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Frank M. Rarig papers

Identifier: ua-00772

Scope and Content

Although Rarig's teaching career spanned forty years at the University, his papers do not reflect that portion of his professional life. The bulk of the correspondence dates from his retirement in 1948. His professional correspondence is contained in the records of the Theatre Department and the Speech Department which he chaired from 1927 to 1948.

Rarig maintained an extensive series of correspondence after his retirement with many of his former students,and colleagues, which documents unique personal reflection upon his education and aspects of his career at the University. The collection also contains a rich record of his relationship to his siblings, spouse, children and other family.

The collection also represents a potential source for biographers of Wayne Morse, as letters on his early teaching career and subsequent move into politics are included. Rarig was interested in the history of speech education and, in 1948, he was asked to assist in compiling a history of the Speech Association of America. Correspondence with his colleagues regarding the formation and subsequent history of the organization have been retained and represent a source of information regarding the Association.

Also included in the collection are memorabilia and correspondence regarding his sabbatical year (1936/1937) in England, his retirement in 1948, his death in 1963, and records documenting his Minneapolis home and Wisconsin farm where the family spent most of their summer vacations. The collection also include 50 annotated books, a collection of postcards, notes, and other memorabilia.


  • 1901-1966


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Sketch of Frank M. Rarig (1880-1963)

Frank M. Rarig was born in Minneapolis, Kansas in 1880. He received his early education in rural Kansas schools, started college at Kansas Wesleyan, but finished his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Northwestern University in 1903 and 1905 respectively. He never completed his doctoral degree although he took a sabbatical from the University of Minnesota to work on his dissertation at Harvard in 1917/1918.

Rarig's teaching career began at the University of Minnesota in 1908 as an assistant professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Public Speaking. In 1917 the English Department absorbed rhetoric and public speaking and for the next ten years, Rarig sought to establish an independent speech department. In 1927, Rarig became the first chairman of the newly created Speech Department, which included rhetoric, drama and speech pathology.

During Rarig's tenure as department chairman, the study of both theatre and public speaking gained in stature. His goal was to produce plays that would command respect from the community and Twin Cities theater critics. Under his leadership, enrollment in speech classes grew from one class to as many as 18 sections of beginning speech.

Rarig was most interested in oral interpretation of literature although he coached debate and public speaking. Several of his students sought careers in public service; they include Hubert H. Humphrey, Arthur (Red) Motley, Roy Wilkins, and E.W. Ziebarth. He was a colleague of Wayne Morse who left teaching to take a law degree and become Oregon's U.S. Senator.

Rarig was married in 1906 to Eta Galbreath. They had five children, Frank Jr., Margaret Osterman, Robert, Frederick, and Barbara Grinder.

He retired in 1948 and was succeeded by E. W. Ziebarth as chairman of the speech department. In 1948 and 1949 Rarig taught speech during summer sessions at the University of Missouri. He was in demand as a visiting professor and taught courses at the Universities of Utah and California. Frank Rarig died in 1963 at the age of 83. The Rarig Center, named in honor of Frank M. Rarig, was dedicated on 1 June 1973 and today houses the Department of Theatre Arts, University Theatre and Radio K (formerly KUOM).


8.75 Cubic Feet (7 boxes)


Collection contains the papers of Frank Rarig, professor and chairman of the Department of Speech at the University of Minnesota.


Correspondence is arranged alphabetically. Short runs of correspondence were placed in the general section under each letter and organized chronologically. "Rarig Personal" contains family correspondence and records arranged chronologically by subject.

Source of acquisition

This collection was deposited to the University Archives on 14 October 1970 by the Rarig family after the death of Eta Rarig, wife of Frank M. Rarig.

Related Material in University Archives

Department of Speech, Communication and Theatre Arts records

Department of Theatre Arts records

Frank M. Rarig papers, 1901-1966
Penelope Krosch; updated by Karen Klinkenberg and Bailey Diers
March 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area