Vanderbilt Aid Society Records

Identifier: MSS.0471

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

This small collection consists 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. There is also an unprocessed addition from 2009 and 2010.


  • 1894 - 1950

Historical Note

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 thus given."

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.


2.3 Linear Feet (2 Hollingers, 1 Half Hollinger, 1 Paige box)

Language of Materials



The Vanderbilt Aid Society Records, 1894-1950, consist of correspondence, financial reports, and meeting minutes of the Ladies Aid Society for the Students of Vanderbilt University, later renamed the Vanderbilt Aid Society, 1894-.

Physical Location

Special Collections & Archives

Finding Aid for the Vanderbilt Aid Society Records
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States


About this Site

This site contains collection guides, or finding aids, to the archival collections held by Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives, the History of Medicine Collection, and the Scarritt Bennett Center. Finding aids describe the context, arrangement, and structure of archival materials, allowing users to identify and request materials relevant to their research.

Requesting Materials

Each finding aid contains a link to request materials from the collections. Collections can also be requested by emailing the repository directly through the library website. Each repository has its own location, hours, and contact information. Please consult the repository with questions about using the materials. Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the repository’s reading room. In many cases, the collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval.