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|Size||4.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 2300 items)|
|Abstract||Francis Preston Venable, son of Charles Scott Venable, aid-de-camp to General Robert E. Lee, 1862-1865, and professor of mathematics, University of Virginia, 1865-1896, was born 17 November 1856 in Farmville, Virginia. In 1893 Venable identified calcium carbide, thereby laying the foundation for the success of the Union Carbide Corporation--but was never financially rewarded for this discoverry. From 1900-1914 he served as president of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1930 Venable retired from teaching and four years later on 17 March 1934, Venable died. The collection includes correspondence, writings, pictures, and other material of Francis Preston Venable, professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1880-1930, and president of the University, 1900-1914. Professional writings and personal correspondence of members of the Venable family constitute the bulk of these papers.|
|Creator||Venable, F. P. (Francis Preston), 1856-1934.|
The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.
Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.
|1856||F.P. Venable born November 17, in Farmville, Virginia, son of Charles Scott Venable, aid-de-camp to General Robert E. Lee, 1862-1865, and professor of mathematics, University of Virginia, 1865-1896.|
|1877||Graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in Chemistry; taught high school in New Orleans after graduation.|
|1879||Earned an MA degree in Chemistry, University of Virginia.|
|1880||Offered chair in chemistry at the University of North Carolina.|
|1881||Earned Ph.D. degree in chemistry, University of Gottigen, Germany; elected fellow of the Chemical Society in London.|
|1883||Co-founder and first president of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society; published A Course in Qualitative Chemical Analysis.|
|1884||Married Sallie Charlton Manning, daughter of University of North Carolina law professor John Manning. They had five children.|
|1889||Attended lectures for four months at the University of Berlin.|
|1893||Occupied the first endowed chair at the University of North Carolina, the Mary Ann Smith Professorship; identified calcium carbide, thereby laying the foundation for the success of the Union Carbide Corporation--but never financially rewarded for this discovery.|
|1894||Published A Short History of Chemistry.|
|1896||Published The Development of the Periodic Law.|
|1898||Published Inorganic Chemistry.|
|1899||Elected vice-president of the chemistry section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.|
|1900||Appointed president of the University of North Carolina.|
|1903||Nominated president of the Southern Educational Association.|
|1904||Co-authored The Study of the Atom.|
|1905||Elected president of the American Chemical Society.|
|1909||Served as president of the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.|
|1914||Resigned as president of the University of North Carolina, and returned to teaching and research.|
|1917||Co-authored A Brief Account of Radio-activity.|
|1918||Appointed Kenan Professor.|
|1922||Published Zirconium and its Compounds.|
|1925||Dedication of the new chemistry building, Venable Hall, at the University of North Carolina.|
|1930||Retired from teaching.|
|1934||Died March 17.|
There is some documentation in these papers for virtually all aspects of the life of Francis Preston Venable. Venable's family life is best documented, beginning with letters from his childhood and college years, and continuing with letters sent from Germany to his mother, letters to his parents from Charlottesville, and including a steady flow of correspondence between Venable and his wife and children from 1884 to 1930. Other family materials include brief memoirs and reminiscences by Venable, personal and family financial records, and family photographs. Personal experiences of Venable also are recorded in his memoirs, travel diaries, and other autobiographical writings, by biographical sketches of him, and by miscellaneous items.
Venable's professional activities are documented in correspondence with professional colleagues and publishing houses and in numerous essays and articles by Venable on chemical topics. His role in the discovery and identification of acetylene gas, leading to the founding of the Union Carbide Corporation, is evidenced by legal documents and correspondence.
There is relatively less coverage in these papers of Venable's presidency of the University of North Carolina. About sixty letters from the period 1900-1914 do relate to Venable's activities as university president. Beyond these items, researchers can consult pertinent records in the University of North Carolina Archives.
This collection contains several noteworthy items not suggested by its title. Among them are a Confederate map of the Kentucky-Tennessee theater in 1862; a few Civil War letters from Venable's father, Charles Scott Venable, aid-de-camp to General Robert E. Lee; and an account by William Campbell Preston, FPV's maternal grandfather, of travels in Europe, 1812-1819. Another unusual item is a rare photograph, circa 1890, of the Chapel Hill campus.
The F.P. Venable Papers remained for decades in the home of Venable's daughter, Louise Venable (Mrs. W.C.) Coker. In 1983, they were given to the Southern Historical Collection by another daughter, Francis Venable (Mrs. Leo) Gardiner. Since the papers as received had no particular arrangement, the following scheme was imposed:
Diplomas and other items relating to Francis and Louise Venable.Back to Top
Family and professional correspondence of Francis Preston Venable (1856-1934), professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina 1880-1930, and president of the University, 1900-1914. About two-thirds of the correspondence is between family members. The remaining letters are chiefly professional correspondence. A few letters relate to personal business matters.
Most of the correspondence from 1861 to Venable's marriage in 1884 consists of letters from members of his family: sisters Mary, Natalie, Cantey, his mother and stepmother, and his father. These letters relate mainly to family matters and daily life in Charlottesville, Virginia. There are a few letters dating from the Civil War period from his father, Charles Scott Venable, offering fatherly advice but telling very little about the war or its participants. Several letters, October-December 1879, are from Venable to his stepmother, describing his studies in Germany and giving his impressions of life there.
After Venable's marriage in 1884, personal letters between him and his wife, Sallie Manning Venable, and in time, their children, predominate. Professional correspondence with scientific colleagues and letters concerning publishing begin to appear, as do items relating to personal business, real estate, and bonds.
The correspondence from 1900 to 1914 includes few items relating to Venable's tenure as president of the University of North Carolina. An exception is a group of over fifty letters, from autumn, 1912, concerning a hazing incident in which a student died. Correspondents concerned with the hazing incident include W.B. Phillips, James Sprunt, and W.H.S. Burgwyn. Another item of note during this period is a letter from W.R. Kenan, 27 May 1907, concerning Union Carbide legal matters.
After 1913, there is a gradual decline in numbers of letters from family members and an increase in professional correspondence. In 1914, there are several letters from the Bureau of Mines relating to Venable's research in radioactive metals, a few personal letters from James Sprunt, and a letter from R.D.W. Connor accepting Venable's resignation as president of the university on behalf of the board of trustees. In a letter dated 6 September 1918 Venable was notified of his appointment as "consulting chemist" to the War Department. A few letters concerning the disposition of the estate of Venable's stepmother (Mary Southall Venable) appear in April 1920.
Other letters of interest from the 1920s include: a letter from Louis Round Wilson 22 April 1922 on raising money to build a new library; rejection letters 25 October 1923 and 10 April 1924, from publishers; May 1924 letters concerning the illness of James Sprunt; a 24 June 1924 letter about the atomic weight of zirconium, an important research project of Venable's; a letter to George Washington Carver, 14 February 1925, discussing Carver's work with sweet potatoes (unmailed?); a letter from Archibald Henderson, 27 December 1926, on Venable Hall; and a letter from E.A. Alderman, 20 June 1928, concerning a six million dollar gift by an anonymous donor to the University of Virginia.
After 1929, the volume of correspondence diminishes rapidly, with the chief subjects being Venable's retirement in 1930 and his death in 1934. An item of special interest in this period is a letter from Frank Porter Graham, 1 February 1930, asking Venable to endorse a statement "To the people of North Carolina" urging the acceptance of social change brought about by industrialization. There are several letters from Venable's half-brother, Charles S. Venable, to his mother, 1943-1945.
The last four folders in the series contain undated letters that are almost entirely between family members.
Correspondence, 1893-1941, legal documents, patents, and printed material concerning the discovery of calcium carbide and acetylene gas and their commercial uses, and the formation of the Union Carbide Corporation.
Noteworthy items include a "Memorandum of agreement," 27 March 1893, between F.P. Venable, Thomas L. Willson, and W.R. Walker to organize "a company for the manufacture, application and introduction of calcium and similar carbides" (folder 97), and a letter, 9 September 1921(?), from Venable to John Motley Morehead, claiming that Venable had been promised seventeen percent of the stock in said company as a reward for his role in identifying calcium carbide and acetylene gas (folder 96).
Two items of interest among the printed material (folder 98) are Calcium Carbide and the Process of Manufacture (1940?) by William R. Kenan, Jr., and "Some of the Properties of Calcium Carbide" (1895) by F.P. Venable and Thomas Clarke.
These are the minutes of four "annual" meetings of the "Research Club," a social organization of Chapel Hill professors that periodically poked fun at academic research. Included in its membership were Venable, Edward Kidder Graham, J. G. deRoulhac Hamilton, W. C. Coker, W. M. Dey, C. S. Mangum, and others. The club met at least six times: in 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1920, and 1921. The minutes of all but the 1916 and 1921 gatherings are in this series. A complete set of minutes is in the University of North Carolina Archives.
In addition to farcical parliamentary preliminaries, each set of minutes includes a tongue-in-cheek "paper" by each member. Topics of Venable's papers included "The Ontological Basis of the Atomic Theory of Darwinism in Relation to the Cosmological Basis of the Electron Theory of Modern Dances" (1914), and Chapter IV of The Laundry Ticket: A Story of Love and Adventure .
Except where otherwise noted, these writings are by, or presumed to be by, F.P. Venable.
Printed articles, drafts of articles, the manuscript of a textbook, and miscellaneous notes and fragments. Folders 104-111 contain typed drafts of chapters for a basic chemistry textbook. Other writings include printed versions and handwritten drafts of articles on various topics, including the atomic weight of zirconium and the periodic system.
Arrangement: seven sub-categories.
Arranged alphabetically by title. Includes commencement addresses, speeches and essays on teaching, the place of athletics in education, the "responsibility of the college-bred man," etc. Most items are typescripts, some with annotations.
Various versions of an autobiographical account of William Campbell Preston's travels in Europe 1812-1819. Preston was FPV's maternal grandfather. Venable edited this material and submitted it, apparently unsuccessfully, for publication.
Pamphlets, genealogies, newspaper clippings, and other items concerning Venable and members of his family, including ancestors.
Bills and receipts, invitations, calling cards, programs, insurance policies, honors and appointments, stocks, Confederate bonds, research reports, maps, and other items.
Two of the Confederate bonds were issued by the state of North Carolina in 1862 and signed by Governor Zebulon Baird Vance; another Confederate bond was issued by the Confederate government in Richmond in 1864 (folder 158).
The two maps (folder 161) are of special interest. One map (probably hand-drawn by Confederates) depicts the Kentucky-Tennessee area in 1862, with railroad lines and distances between towns marked in. Another map, printed by C. Crozet, shows "the Internal Improvements of Virginia According to the Resolutions of the Assembly of April 7, 1838."
Other items of interest are two research reports to the Secretary of the Interior on problems related to gas warfare, 1917-1918 (folder 162), and two poems (folder 162) "written by moonlight" in 1932 in Chapel Hill, by James Asa Johnson.
Class and laboratory notebooks, financial records, calendars of outgoing letters, travel accounts, and other volumes. Most of the nineteen class and laboratory notebooks date from 1879 to 1881 and 1889, and were compiled by Venable when he was a student in Germany. The seven financial record books include bank account books, records kept by Venable as administrator of an estate, records of personal expenses and income, and "Purchases for U.N.C., 1889," (incomplete). The travel accounts document travel in Italy, Germany, and the United States in 1880-81, 1908, and 1910. Particularly notable is a 34-page travelog of a trip on the steamer Konig Albert in March 1908 from Germany to New York City (volume 30). Two calendars of outgoing letters list the names and addresses of persons to whom Venable sent letters between 1923 and 1927 and between 1929 and 1931. The other volumes include a class register and grade book, 1881, a North Carolina Geological Survey field book, 1915, "A List of Addresses, Papers and Other Publications [by] F.P. Venable, 1879--" (volume 38), and other items.
Note: P-4368/47-63 are identified and unidentified classmates and friends of FPV from the University of Virginia.
Diplomas and other items relating to Francis and Louise Venable, 1905-1920.
|Extra Oversize Paper Folder X-OPF-4368/1a|
|Oversize Paper Folder OPF-4368/1b|
Processed by: Linda Griggs, May 1984; William T. Auman, July 1984
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008Back to Top