Irvine S. Ingram Papers Open for Research

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The papers of Irvine S. Ingram, president of West Georgia College from 1933 to 1960, have been processed and are now open for research in Ingram Library’s Annie Belle Weaver Special Collections on the University of West Georgia campus in Carrollton. The Irvine S. Ingram papers contain a wealth of information not only on the educator who led the college for many decades, but also on the development of higher education in Georgia during the 20th century.

The papers of Irvine S. Ingram, president of West Georgia College from 1933 to 1960, have been processed and are now open for research in Ingram Library’s Annie Belle Weaver Special Collections on the University of West Georgia campus in Carrollton.Irvine S. Ingram became principal of the Fourth District A&M School, a forerunner of the University of West Georgia, in 1920. In 1933, he was appointed president of West Georgia College, a two-year teachers college, when the A&M system of schools was abolished by the state Legislature.

Privately known as “Izzy” to his students, Ingram led the college in offering desperately needed teacher training to the West Georgia region.

He obtained substantial grants from the Julius Rosenwald Fund during the Depression and early years of World War II, without which many programs and buildings on the campus would not have been possible. Ingram developed College in the Country, a nationally recognized program for rural education training and adult education, including programs for African Americans. He pushed for the four-year degree program, which the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents approved in 1957. The university’s library was named for Ingram in 1980 at the dedication of its addition.

Ingram was known for not bowing to the pressures of segregationists during the 1950s. His invitation to Atlanta editor Ralph McGill to speak at West Georgia College’s 1959 commencement, the same year that McGill addressed the United Negro College Fund, was deplored by a local “states rights” organization. Ingram stood by his invitation and received numerous letters of support from lawyers, clergymen, and educators. He also smoothed over a local controversy in which a student teacher at the Sand Hill Elementary School refuted a book that made the claim that African Americans were mentally inferior to whites.

A Methodist, a Democrat, and a cat-lover, Ingram was a vital part of the Carroll County community. His wife, Martha, was the daughter of college trustee George Munro and a teacher at the A&M School before her marriage to Ingram. They had one child, Anne, a retired professor who lives in Carrollton today.

The Irvine S. Ingram Collection has been cataloged and currently contains 51 boxes of materials, mostly correspondence between Ingram and other educators, members of the Board of Regents, newspapermen, governors, and numerous movers and shakers in Georgia politics and education. A later accession of his collection is as yet unprocessed.

Concurrent with the release of Ingram’s papers is the conversion to DVD of a 1975 film entitled “I.S. Ingram a Great Georgian.” Narrated by actor Lorne Greene, the film reviews Ingram’s life, including interviews with Ingram himself, his family, and other educators, and also offers a good overview of the University of West Georgia’s history. The 30-minute film was part of a University of Georgia series on “Great Georgians,” including Carl Vinson, Lamar Dodd, and Benjamin Mays among others. The DVD is available in the library’s general collection.

To make an appointment to view the collection (while the library is undergoing a renovation), as well as for additional information, contact Special Collections at (678) 839-6361 or sdurham@westga.edu.