). Armentrout's September 1962 photograph of her dorm room in Sheldon Hall is also available at JMU Historic Photos Online.
Processing Information: The materials in this collection were loaned to Special Collections in the spring of 2004 for digitization. The letters were photocopied and the photographs were digitized at a low resolution. Photocopies of the letters and printouts of the photographs are available for research. Low-resolution digital surrogates of the photographs are also available (see below). 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 SU 2004-0505.

Bio/Historical Note:

Ellen Frank Armentrout (b. 1943), daughter of John W. and Edith Baldwin Frank of Arlington, Virginia, matriculated into Madison College in the fall of 1961. Her freshman roommate was Maryanne Matthews. Armentrout served as Recreation Chairman of the Wesley Foundation and graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science degree. She married Donald Lee "Jack" Armentrout of Keezletown, Virginia in 1964. He attended Madison College as a day student and served as the sports editor of The Breeze. Many of Armentrout's letters home to her parents describe her courtship with Jack.

Scope and Content:

The Ellen Frank Armentrout Papers, 1961-1963, are comprised of facsimiles of one essay on adjusting to college life, seven letters to her parents, and 15 photographs from Armentrout's time as a student at Madison College including May Day celebrations and dorm rooms. The materials originated from Armentrout's scrapbook which she loaned to Special Collections for selective digitization.


The collection is arranged in two series:
Series 1: Papers, 1961-1963 Series 2: Photographs, 1962-1964
Both series are arranged chronologically.


The Breeze, May 11, 1962. Harrisonburg (Va.): Madison College.

The Breeze, September 10, 1964. Harrisonburg (Va.): Madison College.

Location of Originals:

Original papers and photographs are retained by the donor.


Series 1: Papers, 1961-1963

Series 1: Papers, 1961-1963, includes an essay commenting on adjusting to college life. Armentrout writes: "You say you love college and you're getting D's in all your classes? You say you cut three classes today so you could play bridge?....Don't despair, keep your chin up: it's all an adjustment to college. I'm having the same troubles."

This series also includes seven letters written by Armentrout to her parents between March 1962 and May 1963. She provides detailed accounts of student life, extracurricular and social activities, dating, classes and coursework, and weather. Of particular interest is her letter of March 9, 1962 in which she describes a historic snow storm. Thirty-six inches of snow fell in Harrisonburg and, as a result, the students were allowed to wear slacks to class. A photo of the storm is included in this collection. In many of her letters, Armentrout describes the dating scene at Madison and comments on her social life. Of her future-husband Jack she writes: "Jack and I have a date tonight. I must confess I was wrong on two accounts about him. First – his car does have its original paint and Second – he plans to teach science and minor in biology. Everything else I said still holds true and even more so. He is a good guy."

Folder Title
Box : Folder
Essay, 1961
Correspondence, 1962-1963

Series 2: Photographs, 1962-1964

Series 2: Photographs, 1962-1964, is comprised of 15 facsimiles (and low-resolution digital surrogates) of color and black-and-white photographs taken while Armentrout was a student at Madison College. One image of the historic March 1962 snowstorm that blanketed Harrisonburg with 36 inches of snow is included. Also included are two images of dorm room interiors including a color image of Cleveland Hall, Room 106 and a black-and-white image of Sheldon Hall, Room 14; ten images of May Day celebrations (1962-1964); one image of the Smothers Brothers' November 1962 performance in the Keezell gym; and an undated image of downtown Harrisonburg.

Folder Title
Box : Folder
Photographs, 1962-1964

Compiled by: Tiffany Cole, March 2017