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J. Wilbert and Ellen A. Chappell Papers

Identifier: SC 0200
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The J. Wilbert and Ellen A. Chappell Papers, 1946-1978, consist of three folders of congratulatory letters, Faculty Wives Sewing Circle programs, photographs, and miscellany.

The collection is comprised primarily of congratulatory letters addressed to Dr. Chappell in celebration of his retirement in 1975. The letters, originally compiled in a scrapbook, were written by various members of the JMU community including faculty members and Dr. Chappell's former students. Also present are other materials relating to Dr. Chappell's retirement such as luncheon invitations and a guest list. Nine programs from the Faculty Wives Sewing Circle, dating from 1946 to 1958, are also included. A folder of miscellany contains a black and white photograph of a groundbreaking ceremony with corresponding negative and enlarged print as well as other ephemera. The identity of the photographed persons, with the exception of Dr. Chappell, is unknown.


  • 1946-1978


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collection Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Bio/Historical Note

Born in Paola, Kansas, James Wilbert Chappell (1906-1989) was the son of George Lee Chappell and Mary Adeline Smith Chappell. He graduated from Ottowa University in 1929 and received his Master's and Doctoral degrees from the University of Kansas. He married Ellen Aileen Harris on December 22, 1936. After becoming assistant professor of chemistry at Fort Hays State College in Kansas, where he taught from 1935-1943, Dr. Chappell joined the faculty at Madison College where he served as chair of the Chemistry Department until 1971. He retired as professor emeritus in 1975. Dr. Chappell was a member of various national panhellenic societies and local organizations including the Harrisonburg Kiwanis Club.

Ellen Aileen Harris (1914-2006) was born in Lawrence, Kansas to Allen Shackleford Harris and Martha Washington Harris. She graduated from the University of Kansas with an A.B. degree and also pursued graduate work at James Madison University. Upon moving to Harrisonburg in 1943, Ellen Chappell taught fifth grade at Mt. Clinton, Bridgewater, and Pleasant Valley Elementary schools and was active in various local organizations including the Lanier Garden Club and the Rockingham Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. She was also the founder of the Madison College Faculty Wives Sewing Circle, which later became the James Madison University Women's Club.


0.16 cubic feet (3 folders)

Language of Materials



The J. Wilbert and Ellen A. Chappell Papers, 1946-1978, consist of three folders of congratulatory letters, Faculty Wives Sewing Circle programs, photographs, and miscellany.


The collection is arranged topically in three folders.

Acquisition Information

Materials within this collection were donated by Mary Ann Chappell, the Chappells' daughter-in-law, as two separate accessions between 2009 and 2010.


  • Daily News-Record, June 3, 1989 and March 20, 2006.

Processing Information

Congratulatory letters were removed from the scrapbook and placed loose in their original order in an acid-free folder.

In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in 2017-2018. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 5022.

A Guide to the J. Wilbert and Ellen A. Chappell Papers, 1946-1978
Tiffany Cole
July 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612