Skip to main content

Office of the President. John Edwin Pomfret Records

Identifier: UA 2.11

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

Due to the fragility of this collection, patrons must use the microfilm copy. The microfilm and microfilm readers can be found on the 1st floor of Swem Library (call number LD6051 .W517 1942 P66, reels 1-28).

Acc. 1982.055: Records of College President John E. Pomfret (1942-1951). For the most part, headings assigned to folders in their office of origin have been maintained in the box list inventory available here. The records cover the day-to-day business of William and Mary from finances to athletics to students to faculty and include correspondence, reports, and other record formats typically found in offices. This accession has been added to the box and folder list below.

Acc. 1999.024: Confidential papers removed from Acc. 1982.055. This accession also contains sensitive materials removed from the records of John Stewart Bryan (Acc. 1979.35), A.D. Chandler (Acc 1982.65), and J.A.C. Chandler (Acc. 1982.45). This accession is restricted.


  • Creation: 1942-1951


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Acc. 1999.024 is restricted. Consult a staff member for assistance. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical Information:

John Edwin Pomfret was the twentieth president of the College of William and Mary, from January 1, 1943 until his resignation on September 13, 1951. His formal induction as president took place on Charter Day in February 1943, as part of celebrations of the College's 250th anniversary.

A native of Philadelphia, Pomfret attended the University of Pennsylvania, suspending his studies to serve in the Navy during World War I. He graduated with a B.A. in history in 1920, and stayed on as a teaching fellow until earning his master's and doctorate. Pomfret left Pennsylvania in 1924 to take a position at the University of South Carolina. From 1925 to 1937, he was a history professor at Princeton. Before arriving in Williamsburg, he taught and served as dean of the Senior College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School at Vanderbilt University.

A prominent scholar and teacher, Pomfret served as vice-president of National Phi Beta Kappa, president of the 41 liberal arts colleges of the Southern Conference, as well as a member of the Pulitzer Prize Committee. He also authored a number of works, including The Struggle for Land in Ireland and Colonial New Jersey History.

Under Pomfret's predecessor, Julian A.C. Chandler, William & Mary went through a scandal over allegations of grade-changing, and lost accreditation from the American Association of Universities for one year. Pomfret's career as president ended on a similar note. The College's athletic teams enjoyed great success in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Accusations eventually surfaced that College of William and Mary football and basketball coaches had changed players' high school transcripts and college grades so they would be eligible to play. The heated debate that ensued over the priorities of academics versus the commitment to athletics drew national attention. The administration was heavily criticized for allowing such behavior, eventually resulting in Pomfret and several others to resign.

After leaving William and Mary, Pomfret worked as the director of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery until retiring in 1966. He died in Camden, South Carolina on November 26, 1981 at the age of 83.


16.60 Linear Feet

Physical Characteristics or Technical Requirements:

Microfilm must be used in place of original documents. The paper originals of this collection are stored offsite. Consult a staff member for assistance. When available, microfilm, photocopies, digital surrogates, or other reproductions must be used in place of original documents.

Electronic Format:

Microfilm of this collection is available in the Swem Library Microforms Collection.

Processing Information:

Box and folder list added by Justin Ferrell and Zach Woodward, SCRC staff, in February 2011.

Guide to the Office of the President. John Edwin Pomfret Records
Finding Aid Authors: Special Collections Staff.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
The collection description/finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository