When looking at the images of James Record, one tends to see a hard, strict man. From the many accounts of him, he was strict, but he was also much more. He was a man that worked very hard for what he believed, and expected others to as well. He made ways for many students to come to Pikeville for an education, as long as they were willing to work. His wife, Margret, in addition to running a boarding house to supplement the school’s finances, served as the mother of many children far from their own families.
Born in 1861, Dr. James Record was the sixth president of the University of Pikeville, then known as the Pikeville Collegiate Institute. James and Margaret Record were serving at the Presbyterian Church in Kasota, Minnesota in 1899, when they met William. F. Fulton, a trustee of the Pikeville Collegiate Institute. The Presbyterian General Assembly was being held in Minneapolis that year, and Dr. Fulton was hoping to find someone to take the helm of the 10-year old institution. L. M. Cornelison had just left after only a year, and conditions for the small school were very fragile. Dr. Fulton returned home from the General Assembly, but continued to correspond with Dr. Record, in hopes that he would agree to the position. After “much prayerful consideration,” James and Margaret Record, along with their three children, Alice, Helen, and Paul, came to Pikeville, KY to work for the school.
On the way down to Pikeville, Dr. Record stopped in Ashland to meet Dr. Condit and discuss the state of the school. Dr. Condit gave him the order to “Go in and make what you can of the work,” and Dr. Record did. During 1899 to 1901, Mrs. Record, a former educator, began teaching the lower grades because the school was unable to afford the salary of the elementary teacher. A smallpox epidemic during that time also caused the resignation of three additional teachers.
By the end of this two year period, however, the school was beginning to grow. In 1901, The Training School for teachers was established. Wanting to make sure that a good education was available to all the students of Central Appalachia, Pikeville Collegiate Institute opened the teacher’s Training School to give teachers currently serving in the area schools a chance to learn and gain the knowledge to pass the teacher certification tests. Dr. Record traveled all over Pike County to encourage area teachers to attend the training. The Training School eventually became so popular that teachers were coming from Ohio to attend the classes.
In 1902, four rooms were added to the Collegiate building, and at graduation, a proud trustee proclaimed that “Now we have all the buildings we will ever need.” By 1905, construction began again. Before Dr. Record’s presidency was over, he would see the completion of two new dorms, Derriana Hall and Wickham Hall, the Administration Building, Wickham Chapel, the Laughlin Cottage, a new President’s home, and the first Gymnasium.
Typhoid fever hit the area in 1903, killing both Professor James R. Boal and the sister of Margaret Record. James Records was also stuck by the disease, which almost killed him. He never really had the chance to recover from it, and much of his decision to resign in 1911 was caused by the effects of the typhoid fever. Before resigning the first time, however, Dr. Record was able to have the Articles of Incorporation amended in 1909 to make the Pikeville Collegiate Institute a charted college, empowered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, through the University of Kentucky, to confer baccalaureate degrees. This same year, we became Pikeville College.
On an unusual side note, according to the history written by Alice Kinder, during Dr. Record’s first term, there was a period of animosity towards the school. People in the community were wary of the Presbyterian influence and felt that outsiders ran the school. Kinder records that there was at least one attempt to bomb the school, which was thwarted when Dr. Record found the unexploded dynamite under the building. Fortunately, this view did not last long, and school regained strong support in the community as it grew.
Though the Records left in 1911, they returned once more to the school in 1915. They would stay until 1932. It was during this second term as president that Dr. Record helped battle trachoma in the area. In 1916, trachoma had become so bad in the area that Dr. Records petitioned the federal government for aid and received it. The Derriana became a trachoma clinic, and in its first day, 60 cases were treated and 9 operations were performed. In the year that the clinic functioned, people came from as far away as Nebraska for treatment.
Dr. Record traveled all over the country to raise awareness of Pikeville College. His visits, sermons, and speeches helped the school to raise enough money to expand far beyond its small beginning. The school grew from a primary and secondary school, to a growing educational resource offering college classes to the people of Eastern Kentucky and the surrounding area. In 1932, Dr. Record resigned after almost 30 years as President of the institution. He passed away in 1935.
Kinder, Alice. (1989). Pikeville College Looks to the Hills, 1889-1989. Pikeville, KY: Pikeville College.
92-00 Pikeville College Collection. Special Collections and Archives, Frank M. Allara Library, University of Pikeville, Pikeville, Kentucky.
Record, Margaret. The Beginnings of Pikeville College. Pikeville, KY: Pikeville College.
Elkins, Stella, and Marion Kelley. The First Seventy-Five Years of Pikeville College 1889-1964. Pikeville, KY: Pikeville College.