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J. Franklin Witter papers

 Collection 281-UA
The papers of J. Franklin Witter consist of correspondence over a nearly twenty year period, 1926 to 1944. During this period Witter graduated from the University of Maryland (1928), received his Ph.D. in veterinary medicine from Michigan State College (1932), and returned to the University of Maryland to begin his career as a researcher and professor of animal pathology. Witter's letters are primarily addressed to Frances King and detail the ups and downs of their romantic relationship and activities associated with college. Topics discussed include the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), the Student Grange, the Varsity Debate Team, and the difficulties of Witter's decision not to work the family farm as his father expected. A small portion of the collected correspondence is also from and between members of the family of Frances King.


  • 1926-1944
  • Majority of material found within 1926-1930

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


0.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The papers of J. Franklin Witter include material covering the years 1926 to 1944; the majority of the materials falls within the years of 1926 to 1930. The collection consists of a series of letters primarily from J. Franklin Witter to Frances LaRue King. Also included are correspondence to and from members of the King Family, several newsclippings, and two names indexes. Important subjects include: the Student Grange, the Y.M.C.A., the Livestock Club, the Varsity Debate Team, and college student life.


J.[ohn] Franklin Witter was born on June 11, 1906 in Frederick, Maryland. After graduating from high school, Witter enrolled at the University of Maryland in the fall of 1924 to study agriculture. While at the university, Witter joined the Y.M.C.A., the Student Grange, the Poe Literary Society, the Calvert Forum, the Livestock Club, the Varsity Debating Team, and a fraternity, Delta Psi Omega. He often worked two jobs, one in the dining hall and the other in the Extension Service Office, to help defray the cost of his education. In addition, Witter was a member of three honorary societies: Alpha Zeta, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Phi Kappa Phi. During his senior year, Witter was president of the Y.M.C.A. and a member of the Y.M.C.A. Cabinet, Master of the Student Grange, president of the Inter-fraternity Council, president of the Tri-State Council Christian, Associations, captain of the Debate team, and president of the Livestock Club. In 1928 he received his degree as an Honor Roll student of the College of Agriculture.

After graduation, he taught vocational agricultural courses at West Friendship High School in Lisbon, Maryland for one year. The next year Witter entered the veterinary program at Michigan State College, worked as a graduate assistant in the animal pathology department, and in 1932 received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine.

Rather than open his own veterinary practice, Dr. Witter accepted a teaching position at the University of Maine in 1932 as an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Industry. Within ten years he attained the rank of professor and subsequently served as professor and head of the Department of Animal Pathology for fifteen years. In addition to teaching, Dr. Witter wrote several articles on diseases of poultry and large animals. In 1971 he retired as professor emeritus.

In addition to his teaching career, Dr. Witter served his state and his community. From 1940 to 1942 he was an advisor to the Division of Animal Industry of the State Department of Agriculture. He was a member of both the American and Maine Veterinary Medicine Associations and served as secretary- treasurer and president of the latter. Dr. Witter also belonged to the Poultry Science Association. In addition, Dr. Witter was a Kiwanian and in 1955 served as the lieutenant governor of the North East District. He was also a member of the Church of Universal Fellowship.

J. Franklin Witter died in September 1982 in Orono, Maine. He was survived by his wife, Verna, whom he married in 1933, and his son, R. L. Witter.


The collection has been organized as one series:
Series 1

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The papers of J. Franklin Witter were donated to the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries by Jay Kalvan in September 1990.

Related Material

Additional papers of J. Franklin Witter from his later career are located in the Special Collections Department of the Iowa State University, within the Archives of the American Association of Avian Pathologists.

Processing Information

Paper clips were removed and replaced with plastic clips over acid-free paper. All materials were placed in acid-free folders and all folders were placed in an acid-free box.
Guide to the J. Franklin Witter papers
Processed by Libby Blanton
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742