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James E. Boyd papers

Identifier: UA-0002-03

Scope and Content

This collection contains the papers of West Georgia College's third president, James Emory Boyd. The collection is divided into three series: papers, artifacts, and books. The first series, comprising thirty-four boxes, largely contains materials from Boyd's term as president from 1961 to 1971. Correspondence, statistical information, and publications from various campus organizations and departments, as well as from the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents, are included. Boyd remained active in his scientific research and maintained contacts at the Engineering Experiment Station at Georgia Tech, so corresponding materials have also been included in this collection. Schools and organizations frequently asked Boyd to give speeches at functions and graduations, so two boxes contain his speech notes written on index cards.

The second series contains a variety of artifacts from Boyd's life. Several are related to Robert F. Kennedy's celebrated visit in 1964 to West Georgia College for the dedication of Kennedy Chapel: a print of a drawing of Kennedy Chapel, a photo album from a dinner given in honor of Kennedy and his wife, Ethel, and a framed photo from the dedication ceremony. The remaining artifacts in the collection are nine plaques from local organizations honoring Boyd, two date books, a statue of a Boy Scout, and the flag from Boyd's funeral ceremony. A portion of Boyd's personal book collection was donated to Special Collections, and these twenty-six books comprise the third series. Their topics range from scientific research to Georgia history, and most are inscribed with Boyd's name.


  • 1950-2000


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users; no restrictions

User Restrictions

As stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical Note

James Emory Boyd was born on July 18, 1906 in Tignall, Georgia to Emory Fortson and Rosa Lee Wright Boyd. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1927 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, and the next year he received his masters' degree from Duke University. After two years as a physics instructor at the University of Georgia, Boyd was accepted into Yale University's physics program. In 1933, he completed his dissertation, entitled Scattering of X-Rays by Cold-Worked and by Annealed Beryllium, and graduated with his PhD in physics.

From 1933 to 1935, Boyd taught at West Georgia College and was appointed head of the Mathematics and Science Department. During his brief time in Carrollton, he married Elizabeth Reynolds Cobb (January 23, 1913 - January 10, 2000) on June 2, 1934. They had two children, Betty Cobb Boyd (b. August 26, 1939) and James Fortson Boyd (b. October 9, 1942). In 1935, Boyd accepted a teaching position at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and he remained there until he joined the U. S. Naval Reserve in 1942. He earned the ranks of lieutenant and lieutenant commander for his service in the Radar Section of the Research and Development Division of the Bureau of Ordnance. He returned to Georgia Tech in 1946 and remained there until he was appointed president of West Georgia College in 1961. At Georgia Tech, Boyd was instrumental in the development of the school's nuclear program during the 1950s. He served as assistant, associate, and full director of the Engineering Experiment Station, as well as serving on assorted nuclear commissions and committees.

In 1961, Boyd was appointed President of West Georgia College, and his nine-year term was one of unprecedented growth for the school. From 1961 to 1970, fall enrollment increased from 1,100 to 5,500 students, and the number of possible programs of study grew as well. At the beginning of the decade, students could earn two degrees in five programs, and by 1970, the college offered seven degrees in forty-five programs. The rapid growth necessitated a building boom as well, with nine residence halls and five academic centers opened. As president, Boyd successfully led the college through several controversial issues that plagued universities of the 1960s, including integration and Vietnam protests.

In 1970, Boyd was named the University System of Georgia's first vice chancellor for academic development. He held the post for only a few months before he was appointed interim president of Georgia Tech for the 1971-1972 school year. Boyd then retired to Carrollton, Georgia, and he died there on February 18, 1998. At the University of West Georgia, Boyd is remembered through an academic scholarship, the James Emory Boyd Award (given annually to the top geology student), and with the James E. Boyd Building that houses the mathematics and physics programs.


15.01 Linear feet (36 boxes, 3 oversize packages, 2 oversize boxes, 1 painting)




This collection contains the papers of West Georgia College's third president, James E. Boyd. Prior to his appointment as president in 1961, Boyd was an Associate Professor of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and director of the school's Engineering Experiment Station (now known as Georgia Tech Research Institute). Boyd served as president until 1971. Although the majority of his papers are from various departments and organizations at West Georgia College, there are also newsletters, periodicals, books, and correspondence in connection with his scientific research.


Unknown donor

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Separated Materials

Books from the James E. Boyd papers have been separated and catalogued.

Processed By

Processed by Sarah Warren, April 2010
Guide to the James E. Boyd papers, 1950-2000 UA-0002-03
Finding aid prepared by Written by Sarah Warren, April 2010
© 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English
Finding aid converted with funds from a UWG FY14 Presidential Assistance Grant.

Repository Details

Part of the University of West Georgia Special Collections Repository

Special Collections, Ingram Library
University of West Georgia
1601 Maple Street
Carrollton GA 30118-2000 United States