William Henry Hayes Papers

Collection Summary

Title: William Henry Hayes Papers
Call Number: MS 98-12
Size: 1.0 linear feet
Acquisition: Donated by the Wichita Public Library, 7-19-1997
Processed by: MLR, 5-17-1998; SMC, 1999; MN, 1999; MN, 12-7-2011

Literary Rights

Literary rights were not granted to Wichita State University. When permission is granted to examine manuscripts, it is not an authorization to publish them. Manuscripts cannot be used for publication without regard for common law literary rights, copyright laws and the laws of libel. It is the responsibility of the researcher and his/her publisher to obtain permission to publish. Scholars and students who eventually plan to have their work published are urged to make inquiry regarding overall restrictions on publication before initial research.

Content Note

William Henry Hayes, a minister and professor, taught at Fairmount College in Wichita during the late 1910s and early 1920s. This collection of his papers contains his diaries from 1925-1938. Also included are photographs, excerpts from publications that mention him, Wichita city directory listings for the Hayes family, his obituary and his personal bookplate. Providing additional information is an audiotaped interview of daughters Muriel and Margaret Hayes conducted in 1986.


William Henry Hayes was born in 1869 at New York, New York. Little is known of Hayes’ childhood, other than the youngster and his father did not enjoy the happiest of relationships. Keeping this in mind, young Hayes, independent in nature and anxious to pursue an education, left home at the age of fourteen. To support himself while going to school, Hayes held a variety of jobs. Throughout his undergraduate career, he was a night telephone operator.

Two of the major events of Hayes’ life occurred during 1896 in Middletown, Connecticut. He graduated from Connecticut Wesleyan College with an A.B. degree in Religious and Ministerial Studies, but even more important to Hayes was his marriage that occurred the day before graduation to his life’s companion, Jessie (May 7, 1873-May 21, 1948).

The young couple began their life together at Methodist Pastorate in Bullville, New York. Over the next two years, Hayes developed philosophical concerns about aspects of the Methodist doctrine. This theological questioning led him to Yale University. He graduated from Yale with a Masters of Theology degree and he was soon ordained a minister of the Congregational Church. A second aspect of Hayes’ intellectual searching manifested itself during this period: the growth of his personal library. A lifelong collector of books, his collection at times overwhelmed the small parsonage to which the family was assigned. The library also made moving a most strenuous experience, one that with the purchase of additional volumes, increased over the years.

The early years of the 20th century were busy ones for Dr. and Mrs. Hayes. They served various Congregational churches in New England, such as North Guilford, Connecticut, Windsor, Vermont, Lisbon, New Hampshire, and Oxford, Massachusetts. The Hayes children were born during this time: two girls, Muriel and Margaret, and two boys, Earl and Hubbard. Hayes also continued his education. He received a Ph.D. from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

By 1918, Dr. Hayes and his family were poised to begin another phase of their lives, one that would take them from the home comforts of New England to the plains of South Central Kansas. The summer of 1918 found Dr. Hayes and family in Wichita, Kansas. As different as his new home was from New England, Dr. Hayes was pleased with Wichita. He commented on the fact that in Kansas, one was likely to find a bank on the corner, while back east, one was more apt to see a saloon.

A teaching position at Fairmount College (now Wichita State University) had occasioned the family’s relocation. The fall term of 1918 saw Dr. Hayes installed as Professor of Philosophy, Religious Education, and Classical Languages. While at Fairmount, Dr. Hayes was instrumental in the implementation of testing student intelligence. Hayes utilized procedures developed by the military during World War I for the testing of Army personnel. While later years saw the validity of this testing technique questioned, Hayes had helped identify the educational necessity of providing specific programs for the various ability levels of students at the institution.

During his tenure at Fairmount College, Dr. Hayes’ family lived on Holyoke Street, just south of the campus. Several other faculty members made their homes there as well. Due to Maple Grove Cemetery bordering the south, the campus to the north, and development not having started to the west or east, the Hayes family felt they lived in a small community apart from the large city. The fact that several of Fairmount’s faculty came from New England increased the small town feel of the neighborhood. Summer evenings were filled with impromptu musical concerts provided by faculty and talented family members.

Dr. Hayes left Fairmount College and Wichita for a teaching position at Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan. A call to the active ministry prompted Dr. Hayes to leave Olivet in1925 and accept a church in Miller, Indiana (a suburb of Gary). The family stayed in Miller until 1929, and then the economic downturn experienced by the nation found its way to Miller, Indiana. The steel industry, so important to the Gary area, collapsed, and the Congregational Church at Miller closed its doors.

Dr. Hayes and his family moved back to Wichita in 1930. Muriel, the oldest of the children, taught school, and with Dr. Hayes’ earnings as an interim minister, the family made it through the darkest years of the Depression. The First Reformed Church of Wichita called Dr. Hayes to the pulpit in 1934 as its senior minister, a position he held until 1937 when ill health forced him to retire.

Though in diminished health, Dr. Hayes’ last years saw the continuation of his intellectual exploration and search for religious truth. Hayes met often with Rabbi Richmond, with whom he spoke Hebrew, and various Roman Catholic priests, with whom he spoke Latin. These meetings were dubbed “Forums of Understanding” by the participating clerics, and were held in the hope that the fundamental truths shared by the various sects could be used as a foundation for ecumenical understanding.

Dr. William Henry Hayes died on November 19, 1940 at his home in Wichita. The heart problem that had plagued him during his last years was given as the cause of death.

Series Listing

Series 1

Box 1-Box 2 FF 3

Diaries, 1925-1938. Arranged chronologically. Entries concern activities of Hayes and his family with emphasis on his duties as a Congregational minister in Miller, Indiana and Wichita, Kansas. Weather summaries are included in the daily entries. Clipped newspaper articles chronicling church events, lectures, and other occasions of interest to the Hayes family are pasted in the diaries. The final pages of each annual volume contain the personal financial records of Dr. Hayes, lists of books he had read during the year, and members received into the church during the year.

Series 2

Box 2 FF 4

Audiotaped Interview. Interview of daughters Muriel and Margaret Hayes conducted by Bill Ellington and Beverly Henline, October 1, 1986.

Series 3

Box 2 FF 5

Miscellaneous. Biographical and other documents.

Box and Folder Listing

Series 1 -- Diaries


Box 1

FF 1

Diary, 1925, 1926.

Box 1

FF 2

Diary, 1927, 1928.

Box 1

FF 3

Diary, 1929, 1930.

Box 1

FF 4

Diary, 1931, 1932.

Box 2

FF 1

Diary, 1933, 1934.

Box 2

FF 2

Diary, 1935, 1936.

Box 2

FF 3

Diary, 1937, 1938.


Series 2 -- Audiotaped Interview


Box 2

FF 4

Audiotaped interview. Daughters Margaret and Muriel Hayes interviewed by Bill Ellington and Beverly Henline, October 1, 1986. Topics include the life and work of their father, Dr. William Henry Hayes. Also included are the women's memories of living near Fairmount College during the 1920s and 30s, the development of Fairmount College and University of Wichita, along with the growth of Wichita.


Series 3 -- Miscellaneous


Box 2

FF 5

Miscellaneous. Photocopies of Hayes' obituary from the Wichita Beacon (November 19, 1940). Photocopies of pages 99-100, History of Fairmount College, Rollins, concerning Dr. William Henry Hayes. Photocopies of page with caption of Fairmount College faculty, including Dr. Hayes from Fairmount College's yearbook, Parnassus, 1919. Page of student humor that mentions Dr. Hayes. Photocopies of pages of Wichita city directories that list Dr.William Henry Hayes in 1920, 1925-1943. Book plate of Dr. Hayes.