Home Digital Collections

John Brown White Papers

Special Collections & Archives

The collection's logo
John Brown White was an educator and the third president of Wake Forest College (1848-1853). He was born in New Hampshire to David and Betsey Carter White on March 10, 1810. Brown attended Pembroke Academy and Brown University, where he graduated with B.A. and M.A. degrees (1832). In 1838, he became a Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Wake Forest College, where he also served as Secretary of the Board of Trustees and later as Treasurer of the Board. He was appointed interim president of the college in 1838 and later became acting president from 1848 to 1853. After leaving Wake Forest College, White became president of a girls seminary in Tennessee (1853-1855). He then helped found and became first president of Almira College, now Greenville College, in Illinois (1855-1864). He served as Chaplain of the 117th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment (1864-1865), part of the Union Army, before returning to his position as Almira College president for the remainder of his career (1865-1878).

White owned and enslaved people of African descent during the period he lived in the South. According to 1840 Wake County tax records, 1 enslaved person was held captive by Brown at that time. In the 1850 federal census, White is shown to have held six Black people in slavery altogether: three women, ages 33, 48, and 50; two men, ages 25 and 34; and one girl, age 4. At this time, their names are unknown.

White married Mary Powers Merriam in 1838 and they had seven children. He married his second wife Elizabeth Richardson Wright in 1857 and they had no children. White died in Illinois in 1887.

This collection contains biographical and family genealogy information, a photograph of White, and correspondence.