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Identifier: RG 04/A14

Robert C. Clothier Administration Records


  • 1925-1952

Scope and Content Note

The presidential records of Robert C. Clothier cover the years 1925 to 1952. The bulk of the material spans his tenure as president of Rutgers University, 1932-1952. The records are divided into six series: Subject Files (1925-1952), Committee Files (1925-1952), Faculty and Administrators Files (1925-1952), Writings and Speeches (1932-1953), Trustees and Trustees' Committee Records (1932-1951), and Commencements, Dedications and Celebrations (1932-1949). There are 155 manuscript boxes (62 cubic feet) in this collection.

Series I, Subject Files (Boxes 1-77) is the largest series in the collection. It contains correspondence between Robert C. Clothier and various individuals, associations, and corporations as well as reports, news clippings, telegrams, minutes, and memoranda. These files cover the years 1925 to 1952, with the bulk covering 1932 to 1952. The files are arranged alphabetically and chronologically within each folder. Researchers should note that files for individual faculty members and university trustees are located in Series II, Faculty Files, and Series V, Trustees and Trustees' Committee Records, respectively. Other individuals, such as Deans, may be listed either in Series II or here under either their name or with their affiliate department or office. During his presidency, Robert C. Clothier corresponded with a multitude of individuals and organizations, ranging from: politicians, military officers, scholars, businessmen, professional and trade organizations, alumni, students, and citizens of New Jersey. The breadth of the correspondence shows the spectrum of demands placed on the president as well as the variety of constituents that required his attention.

As a whole, these files provide an excellent overview of the issues that Robert C. Clothier faced during his presidency. However, the importance of several subjects dictate that they be highlighted. Because Clothier's tenure began during the Depression, the university's financial situation is significant to his presidency. Some of the files that provide insight into the university's financial situation are: the "Budget" files; Corporation Gifts and Crystal, Herman, Fiscal Analyst, Dept. of Taxation and Finance/Dept. of Treasury; the "Fund Council" files; and the "Rutgers Research Council" files.

While the Depression served as the single most significant national event that supplied the context for the early years of the Clothier presidency, World War II was the global event that framed the middle to late years. The Subject Files provide much insight into the wartime environment at Rutgers University. Of note are the files on the Army Specialized Training Program; Beukema, Col. Herman, Army Specialized Training Program; Grier, Col. J. B., Army Specialized Training Program; and Palmer, Col. Theodore D., Army Specialized Training Division. Other interesting files related to the war are Conscientious Objectors; Defense Council, Rutgers Advisory, re: air raids/blackouts; Defense Program (Rutgers Advisory Defense Council); Military Department; Military Training; Navy ROTC; and War Service. The files entitled Veterans—Education (University Council on Veterans Training) discuss Rutgers plan to provide educational opportunities for returning veterans.

A common theme that can be found in the records of many Rutgers presidents is that of State Relations. This is no different for Clothier as files entitled: Board of Strategy (Advisory Committee on State Relations); Education Reorganization Act; Regents, New Jersey State Board of; Reorganization; and State Relations all touch on this subject.

Clothier's presidency was one of growth for the university. New land was purchased, new buildings were constructed, and new departments and curricula were developed. The new "Stadium" was dedicated in 1938, just a few years after the purchase of the land known as the Raritan Campus. In 1946 the University of Newark merged with Rutgers University, providing Rutgers with a College of Arts and Science, a School of Business Administration, a Law School, and a College of Pharmacy in an urban setting. A merger of the two institutions had been considered as early as 1933, and is documented in files such as: Burnett, D. Frederick (attorney), re: Newark Schools merger; Newark Colleges of Rutgers University. Similarly, a law school and the College of South Jersey merged with Rutgers University in 1950. Some information on this merger can be found in the College of South Jersey folder. Also, a significant number of files pertaining to the New Jersey College for Women (NJC) (later Douglass) can be found in this series.

Series II, Committee Files (Boxes 78-83) is arranged alphabetically. These files contain correspondence, notes, and reports of the many committees that were established for the purpose of conducting university business or to investigate a specific topic. Some committees are ongoing, such as the Academic Standards Committee, and Public Relations Committee; and others were more temporary, such as the special committee to consider Acquiring Water Rights in Valley of Raritan River (1935), or the Select a President (1930-1931) committee. Many of the committees relate to the subjects highlighted in Series I. Among these are: Acquisition of Land for Playing Fields (Trustees); Army Specialized Training Program (Faculty); Building Needs of the University (Trustees); Development; Endowments; Post-War International Problems; Purchase of Land (Trustee—Special); War Curricula and Schedules; War Effort (Trustees); and War Service Board. Committee membership was typically made up of faculty, trustees, or both.

Series III, Faculty and Administrators Files, (Boxes 84-104) is arranged alphabetically by last name. These files contain correspondence between Robert C. Clothier and individual deans or faculty members, as well as memos, reports, and meeting minutes. Of note are William H. Cole, Thurlow C. Nelson, Selman A. Waksman, and Carl R. Woodward.

Series IV, Writings and Speeches, (Boxes 105-125) is divided into two subseries: A. Writings and B. Speeches, each of which is arranged alphabetically by file heading. The Writings subseries consists of manuscripts and notes, including several articles from the Alumni Monthly, various local newspapers, and numerous news releases. The Speeches subseries contains notes used during speeches, transcripts of speeches and in some cases published copies of speeches. Clothier was in demand as a speaker. Many of Clothier's speaking engagements were for the Rutgers community of students, faculty, trustees, and alumni. Besides speaking at commencement ceremonies, Clothier frequently spoke to the alumni at various Rutgers Clubs throughout the country, and in chapel. Clothier was also often invited to speak outside the Rutgers community, speaking in front of many professional associations, community organizations, and on local radio programs.

Series V, Trustees and Trustees' Committee Records, (Boxes 126-144) is divided into three subseries: A. General, B. Meetings, and C. The Trustees. The General Trustees files are arranged alphabetically by subject and contain correspondence, memos, and reports pertaining to each subject heading. The Trustees Meeting files are arranged chronologically by year of the meeting and contain correspondence, memos, agendas and reports for each meeting. The Trustees files are arranged alphabetically by surname and contain communications between the trustee and Clothier or other trustees, memos, meeting minutes, and reports. Several of the trustees served on the board for many years; in many cases overlapping one or more of the university presidents that preceded or followed Clothier. Examination of their files, not just those in this record group, may help piece together history of some of the themes and events that had begun before the commencement of the Clothier presidency, as well as those that had not reached their conclusion prior to Clothier's resignation.

Series VI, Commencements, Dedications, and Celebrations, (Boxes 145-155) is divided into twenty-one subseries; one for each year's commencement ceremonies between 1932 and 1949, the Stadium Dedication, 175th Anniversary Celebration, and Commencement Scrapbooks. These files typically include copies of programs, invitations, and lists of distinguished guests. The files on "Honorary Degrees" for each year's commencement ceremonies may be of particular interest.


62 Cubic Feet (155 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



Rutgers University during the critical years of the Depression, World War II, and immediate postwar years is thoroughly documented in the records of the Office of President during the administration of Robert C. Clothier. Included are extensive subject files covering a wide range of topics concerning both internal operations of the university during this critical period as well as its relations to the State of New Jersey. The records, which cover the years 1925 to 1952, are arranged in six series: I. Subject Files, II. Committee Files, III. Faculty and Administrators Files, IV. Writings and Speeches, V. Trustees and Trustees' Committee Records, and VI. Commencements, Dedications, and Celebrations.

Administrative History and Biographical Sketch of Robert Clarkson Clothier

"I seem to see a great university, great in endowment, in land, in buildings, in equipment, but greater still—second to none—in its practical idealism, and its social usefulness," declared Robert C. Clothier in November 1932.(1) The new president of Rutgers had inherited a relatively small institution, which had only recently become a university. Expansion was a necessary and inevitable goal for Rutgers, and he embarked upon a course that resulted in tremendous development in size and educational service. Robert Clarkson Clothier (1885-1970) was born in Philadelphia, attended Haverford School from 1894 to 1903 and enrolled in Princeton. As an undergraduate he was editor-in-chief of The Daily Princetonian and served on the student council. Following graduation in 1908 he worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and later joined the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia as a personnel manager. During World War I, Dr. Clothier was appointed to the War Department's Committee on Classification of Personnel. As lieutenant colonel of the General Staff, he served overseas as a special representative of the Secretary of War. Following the war, he helped form the Scott Company, personnel consultants for industry, and served as its vice president until 1923. He then returned to Haverford School as assistant headmaster and was later named as acting headmaster. In 1929, he was appointed dean of men at the University of Pittsburgh and remained in that position until he assumed the presidency of Rutgers in 1932. Clothier's vision of growth and development for Rutgers coincided with the Depression and war years. State appropriations were drastically reduced during the early 1930s and private gifts were not forthcoming. He nonetheless encouraged a "friendly and understanding" relationship with the state and embarked on an expansion program. In 1935 he announced the acquisition of a 256-acre tract immediately across the Raritan River. The River Road Campus, as it was called at the time, soon featured playing fields for intramural and intercollegiate athletic programs, a 22,000-seat stadium, the Chemistry Building, a faculty village and a housing development for married students. By the 1940s, the University had acquired buildings along Georges Road for the College of Agriculture, buildings on College Avenue, and the President's House on River Road. It had constructed an annex to the Engineering Building, and transformed the Neilson Campus, now known as Voorhees Mall. During the early years of Clothier's presidency, the curriculum was strengthened and new programs were added. The Graduate Faculty was formed in May 1932, two years later University College was established, and the following year the first graduate school of banking was initiated with the collaboration of the American Bankers Association. In March 1936, the Rutgers University Press was founded. Additional programs begun during Dr. Clothier's first decade included the Bureau of Biological Research, the Rutgers Research Council, the State Scholarship Program, and the departments of personnel and placement, alumni, and public relations. With America's entry into World War II, Rutgers found itself once again in the throes of a national emergency. Clothier immediately committed the University's resources to the war effort. The campus became host to the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), which helped maintain enrollment levels in the University. The war had a devastating effect on the University; 5,888 Rutgers men served in the armed forces and 234 men and two women lost their lives overseas. Tragedy struck Dr. and Mrs. Clothier with news of the death of their son during a training mission as an Air Cadet. During the postwar years, Rutgers renewed its call for growth and expansion. Clothier declared that University policy would be to accommodate "all qualified veterans and high school graduates for whom it is possible to provide, not just those whom it is convenient to take." Over 19,000 veterans flooded the campus to receive their education through the benefits of the G.I. Bill. In 1945, under the provisions of the State University Act, the state legislature enacted the designation of State University to all units of Rutgers. The Bureau of Mineral Research was founded in 1945, followed by the Institute of Management and Labor Relations in 1947, the Institute of Microbiology in 1949, and the Bureau of Government Research in 1950. In 1946 the College of Arts and Science, the School of Business Administration, and the School of Law of the former University of Newark were merged with the University to form Rutgers-Newark. In 1950, the University assumed control of a law school and the two-year College of South Jersey in Camden, extending the University to that portion of the state. During this period of tremendous growth, Dr. Clothier also assumed many civic responsibilities. In the summer of 1947 he served as president of the New Jersey Constitutional Convention, held in the Gymnasium on College Avenue, that produced the modern state charter. He held membership in various clubs and associations, directorships in the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company and the Public Service Corporation of New Jersey. He also served a term as chairman of State Department of Higher Education's Division Against Discrimination. In 1951 Robert C. Clothier retired from the presidency of Rutgers University, at the age of sixty-six. He was the recipient of honorary degrees from Princeton, Pittsburgh, Delaware, Temple, the State University of New York, New York University, Tusculum, Dickinson, and Lafayette. During his retirement he returned to Rutgers for numerous occasions and special events. He died on March 18, 1970. Notes (1) The "Administrative History and Biographical Sketch" of Robert C. Clothier is from Thomas J. Frusciano, "Leadership on the Banks: Rutgers' Presidents, 1766-1991," Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, Vol. LIII, No. 1 (June 1991), 29-30. Available online (see Robert C. Clothier, 1932-1951).


(1) The "Administrative History and Biographical Sketch" of Robert C. Clothier is from Thomas J. Frusciano, "Leadership on the Banks: Rutgers' Presidents, 1766-1991," Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, Vol. LIII, No. 1 (June 1991), 29-30. Available online (see Robert C. Clothier, 1932-1951).


(1) The "Administrative History and Biographical Sketch" of Robert C. Clothier is from Thomas J. Frusciano, "Leadership on the Banks: Rutgers' Presidents, 1766-1991," Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, Vol. LIII, No. 1 (June 1991), 29-30. Available online (see Robert C. Clothier, 1932-1951).

Arrangement Note

The records of the Rutgers' Office of the President during the administration of Robert Clarkson Clothier are divided into six series as follows:

  1. I. Subject Files, 1925-1952
  2. II. Committee Files, 1925-1952
  3. III. Faculty and Administrators Files, 1925-1952
  4. IV. Writings and Speeches, 1932-1953
  5. V. Trustees and Trustees' Committee Records, 1932-1951
  6. VI. Commencements, Dedications, and Celebrations, 1932-1949

Related Material

The records of Fraser Metzger, Rutgers College Dean of Men between 1925 and 1944 and those of Carl R. Woodward who served as Secretary of the University between 1936 and 1941 contain information pertaining to Clothier and his presidency of Rutgers. For more information, see the Inventory to the Records of the Rutgers University Office of the Secretary (Carl Raymond Woodward), 1928-1943 and Inventory to the Records of the Rutgers College Office of Dean of Men, 1928-1947.

The records of the Rutgers Defense Council and the The Rutgers Oral History Archives of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Cold War give perspectives on life at Rutgers during and after World War II. For more information, see Inventory to the Records of the Rutgers Defense Council, 1941-1945, Guide to the Rutgers Oral History Archives of World War II, 1994 - [ongoing], and The Rutgers Oral History Archives.


(1) The "Administrative History and Biographical Sketch" of Robert C. Clothier is from Thomas J. Frusciano, "Leadership on the Banks: Rutgers' Presidents, 1766-1991," Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, Vol. LIII, No. 1 (June 1991), 29-30. Available online (see Robert C. Clothier, 1932-1951).


(1) The "Administrative History and Biographical Sketch" of Robert C. Clothier is from Thomas J. Frusciano, "Leadership on the Banks: Rutgers' Presidents, 1766-1991," Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, Vol. LIII, No. 1 (June 1991), 29-30. Available online (see Robert C. Clothier, 1932-1951).


(1) The "Administrative History and Biographical Sketch" of Robert C. Clothier is from Thomas J. Frusciano, "Leadership on the Banks: Rutgers' Presidents, 1766-1991," Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, Vol. LIII, No. 1 (June 1991), 29-30. Available online (see Robert C. Clothier, 1932-1951).

Inventory to the Records of the Robert C. Clothier Administration, 1925-1952 RG 04/A14
Edited Full Draft
Matthew Brown
April 2007
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Revision Statements

  • May 2007: This electronic finding aid was edited by Caryn Radick. Changes were made to folder order

Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository

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