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[Item description and date.] Records of Robert Herring Wright. UA02-01. University Archives, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
Robert Herring Wright, an eastern North Carolina native, became the first President of East Carolina Teachers Training School in 1909. Wright was born to Bettie Vaiden Herring Wright and John Cromartie Wright, a Confederate veteran, in 1870 at the Wright family home Coharie in Sampson County. The Wrights had five sons and four daughters, and worked to ensure that all of their children received a good education.
Robert, the second son, went on to study for two years at Oak Ridge Institute, and then teach in a rural school for two years before going to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1894. Wright received his B.S. degree from UNC in 1897. After graduation, Wright taught in Nash County for one year before serving as an instructor at the Oak Ridge Institute for two years. In 1901 Wright entered graduate school at Johns Hopkins University in English and History. While in graduate school Wright got a job as a history teacher at Baltimore City College, where he was made chairman of the Department of History and Civics in 1904. In 1906 Wright took a job as principal of Eastern High School, a girls' school, in Baltimore. During his time as principal, Wright did graduate work at Columbia University in the summers.
Wright married Charlotte Pearl Murphy on December 31, 1901. They had four children Pearl, Robert, Mary, and William.
The reputation as an educator that Wright built in Baltimore is one of the reasons that he came to the attention of the trustees of ECTTS, who were looking for someone to head their new school. Wright took his post with the vision of improving education in all of eastern North Carolina by training young teachers at East Carolina. In 1920 ECTTS became East Carolina Teachers College with authorization to offer four years of college instead of just two. Starting off with around 175 students, the college grew to 1,000 by the end of Wright's tenure. The college began to offer graduate courses and masters degrees in 1929.
Wright served as President until 1934, when he had a massive heart attack at his desk on April 23. Wright died in the hospital two days later. This tragic ending to an era in East Carolina's history shocked the entire campus and community, as well as the state. Wright's 25 years as President shaped East Carolina and provided a foundation for what the college would become as it continued to grow.
The records of Robert Herring Wright include biographical materials, correspondence, administrative records, speeches, news clippings, and other miscellaneous materials. The records begin in 1906 and end in 1934.