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Office of the President. William H. Plemmons Records

Identifier: UA 02.02

Scope and Content

Correspondence, photographic materials, speeches, administrative records, minutes, awards, clippings, and other materials document Plemmons’ long career in, and service to, public postsecondary education in North Carolina, with emphasis on the administration of Appalachian State Teachers College during Plemmons’ presidency and his continued involvement as President Emeritus. Materials also highlight his active involvement in multiple local, state, and national professional and community organizations. One linear foot of materials document the activities of the N.C. State Advisory Committee on Public Education, whose purpose was to guide North Carolina schools through the process of de-segregation.

To a lesser extent, the records offer brief glimpses into Dr. Plemmons’ personal life. Photographs and correspondence document his relationships with friends and family members and, on rare occasions, letters and speeches reveal his personal views on certain issues. Although the collection includes correspondence between Dr. Plemmons and various members of his family, very few letters document the relationship between Dr. and Mrs. Plemmons; “BeBe” Plemmons appears only occasionally in photographs and newspaper clippings. Overall, the collection contains few materials that pre-date 1955. The inclusive dates are 1929-1984; the bulk dates are 1955-1984.


  • 1955-1984


Restrictions to Access

This collection contains some personnel and student academic records that are restricted in accordance with university policy and applicable state and federal laws. Access to files containing information on certain University personnel matters is restricted for 50 years from the latest date of the materials in those files. Access to student records is restricted for 75 years from the latest date of the records in those files.

North Carolina General Statute 132 (G.S. § 132), Public Records Law, governs access to these materials. Access to these materials is also subject to FERPA, The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99), a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.

Biographical Note

Dr. William Howard Plemmons was the second president of Appalachian, known as the "builder president." He was born June 11, 1904 in Asheville, North Carolina.

Plemmons graduated from Mars Hill College in 1926 and cum laude from Wake Forest College in 1928. He earned a master's degree in history from Duke University in 1935 and a PhD in history and educational administration from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1943. Wake Forest granted Plemmons an honorary doctorate in 1958.

Plemmons began teaching in Asheville and served as principal of two schools before returning to UNC where he served as admissions officer, registrar, and professor. He became president of Appalachian on September 1, 1955.

During his administration, Appalachian's enrollment and campus grew and the school became known throughout the South. He expanded the curriculum, constructed new buildings and formulated the institution's first long-range plan with the help of faculty, staff, community members and professional planners and architects. Plemmons rebuilt and expanded the inadequate physical plant, established a new administrative structure and developed a curriculum that provided for growth and expansion beyond the single purpose of preparing teachers.

After retirement in 1969, Plemmons served as director of Special Projects at ASU. He was active in local and regional civic organizations. Plemmons died October 7, 1984.


45.75 Linear Feet (73 boxes, 9 half-sized manuscript boxes, 1 records carton, 2 oversize boxes, 5 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



William Howard Plemmons was the second President of Appalachian State Teachers College serving from 1955 until 1969. Materials in this collection include correspondence and subject files, newsclippings, photographs, and other printed materials relating to the administration of Appalachian State Teachers College (A.S.T.C.) during Plemmons’ presidency and his continued active involvement as President Emeritus.

Organization and Arrangement

Following the transfer of an initial group of Dr. Plemmons’ files from the Chancellor’s Office to University Archives and Records in 1984, five additional groups were transferred to University Archives and Records in 1985, 1991, 1993, and 1995, respectively. (Four groups were transferred from the Chancellor’s Office in 1985, 1991, and 1993. One group was transferred from Belk Library’s W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection in 1995.) In 2003 and 2004, University Archives staff accessioned these records and assigned accession numbers accordingly. The accession schedule then guided the processing of Dr. Plemmons’ records and other materials.

The records are divided into seven series, three of which have been further arranged into subseries. Unless otherwise noted in the series and subseries descriptions, arrangement is generally alphabetical by subject or correspondent and chronological there under. Except in cases where files were renamed for the sake of clarity, original folder titles have been retained. Materials relating to particular individuals, events, or activities may be filed in several different locations throughout the collection. The scattering of records relating to significant events such as Plemmons’ inauguration, retirement, the dedication of the W.H. Plemmons College Center (now the Plemmons Student Union), and the establishment of the Appalachian Consortium appears to be the result of the materials being transferred or received from different sources on separate occasions over a period of nearly ten years. Although much effort has been made to provide cross-references to related materials, researchers are advised to search the entire box and folder list to find all items that may be of interest to them. This overlap may be the result of preserving the original order of files as they may have been prepared by Plemmons’ own administrative staff or the administrative staffs in the offices of succeeding chancellors before the records were transferred to University Archives and Records.

Photographic materials (prints, negatives, and slides) are housed separately. When photographs were found as enclosures with correspondence or other papers, photocopies were made for retention with the associated document, originals were separated, and the separation is noted accordingly in the box and folder list. As a rule, oversize materials such as large certificates or awards to Dr. Plemmons, maps, drawings, and other printed materials were separated as well. Their separation has also been noted in the box and folder list. Additionally, complete or incomplete issues of The Appalachian (student newspaper) were re-formatted; originals were removed from the files and retained with this collection’s oversize materials until it is determined that we have a complete run of the publication on microfilm. Refer to pages 9-10 and 97-101 of this finding aid for more information on the items that were separated during processing.

Acquisitions Information

Following the transfer of an initial group of Dr. Plemmons’ files from the Office of the Chancellor to University Archives and Records in 1984, five additional groups were transferred to University Archives and Records in 1985, 1991, 1993, and 1995.


This collection's former unique identifier was UA 5000.

Processing Information

Processed by Simms Toomey and Michal J. Duffy under the supervision of University Archivist Harry C. Keiner.
Office of the President. William H. Plemmons Records
Simms Toomey
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Appalachian State University Special Collections Repository

218 College Street
Boone U.S.A. - North Carolina 28608-2026 United States
8282624975 (Fax)