Robert Lee Flowers, born in 1870, spent his entire professional career at Duke University. From 1891 to 1951, Flowers served in a variety of capacities, including professor (1891-1924), vice president of the business division (1925-1941), president (1941-1948), and chancellor (1948-1951). Types of material in the collection include correspondence, memoranda, reports, clippings, bound volumes, and other printed material. Major subjects include higher education in the United States, the role of universities during World War II, the assistance of displaced scholars during World War II, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and organizations in which Flowers served, including the Duke Endowment, the Durham Chamber of Commerce, the Durham and Southern Railway Company, Greensboro College, North Carolina Central University, the Methodist Orphanage, the Oxford Orphanage, and the Lincoln Hospital. Major correspondents include William Hayes Ackland, George Garland Allen, Alexander Boyd Andrews, John Fletcher Bruton, Homer Hasenlue Dubs, Benjamin Newton Duke, William Washington Flowers, Allen Howard Godbey, Edward R. Murrow, Edward Hines Page, William Robertson Perkins, Alexander Hamilton Sands, Jr., James Augustus Thomas, and Horace Trumbauer. English. Volumes include two autograph albums.
Collection includes office files of the vice president and president of Duke University. The position of vice president included duties as secretary and treasurer. The official files consist of correspondence, memoranda, reports, printed matter and other materials received or generated by these offices. The first series, Correspondence is arranged chronologically, and the second series, Subject Files alphabetically. Besides University records, the subject files include material on higher education in America, the role of colleges and universities during World War II, the committee to assist displaced scholars, Methodist Church activities and administration, and records of the various organizations for which Flowers served as a trustee. The collection includes a series of several Volumes comprising Trinity grade books from the 1890s, an autograph album, an album of clippings and autographs, and a volume of letters in tribute to Flowers's 79th birthday.