On February 27, 1894, soon after James Kirkland became the second Chancellor of Vanderbilt, the first meeting of the Ladies Aid Society for Students of Vanderbilt University was held at the home of Mrs. Nathaniel Baxter on Spruce Street.(now 8th Avenue). Chancellor Kirkland had earlier proposed a women’s auxiliary to help raise money for worthy students, who otherwise could not remain enrolled in the university, and the Ladies’ Aid Society was the result. The first president of this organization was Mrs. Elizabeth Elliston, whose support of the Society lasted throughout her lifetime. By 1900 the name had changed to the Vanderbilt Aid Society by which it is still known today.
A quarter of a century after its founding in 1921 Mrs. E.W. Foster made this statement:
The purpose of the Society is to raise funds to assist needy and worthy students
to complete their education at the University.
Aid is furnished by the Society to students as a loan and not as a gift; interest is
charged on loans and someone personally interested in the student is required to
indorse for him.
In nearly all instances loans are paid back sooner, or later and in some cases much
more than the original amount has been returned to the fund.
If any test were needed the Vanderbilt Aid Society has abundant evidence of the
value of its work in the words of appreciation from hundreds of young men and
women who have been helped by its funds. Some of the best students of the
University have been enabled to go through college only by virtue of assistance
In April of 1960 the Society’s historian Aileen Bishop wrote concerning the purpose of the Vanderbilt Aid Society that it was not created “as a social club, but as a working organization to benefit the youth of our community.”More than 5,000 students have received loans from the fund for over 113 years.
Scope and Content Note
This small collection consists of 0.63 linear feet of materials relating to the founding of the Vanderbilt Aid Society, or the Ladies Aid Society for the Students of Vanderbilt University as it was called at the beginning. The collection contains correspondence, brief historical notes about the Society by various people connected with it, and the records that have been kept concerning the Treasurers’ reports and the loan fund reports, as well as the minutes from the meetings, 1894 - 1950.
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