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Alvin M. Ferst, Jr. Papers

Identifier: MS388

  • Staff Only


This collection contains Alvin M. Ferst's papers pertaining to his activities with Georgia Tech, particularly his involvement in the Georgia Tech Foundation as well as the Georgia Tech Alumni Association. Less well documented are his various civic activities in Atlanta. Ferst's personal life and his professional career at Rich's department store are not covered in the collection.


  • 1958-2001 (bulk dates 1962-2001)
  • Majority of material found within 1962 - 2001


Physical Description

(fourteen document cases)

Restrictions: Access

Several folders containing confidential and/or private information have been restricted. These are noted in the box-folder list at the end of this finding aid.

Restrictions: Use

Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.


5.6 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The papers of Alvin M. Ferst Jr. are divided into two series: Georgia Tech Activities; Georgia Tech Research Park; and Civic Activities.

The first series, Georgia Tech Associations and Committees, extensively documents Alvin M. Ferst's service to Georgia Tech, particularly as a fund-raiser and as a participant in campus planning, from the 1960s to the early 2000s. The series is divided into four overlapping subseries, each of which covers about a decade. The first of these subseries mainly dates from the 1960s and documents Ferst's work on the Arthur D. Little Study, a committee to set the direction of research at Georgia Tech, as well as the efforts to develop a Georgia Tech Research Park, a proposal for a 500-acre site northeast of Atlanta. (The project eventually developed into Technology Park Atlanta in Norcross, Georgia.) Some documentation of Ferst's service on the Georgia Tech Alumni Association is also found in this subseries. Subseries 2, which covers mainly the decade of the 1970s, contains significant material on the Georgia Tech Foundation, its fund-raising efforts and its committees, as well as folders on the Athletic Association; Ferst's honor society at Tech, Omicron Delta Kappa; and a planned Tech Motel. In Subseries 3, which dates mainly from the late 1980s, a majority of the records again pertain to the Georgia Tech Foundation. The subseries also includes correspondence with the Tech President of this time period, John P. Crecine; correspondence, annual reports, and minutes of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association; materials relating to Ferst's avid interest in Georgia Tech sports (in the Athletic Association folder); and financial documents, especially those related to donations to Georgia Tech. Subseries 4, covering the 1990s and early 2000s, again includes extensive material on the Georgia Tech Foundation and other general Georgia Tech correspondence and pamphlets. Of particular interest are several folders on Tech's College of Management, which was then known as the DuPree College of Management.

Series 2, Civic Activities, is much smaller in volume than Series 1. This series contains a small amount of documentation of Ferst's activities in Atlanta civic groups, particularly the Kiwanis Club, the United Way, and the Commerce Club. This series also includes information on the Atlanta World Tower, a project planned for downtown Atlanta during the 1990s.

While this collection provides a wealth of material on Ferst's involvement with Georgia Tech, very little pertains to Ferst's personal life. One newsletter from Druid Hills High School dating from 1938, found in Subseries 1 of the first series, documents Ferst's participation on his high school basketball team. A 1958 letter regarding the reunion of the Class of 1943 is also included in Series 1, Subseries 1. Little else of his personal activities is found in this collection, apart from some personal correspondence scattered throughout the two series. In addition, none of this collection documents Ferst's professional work at Rich's department store. However, Subseries 3 and 4 of Series 1 do contain evidence of Ferst's work at his real estate consulting firm, Alvin Ferst Associates, Inc.

Biography of Alvin M. Ferst, Jr.

Alvin M. (Alvin Meinhard) Ferst, Jr. (1922-2009) was the Executive Vice President and Treasurer of Rich's Department Store. He worked with the company for 35 years, overseeing the expansion of Rich's from its one downtown store to numerous satellite locations. During and after his career at Rich's, he was an active donor and advisor at his alma mater, the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Ferst, an Atlanta native, was born May 6, 1922. He grew up in the Druid Hills neighborhood, and lived on Springdale Road, near Emory University. Like many men in his family, Ferst attended Georgia Tech, where he majored in Industrial Management. While at Tech, he was a member of the tennis team, ANAK, Omicron Delta Kappa, and President of Phi Epsilon Pi and the Bulldog Club. Graduating in February 1943, Ferst went on to join the Philco Corporation as an industrial engineer, but soon joined the Navy as a member of the Seabees.

Returning to Atlanta in 1946, Ferst began work at Rich's department store as an industrial engineer and manager. While at Rich's, he oversaw the store's expansion to several satellite locations, including the mall anchor at Lenox Square in Atlanta in 1959. At the time of his retirement from Rich's in the early 1980s, he held the position of Executive Vice President and Treasurer. After retiring, he began his own business and real estate consulting firm, Alvin Ferst Associates, Inc., which he ran for ten years.

While at Rich's, Ferst met his wife, Charlotte Elizabeth Boyette. They married on March 15, 1950. The couple had three daughters, Mary Lane (b. 1952), and twins Doris Leslie and Sylvia Leigh (b. 1954). Charlotte Ferst died in 2003.

A distinguished alumnus of Georgia Tech, Ferst was an active donor, fund-raiser, and leader in the Tech community. His activities included membership on the Centennial Campaign Steering Committee (1983-1988), the Georgia Tech Foundation (1969-1991), and the Georgia Tech Alumni Association (formerly known as the Georgia Tech National Alumni Association) (1961-1968). He served as President of the Alumni Association (1966-1967) and President of the Georgia Tech Foundation (1979-1981). For fiscal year 1976, Ferst was appointed by President Gerald Ford to head the National Alliance of Businessmen in Metro Atlanta. He received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award from Georgia Tech in 1983. The Alvin M. Ferst Leadership and Entrepreneurship Scholarship, given annually to a Tech junior or senior who demonstrates his or her outstanding achievements in entrepreneurship and campus or community leadership, was founded by Charlotte Ferst in 1994.

Besides his many activities with Tech, Ferst was an active civic leader, including service as the Vice President of the Metro Atlanta YMCA, President of the Atlanta Kiwanis Foundation, Treasurer of Literacy Action, and Director of United Way.

Ferst died on September 30, 2009 at the age of 87.


The arrangement of this collection reflects in large part the original order of the papers, which were mainly grouped by decade. The collection is arranged into two series, the first of which is subdivided into four subseries:

Missing Title

  1. SERIES 1. Georgia Tech Associations and Committees
  2. SERIES 2. Civic Activities

Other Finding Aids

A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.


Donation, 2001; Accession number 2001.052.

Separated Materials

The small number of visual materials in this collection have been separated and will be processed as VAM388.

Physical Description

(fourteen document cases)

Processing information

Cathy Miller processed this collection in June 2011.

Inventory of the Alvin M. Ferst, Jr. Papers, 1958-2001 (bulk dates 1962-2001)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology Repository

Georgia Institute of Technology
266 4th Street, NW
Atlanta 30332-0900 USA