W. H. Pegram papers, 1876 - 1928

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Pegram, W. H. (William Howell), 1846-1928
William Howell Pegram (1846-1928) was a student, professor, and administrator at Trinity College (N.C.). He moved with the school from Randolph County to Durham County (N.C.), and remained active as Trinity College evolved into Duke University. The W.H. Pegram Papers include correspondence, notebooks, writings, clippings, and other material. His relationship with Braxton Craven, both professionally and personally, is detailed. Among the subjects in the collection are Pegram's main academic interest, chemistry, and the administration of Trinity College in both Randolph and Durham counties. English.
1.75 Linear Feet
1700 Items
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
29 -- Papers of Faculty, Staff, and Associates
29 -- Papers of Faculty, Staff, and Associates > 02 -- Individuals


Scope and content:

The W. H. Pegram Collection includes correspondence, notebooks, writings, clippings, and other material related to Pegram's career at Trinity College and later Duke University. The first series, Personal, is a brief series containing clippings and other material regarding Pegram's career and his death in 1928. The second series Correspondence, contains letters to and from Pegram, mainly regarding administrative issues at Trinity College. There are also some letters of thanks from former students. This series is arranged chronologically. The third series is Notebooks, and contains notebooks used by Pegram for a variety of purposes: to record the attendance and grades of his students, to prepare Sunday school lessons, to work on chemistry problems, and to write essays. The notebooks are arranged by title or subject, when available, then date. The fourth series, Writings, contains several essays prepared by Pegram, as well as shorter pieces. This series is also organized by title, when available, and then date. The last series, Trinity College, contains a variety of materials related to the history of the school. These materials are not all directly related to Pegram, but they provide a historical context for his other materials. It contains clippings, articles, financial papers, and print materials about the school. These papers are organized alphabetically.

Biographical / historical:

William Howell Pegram was born August 18, 1846, in Harnett County, North Carolina. He served as a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. Following the war, he returned to his parents' farm and taught in the small schools of Harnett County. In 1869, he began college at Trinity College in Randolph County. He was regarded as an excellent student and worked closely with Braxton Craven, the president of Trinity College.

Pegram graduated in 1873, and beginning that fall, he began working as a tutor of Natural Science at Trinity. He became a full professor the following year. He would eventually serve as a professor of chemistry, astronomy, geology, and even English during his career, although chemistry was his passion. When Craven died in 1882, Pegram became chairman of the faculty, and from 1883 to 1910, he served as Secretary of the faculty. He was honored with an L.L.D. degree from Trinity in 1917, and made Professor Emeritus of Chemistry in 1919. He remained active with the school and the Department of Chemistry until his death, always staying interested in the students and faculty of his school. Pegram was one of very few faculty members to work with the school in all its phases, from its beginnings in Randolph County, to its move to Durham County, to its growth and change into Duke University in 1924. He was known as "The Grand Old Man of Duke University" by many of his students.

In 1875, Pegram married Braxton Craven's daughtor, Emma L. Craven. They had five children, all of whom attended Trinity: Annie M. Pegram, George B. Pegram, Irene C. Pegram, J. Edward Pegram, and William H. Pegram, Jr. William H. Pegram, Sr. passed away on April 30, 1928, ending a 55-year career with Duke University and Trinity College. He is buried at "Old Trinity," in Randolph County, near the grave of Braxton Craven.

Acquisition information:
The W. H. Pegram Papers were received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1978.
Processing information:

Processed by Valerie Gillispie

Completed July 8, 2004

Encoded by Valerie Gillispie, July 8, 2004

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], W. H. Pegram Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.