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William George Dodd papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 2004-006

Scope and Contents

This collection contains personal correspondence from 1922-1963, and research notes on Tallahassee education, the West Florida Seminary, the Florida State College for Women, and related topics. Also included are copies of a column in the Tallahassee Democrat entitled, "I remember ... in the Big Bend," and honorary awards. There are also notes on research for his book, Florida State College for Women: notes of the formative years. Additional subjects include Francis T. Dodd correspondence, Florida State University, Josephine White Dodd, Dorothy Dodd letters, William Faulkner, Tallahassee schools, and letters to Owen Rush.


  • Created: 1922-1963

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

To request permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from the archives, please contact Heritage & University Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. Researchers must obtain separate permission from the copyright holders of material held within University Archives collections for which the institution does not hold copyright.

Biographical or Historical Information

William George Dodd was born in Waynesville, Ohio, on April 9, 1874. He received his A.B. degree from Bethany College in 1893. Harvard University awarded him an A.M. degree in 1908 and a Ph.D. in English Literature in 1911. In 1910, he was appointed a professor of English at Florida State College for Women (FSCW) in Tallahassee, Florida, teaching classes mainly in Chaucer and Shakespeare. In 1913, he was appointed Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. During World War I, when the faculty presented a special program devoted to helping students understand the war, Dr. Dodd spoke about the connection between German literature and the War.

Dr. Dodd was considered a favorite of students, serving as their confidante as well as an inspiring teacher. He was an accomplished musician who played the piano for chapel and the local Rotary Club, an organist at the First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, and often participated in student theatricals.

By the mid-1930s, there was nationwide dissatisfaction with college and university curricula. During that time, FSCW was criticized for "not fitting students for life." As a result, Dr. Dodd modified the college's liberal arts agenda. Under his direction, the College of Arts and Sciences became one of the first colleges in the United States to offer majors in the fields of art and speech.

Described by his colleagues at FSCW as "Prime Minister of the Deans," Dr. Dodd played a leading role in maintaining the school's academic direction.

Dr. Dodd's efforts resulted in the creation of a program of "integrated courses," four general courses that taught the significance of a large field of knowledge rather than specific techniques. Beginning in the fall of 1936, all freshmen and sophomores (except those who passed exemption examinations) took a five-hour course in biological science, physical science, humanities, or social studies as part of their program each semester.

In addition to these academic accomplishments, Dr. Dodd composed the music and words for a new "College Song" which the Florida State College for Women adopted as its Alma Mater. He also wrote books on the history of education in Tallahassee, including Florida State College for Women: Notes of the formative years; West Florida Seminary, 1857-1901; and Florida State College, 1901-1905.

Citing ill health in 1938, at the age of 64, Dr. Dodd asked President Edward Conradi to relieve him of some of his numerous campus duties. President Conradi appointed Dr. Guy Diffenbaugh as Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences, but Dr. Dodd continued to supervise the daily liberal arts life of the college until his retirement on July 1, 1944. Dr. Diffenbaugh replaced him as Arts and Sciences Dean.

In 1961, the building built in the 1920s as the Florida State College for Women Library was renamed Dodd Hall in recognition of his service to education. Dr. Dodd died February 25, 1963.


6.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

Orwin Rush letter cataloged as MSS 88-3, Florida State College for Women: Notes of the Formative Years cataloged as MSS 0-359, certificate of honorary membership in Phi Beta Kappa cataloged as MSS 0-360. The MSS 2004-006 accession of the William George Dodd Papers includes a letter from Dr. Dodd to a recent FSCW graduate (recipient unidentified), in which he replies to the student's comments about his educational experience at the College. The original letter from the student to Dodd, March 31, 1940, is in an earlier accession, MSS 1-07, Box 143, Folder 1. In addition, there are speeches and speech materials from talks Dodd gave at the Phi Beta Kappa dinner on "The Humanities and Intellectual Freedom" and a lecture he gave at the Mortar Board dinner on "Leaders and Leadership"

Method of Acquisition

Donor unknown.

Existence and Location of Originals

Portions of collection available online?: No

Processing Information

The MSS2004006 accession was processed in Spring 2004. One of the speeches had attached notes, and was preservation photocopied, because it was typed on deteriorating onion skin paper

William George Dodd papers
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Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US