Bureaucracy: Presidential Papers, President William H. Bruce Records

Presidential Papers, President William H. Bruce Records, 1904-1924. Box 484. University Archives. UNT Library. Denton, Tx.


The Presidential Papers collection contains various papers, documents, and ephemera from the presidents of UNT since the school’s founding at Texas Normal College and Training Institute in 1890. This box holds papers and ephemera from UNT’s fifth president, William H. Bruce, who served as president of the institution from 1906 to 1923. It also includes letters to members of the Board of Regents, the Texas Attorney General, and correspondence between Texas College presidents dating from 1904-1924, as well as documents about class offerings, bulletins, faculty meeting minutes, and faculty contracts, and more. Each folder contains a set of documents—often original documents—that were influenced by, signed by, written by/to, or directly affected President Bruce and/or his presidency.

President Bruce is recognized for raising the standards for instruction at UNT. In particular, he presided over a major curricular transformation, which replaced the three-year teacher-training degree plan with a four-year bachelor’s degree program. Bruce raised admission standards to meet requirements established by major colleges, increased the number of faculty members who held graduate degrees, and enlarged course offerings. During his twenty-year presidency, eight buildings were constructed on UNT’s campus, including the President’s House, the Library (now Curry Hall), the Science Building, the Manual Arts Buildings, and the Education Building. During his presidency, student enrollment also increased significantly, from 1,028 to 4,700. The faculty also grew from 4 to 118 during this period.

The papers collected in this box detail some of the negotiations and decision-making necessary to effect these changes. The documents housed in this box mark the massive alterations that UNT underwent during Bruce’s presidency. By taking a look at the Budget and Appropriations folders, one can track how much more money UNT received and appropriated in 1924 than in 1904. The Building and Furniture Records mark the change in UNT’s campus from ten to twenty-five acres and the addition of eight buildings. At the end of his presidency, in 1924, President Bruce had the name of the institution changed to North Texas State Teachers College. Documents marking this change are also present within these folders. President Bruce died in December 1943.

Although the various documents collected in this box are interesting as bureaucratic forms, the box itself is also an important artifact of bureaucratic streamlining. Affixed to the box are two 3x5 cards with typed identification records. These include the call number, box number, brief descriptions of contents, and dates. This box also includes hand-written amendments: originally identified at “Early University Records,” the contents were at some point reclassified as belonging to the “University of North Texas-President’s Office” collection. These identification marks may seem relatively insignificant, but they are essential for organizing and locating these materials. UNT’s archives holds approximately 10,000 linear feet of various documents, including more than 500 boxes of Presidential Papers. The cards affixed to this box, therefore, streamline the process of storing these materials and locating them when researchers want to access them.

Find President William H. Bruce Records in the UNT Archives.