Date of Award

Summer 1942

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Virginia was most fortunate in having as her first Superintendent of Public Instruction, and later, as President of her first Teacher-Training institution, a man who under­ stood the .American ideals of democracy and whose faith in education and its ennobling effect on humanity never wavered.

It has been said that "he lit the torch of educa- tion in Virginia", and "gave local habitation and a name to the great plans of Jefferson." He has been called also, "the founder and father of Virginia's public school system", "the Horace Mann of Virginia", "the interpreter and fulfiller of Jefferson's dream", and "the apostle of education to the masses.

In educational literature other high tributes have been paid to William Henry Ruffner's outstanding achievements as an educational statesman. His life and his plans for developing a finer type of citizen through a system of free public schools commanded the interest of the writer. She decided to make a survey of the published accounts of Dr. Ruffner's efforts in behalf of public education, to study the eleven Annual Reports made while he was State Superintendent of Public Instruction, to examine the minutes of the Farmville Normal School for the years during his presidency of that institution, and to assemble in one report the results of her study.

In this thesis attention is directed to those qualities that are responsible for the place that Dr.Ruffner holds as an educator and as an American citizen. Students of education in the South have long been aware of his monumental work. It was his ambition to extend educational opportunities to all the people of the state, and its realization became a consuming passion that extended throughout his life.

My own faith in education has been revitalized by this study . Enemies that civilization has to face have grown more numerous and more powerful, and in order to preserve our heritage, we must demonstrate our loyalties to the principles of democratic education, even to the extent that we are willing "life itself to give, rather than lose the things for which we live.

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