Chappell, J. Wilbert and Ellen A. Papers, 1946-1978 *JMU Faculty Papers*

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Descriptive Summary


Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: J. Wilbert and Ellen A. Chappell Papers, 1946-1978

Collection No.: SC 0200
Creator: Chappell, Ellen Aileen Harris, 1914-2006; Chappell, James Wilbert, 1906-1989

Extent: 3 folders; .16 cubic feet

Language: English

Abstract: The J. Wilbert and Ellen A. Chappell Papers, 1946-1978, consist of three folders of congratulatory letters, Faculty Wives Sewing Circle programs, photographs, and miscellany.


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 Collection Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Preferred Citation: [identification of item], [box #, folder #], Chappell, J. Wilbert and Ellen A. Papers, 1947-1978, SC 0200, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Acquisition Information: Materials within this collection were donated by Mary Ann Chappell, the Chappells' daughter-in-law, as two separate accessions between 2009 and 2010.
Processing Information: Congratulatory letters were removed from the scrapbook and placed loose in their original order in an acid-free folder.In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in 2017-2018. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 5022.

Bio/Historical Note:

Born in Paola, Kansas, James Wilbert Chappell (1906-1989) was the son of George Lee Chappell and Mary Adeline Smith Chappell. He graduated from Ottowa University in 1929 and received his Master's and Doctoral degrees from the University of Kansas. He married Ellen Aileen Harris on December 22, 1936. After becoming assistant professor of chemistry at Fort Hays State College in Kansas, where he taught from 1935-1943, Dr. Chappell joined the faculty at Madison College where he served as chair of the Chemistry Department until 1971. He retired as professor emeritus in 1975. Dr. Chappell was a member of various national panhellenic societies and local organizations including the Harrisonburg Kiwanis Club.

Ellen Aileen Harris (1914-2006) was born in Lawrence, Kansas to Allen Shackleford Harris and Martha Washington Harris. She graduated from the University of Kansas with an A.B. degree and also pursued graduate work at James Madison University. Upon moving to Harrisonburg in 1943, Ellen Chappell taught fifth grade at Mt. Clinton, Bridgewater, and Pleasant Valley Elementary schools and was active in various local organizations including the Lanier Garden Club and the Rockingham Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. She was also the founder of the Madison College Faculty Wives Sewing Circle, which later became the James Madison University Women's Club.

Scope and Content:

The J. Wilbert and Ellen A. Chappell Papers, 1946-1978, consist of three folders of congratulatory letters, Faculty Wives Sewing Circle programs, photographs, and miscellany.

The collection is comprised primarily of congratulatory letters addressed to Dr. Chappell in celebration of his retirement in 1975. The letters, originally compiled in a scrapbook, were written by various members of the JMU community including faculty members and Dr. Chappell's former students. Also present are other materials relating to Dr. Chappell's retirement such as luncheon invitations and a guest list. Nine programs from the Faculty Wives Sewing Circle, dating from 1946 to 1958, are also included. A folder of miscellany contains a black and white photograph of a groundbreaking ceremony with corresponding negative and enlarged print as well as other ephemera. The identity of the photographed persons, with the exception of Dr. Chappell, is unknown.


The collection is arranged topically in three folders.


Daily News-Record, June 3, 1989 and March 20, 2006.


Folder Title
Box : Folder
Congratulatory Letters and Retirement, 1974-1975
Faculty Wives Sewing Club Programs, 1946-1958
Miscellany, 1978, undated

Compiled by: Tiffany W. Cole, July 2010