This collection contains all of the surviving manuscript materials from the files of the first five presidents of the University of Arizona. There are, obviously and unfortunately, many missing letters and related documents lost or destroyed before this assortment reached the Library. The user should remain aware of this fact.
The establishment of both the University of Arizona and the Agricultural Experiment Station was linked in a complex and overlapping manner. While the University was "established" in 1885 by legislative action, with ground was broken in 1887 for a building ("Old Main") designated as the School of Mines, it was the prospect of government funds through the Hatch Act, granted annually to state schools of agriculture that influenced the Board of Regents to quickly create the School of Agriculture.
Frank A. Gulley, the first paid faculty member, was appointed Dean of this unborn school in 1890. In the months proceeding the opening of the University in the autumn of 1891, he selected the faculty, oversaw the completion and furnishing of the first buildings, equipped the laboratory for the Experiment Station, selected sites for the field stations, and issued the first publications. While not formally designated President of the University, he carried out many of the activities and responsibilities of that office. His papers are found in the above-mentioned Experiment Station material. His counterpart in the School of Mines, Theodore B. Comstock, employed by Gulley in 1891, later became the first official President of the University.
In addition are various early financial and student records, as well as meeting minutes of the Board of Regents.