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Engineer's Report on Campus Drives and Walks

 Collection — Box: Multi
Identifier: VAC406

  • Staff Only


The 24 photographs in this collection document the deplorable conditions of the walkways and roads on the Georgia Tech campus in 1919.


  • 1919-1920


Physical Description

(2 copies, 24 photos each)

Restrictions: Access


Restrictions: Use

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


0.1 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

This collection contains 24 black and white photographs taken by Phinehas V. Stephens in June 1919. These photographs document the deplorable conditions of the walkways and roads on the Georgia Tech campus. Stephens describes the location of each photo and the dangerous conditions that exist at each location. In the 1920 preface letter to the Board of Trustees and the school's president, Kenneth G. Matheson, Stephens appeals to them to make permanent repairs. Stephens argues that making permanent repairs not only is safer for the students but also saves money in the long-run.

There are two copies of this report. Both copies contain the same images, however they are not in the same order. Additionally, the captions in one copy are handwritten, while in the other, the captions are typed. The numbers in brackets following each item description identify the photo number in each report: the report with the typed captions is listed first; the report with the handwritten captions is second.

Biographical Note

Born in 1879 in Maine, Phinehas Varnum Stephens was a grandson of Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens. Phinehas V. Stephens received two bachelor’s degrees from the Georgia School of Technology: the first degree in 1905 in Electrical Engineering and the second in Mechanical Engineering in 1914.

The first few years following his graduation in 1905, Stephens worked for several companies, however he soon established himself as a consulting engineer. Although Stephens, his wife Charlotte, and their three children lived in New York City, Stephens worked all along the East Coast, including a significant amount work for Tech.

Stephens served his alma mater in many capacities, particularly as a consulting engineer and as a lobbyist. In 1914, he was in charge of the construction of Tech's new power plant. Later that year, he agreed to lead the Greater Georgia Tech fund-raising campaign. This drive, originally to raise $500,000 for campus improvements, was tabled during the First World War. After the war the campaign was resurrected, still lead by Stephens, this time aiming to raise even more money to improve the physical plant of the school and establish Tech as a center for research and industrial development for all of Georgia.

P.V. Stephens lobbied extensively to establish an engineering experiment station in each state and for Georgia Tech to be the location in Georgia. As part of his Tech booster activities, Stephens also helped to reorganize and reinvigorate the GT alumni organization in 1920.

In 1927, Stephens and another lighting engineer, Samuel Hibben, designed and installed a light show at the Natural Bridge of Virginia. The “Drama of Creation” remains an attraction at the Natural Bridge and still retains the original character developed by Stephens and Hibben.

Stephens incurred an untimely death on 16 December 1927 when he fell out of an airplane. A New York Times article on 17 December 1927 and his obituary in that paper the next day stated that Stephens was on an air tour of Virginia helping Shenandoah Valley municipalities campaign for airports. While the plane was over the Blue Ridge Mountains, the pilot drove into a severe storm that caused the aircraft to drop abruptly from 3000 to 2000 feet. This sudden descent “unseated” Stephens and Richard R. Fellers, one of the other two passengers on the plane. Fellers “seized a wing and saved his life” but Stephens fell to his death.


The materials in this collection remain in their original order as created by P.V. Stephens.

Other Finding Aids

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


Accession #2012.004. These items were previously cataloged as T171 .G44 S73x 1920.

Physical Description

(2 copies, 24 photos each)

Processing Information

Mandi D. Johnson processed these visual materials in January 2012.

Inventory of Engineer's Report on Campus Drives and Walks Visual Materials, 1919-1920
Mandi D. Johnson
Copyright January 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

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