Alf Adams Papers

Identifier: MSS.0018

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

This collection contains newspaper clippings related to WWI and the 1915-1919 Vanderbilt football teams that Alfred Adams played for. Also included are telegrams and miscellaneous materials related to Alf Adams dating from 1917-1923.


  • circa 1915-1925; 1965-1967
  • Majority of material found within 1917 - 1923

Biographical / Historical

Alfred Thompson "Alf" Adams, Sr. (January 8, 1898 – December 4, 1982) was a Vanderbilt graduate and football player who played for the 1916-1920 football teams. He was captain of the 1917 team and selected All-Southern for the 1917 and 1919 seasons. After graduating from Vanderbilt Law School in 1922, Adams went on to practice law and later became a judge.

He was the brother of Adam Gillespie Adams, III, who has a small collection at Vanderbilt in MSS.0005.


ALFRED THOMPSON ADAMS, herein referred to as "CHANCELLOR ADAMS", was born in Nashville, Tennessee on January 8th, 1898 and died in Nashville on December 4th , 1982. In the intervening years he led an eventful and useful life and fashioned a distinquish'ed career.

CHANCELLOR ADAMS' father was ADAMS GILLESPIE ADAMS , II, a Nashville businessman, and his mother SUE HOWELL ADAMS. Their family consisted of seven sons of which CHANCELLOR ADAMS was the sixth. Following the early death of his father, his mother had the sole responsibility of rearing seven boys. She was a lasting influence in his life. He often spoke of her, expressing his admiration, love and esteem.

As a boy CHANCELLOR ADMAS attended Tarbox Grammar School and later Wallace University School. He graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.S. Degree in 1918 and obtained his LL.B Degree from Vanderbilt Law School in 1921. He continued to be a staunch friend and supporter of Vanderbilt.

While in Vanderbilt CHANCELLOR ADAMS engaged actively in intercollegiate athletics . He was chosen as Captain of both the football and the basketball teams. He was named as an All Southern Conference end in 1919. His education was interrupted by World War I in which he served as Second Lieutenant in Field Artillery . During World War II he again served his country as Major in the Air Corps. He continued his interest in athletics after his graduation, coaching the football and basketball teams at Hume Fogg High School. His basketball team in 1922 was one of the best in the county, reaching the finals in the National Tournament at Chicago.

Following his graduation from Law School CHANCELLOR ADAMS passed the Bar and became associated in the practice of law with his uncle, R. B.C. HOWELL, and MYLES P. O' CONNOR. In February of 1923 he was married to MISS KARIN HUGHES of Wills Point, Texas who survives him. They have six children, KARIN ADAMS STEWART, ROSALIE ADAMS AVENT, MARY ADAMS WILEY, ALFRED T. ADAMS,JR., BENJAMIN S. ADAMS AND JOHN PHILLIPS ADAMS. CHANCELLOR ADAMS loved his family . Nothing pleased him more than being at the Adams' country home on the mountain at Beersheba surrounded by children and grandchildren.

CHANCELLOR ADMAS was a member of t he General Assembly of the State of Tennessee in the Legislative Session of 1923 through 1924. From 1946 to 1951 he served as Professor of Law at Cumberland Law School, work which he enjoyed, making many lasting friends. He was President of the Nashville Bar Association in 1947-1948 and President of the Tennessee Bar Association in 1952-1953. He was appointed Chancellor of Part II of the Chancery Court for Davidson County by Governor Clement i n 1957, and served with distinction in that office until his retirement in 1970 .

In 1953 by Act of the General Assembly of the State, a Permanent Code Commission was named, consisting of CHIEF JUSTICE A. B. NEIL, ALFRED T. ADAMS, PAST PRESIDENT OF THE STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, JUDGE SAM L. FELTS, PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE MIDD 'l'ENNESSEE DIVISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS, ATTORNEY GENERAL ROY H. BEELER AND HARRY PHILLIPS , WHO SUBSEQUENTLY BECAME JUDGE AND LATER CHIEF JUDGE OF THE UNITED STATES SIXTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS. By the preparation of the first official Code Annotated this Commission made an enduring contribution to the orderly codification of the laws on the State of Tennessee . CHANCELLOR ADAMS participated actively in the work of this Commission.

CHANCELLOR ADMAS was a man of compassion with a keen sense of justice and utterly fearless In Kipling's phrase he could walk with kings and yet not lose the common touch. He loved a good story and enjoyed relating experiences especially those involving humorous circumstances and human foibles. The equity side of the law was his favorite field and he was specially well suited to occupy the Chancery Bench.

He was adamantly opposed to the proposal that all Trial Courts of record be given like jurisdiction of civil and criminal cases, because by so doing the Chancery Courts would be deprived of their distinctive character.

During his many years as a practicing Attorney CHANCELLOR ADAMS was a vigorous and active advocate and served his clients well. Upon his retirement from the Bench he continued his private practice with his son, Alfred T. Adams, Jr. and the Attorneys comprising the firm of which he is a member.

CHANCELLOR ADAMS was reared in the Presbyterian Church, a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Nashville until it removed to the Franklin Road location, at which time he remained with the members who stayed downtown, and with them formed the Downtown Presbyterian Church of which he remained a member until his death. He was active in the affairs of the Church, serving as a Deacon and Elder, and as a member of the James I.Vance Bible Class for more than fifty years . He had an abiding and confident faith in God and the ultimate triumph of right over wrong.

CHANCELLOR ADAMS loved his country, his state and his hometown of Nashville.

He was active in the Tennessee Historical Society and interested in local history concerning the City of Nashville of which he had a wealth of information.

Our nation, the State of Tennessee and the City of Nashville are privileged to have had a citizen who so steadfastly and loyally served their best interests in every field of endeavor of which he became a part.

It is impossible in the brief words of a memorial to picture CHANCELLOR ADAMS as we knew him. Nevertheless , we can express our appreciation of his life among us, acknowledge the debt which we owe him, and give recognition to a portion of the honor which he deserves. This we have undertaken to do in some samll measure by this memorial. Representing the Nashville Bar Association we say to the family and friends of CHANCELLOR ALFRED T. ADAMS that we understand how much they miss him, and neither they nor we shall ever forgot the challenge his life has set before us.

We move the adoption of this memorial and its enrollment on the Enrollment Book of t he Solicitors of the Chancery Court, the Court which CHANCELLOR ADAMS loved so much and served so well; and that copies of this memorial be furnished to Mrs. Adams and their children.

Respectfully submitted,



.21 Linear Feet (1 Half Hollinger box)

Language of Materials



This collection contains newspaper clippings related to WWI and the 1915-1919 Vanderbilt football teams that Alfred Adams played for. Also included are telegrams and miscellaneous materials related to Alf Adams dating from 1917-1923.

Physical Location

Special Collections & Archives

Finding Aid for the Alf Adams Papers
Zach Johnson
2018 August
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


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