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Bert Clair and Ruth Lemon Riley Papers

Identifier: Ms Coll. 011

Scope and Content

The collection includes limited record of Bert Riley's involvement in Arkansas's GED and the Redpath Chautauquas. Included are photographs, flyers, and brochures related to Chautauqua events. Of special note in this regard are photographs and memoranda related to a Farmers' Chautauqua in Batesville, Arkansas. Other photographs of Arkansas include images of goat farms and farm families near Bentonville and Eureka Springs, the Chemistry Building at the University of Arkansas, and faculty of the General Extension Division. There are substantial files on Blue Key and Cardinal Key, the Florida State Fairs of 1921-1923, Riley's activities as an aide to the War Department, and General Extension work in Florida.

Most of the collection is arranged in an alphabetical subject file. However, many letters were found without folders and unidentified. These have been arranged chronologically under the heading "General Correspondence."


  • 1918-1963



University Archives collections are available for research. Portions of the collections may be restricted due to the requirements of applicable state and federal laws, including but not limited to FERPA and HIPAA, and in accordance with best practices as defined by the Society of American Archivists.

Biographical/Historical Note

Bert Clair Riley was the first director (later dean) of Florida's General Extension Division (GED). He was born in Rockford, Illinois, on November 12, 1891. He received an A.B. degree in 1912 at the University of Iowa and a B.S.A. from the University of Missouri in 1914. His first extension position was at the University of Indiana. In 1917, he was appointed director of Arkansas's GED. Riley was also active in Chautauqua programs at both Indiana and Arkansas. In 1919, Florida created its GED and Riley came to the University of Florida to organize its headquarters. Riley was also influential in extension work on the national level. He served as the vice-president of the National University Extension Association (NUEA) for 1921-1922 and as president in 1939-1940. He was president of the Southern Colleges and University Extension Association from 1922 to 1924.

Riley is remembered best as the founder of Florida Blue Key. The first Blue Key chapter was formed at the University of Florida in 1924 as a temporary committee of student leaders set up to arrange that year's Homecoming and Dad Day's celebrations. Riley also served as a civilian aide to the U. S. Department of War and later held the rank of major. He died June 28, 1962, two days prior to his scheduled retirement from the University of Florida.

Bert Riley was married to Ruth Lemon in April, 1912. Ruth Lemon Riley also participated in extension work and served as head of Florida GED's Department of Public Information and General Services. She was active in Cardinal Key, a national honorary sorority, and was its executive director from 1933 to 1963. She died in May, 1979.


5.2 Linear feet (13 boxes)

Language of Materials



Records of Bert Claire Riley, an instructor and university administrator at the University of Indiana, the University of Arkansas, and the University of Florida. Also includes the papers of his wife, Ruth Lemon Riley.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

A Guide to the Bert Clair and Ruth Lemon Riley Papers
Finding aid created by Dept. Staff
December 2008
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America