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Robert L. Madison Collection

Identifier: MSS 81-15

Content Description

Madison was born in Staunton, VA, on Feb. 17, 1867. He was the son of Robert Lewis and Helen Banister Madison. In 1885, he graduated from the University of Chattanooga. In 1888, Madison moved to Sylva, NC. In 1891, he married Ella V. Richards of Elizabeth, NJ. They had six children: Robert Edward, James Ambrose, Annie Louise, Monro Bolling, William Haight, and John Banister.

Robert Lee Madison founded Cullowhee High School, forerunner of Western Carolina University, in 1889. He served as president of the institution from 1899-1912 and from 1920-1923.

Madison served as principal of Webster High School (Webster, NC) from 1912-1913. From 1915-1918, he was principal of Higdonville High School, in Macon County, NC. In 1919, he became principal of Franklin High School (Franklin, NC). Finally, he returned to Sylva in 1920 to become Superintendent of Schools.

Madison wrote of his experience as a teacher in his articles, “Experiences of a Pedagogue in the Carolina Highlands”. As well as being a teacher and administrator, Mr. Madison was a poet and essayist. He served as editor of the weekly newspaper The Tuckaseigee Democrat (Sylva, NC).

Madison retired from teaching at the age of 70. He died 17 years later, on October 1, 1954, and was buried at St. David's Episcopal Church in Cullowhee, NC.

The Madison collection is grouped as follows: Correspondence, newspaper clippings, articles and essays by Robert Lee Madison; memorial songs and poems to Robert Lee Madison; writings from Madison's college career; genealogical materials; biographical materials; materials relating to Jackson County Schools; Maury's Elementary Geography; and copies of “Experiences of a Pedagogue in the Carolina Highlands”, Madison’s column that appeared in the Asheville Citizen.


  • 1880 - 1955

Conditions Governing Use

No publication fee is made for use of Western Carolina University Library special collections material in scholarly publications. The Library retains sole right to judge what constitutes a non-scholarly or commercial publication. Permission to publish commercially, in circumstances where the Library is qualified to grant it, requires proper authorization. Please contact Special Collections at for more information.


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Repository Details

Part of the Hunter Library - Special Collections Repository

Cullowhee United States