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Genealogical Documents Related to Lehigh University President Charles Russ Richards

Identifier: SC MS0267

Scope and Contents

The collection contains photographs, book, newspaper articles, genealogy charts, silhouette and two land deeds in the name of Robert Watt of Clinton County, Indiana. Robert Watt was the maternal grandfather of Charles Russ Richards.


  • Creation: 1833 - 1941
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1833 - 1941


Conditions Governing Access

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Conditions Governing Use

Collection is open for research. Please inquire about copyright information.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Russ Richards was Lehigh’s sixth president serving from 1922-1935. His maternal family ancestor included James Watt, the Scottish inventor and engineer, according to Memoirs of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Richards family was quite interested in genealogy and this collection includes mostly genealogical material. Dr. Richards’ mother was a daughter of Robert Watt and Jane McClelland Fagendus, pioneers of Clinton County, Indiana. In the 1830s Robert Watt purchased land in Clinton County, Indiana. Robert Watt was a nephew of James Watt, the Scottish inventor according to Charles Russ Richards’ understanding. A good possibility based on the prevalence of the name James in the Watt family. Robert Watt (b.1799) and his older brother, James (b.1797) were sons of William and Sarah Boyd Watt of Scotland. Probably William Watt was a brother of James Watt (1736-1819), the Scottish inventor. James and then Robert left Scotland as young men and went to London then to Canada. Robert eventually left Canada and settled in Clinton County, Indiana. He married Jane McClellan Fagendus from Pennsylvania. They had several children: Susan T. Watt (1833-1879) who in May 1853 married Samuel Kennedy Richards; James Watt (1835-?) and Sarah Elizabeth Watt (1841-?) who married Charles Richards, a brother of Samuel Kennedy Richards. Sarah Elizabeth (Watt) and Charles Richards produced Charles Russ Richards (1871-1941). Charles Russ Richard married Alida Russell Beardsley in 1890 in Lafayette, Indiana. They had two children Lenore Richards (1892-?) and Robert Watt Richards (1900-?) who had two daughters: Jeanne (1923-?) and Susan (1935-?). Prof. Richards graduated from Purdue University in 1890 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. While at Purdue he was a class leader and had as fellow students George Ade, the Aesop of Indiana, and Booth Tarkington, Pulitzer Prize winning author. In 1895 he graduated from Cornell with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. He became an instructor in mechanical engineering at Colorado State College at Fort Collins, CO in 1891where he designed the college foundry. In 1892 he moved on to University of Nebraska and designed the college shops and mechanical engineering hall and in 1898 he became professor mechanical engineering. Nebraska’s Mechanical Engineering Laboratory was designed and erected by Prof. Richards. From 1909 to 1911 he was dean of the College of Engineering. In 1911 he was called to University of Illinois and 1917 to 1922 he was dean of the College of Engineering and director of the Engineering Experiment Station as well as in charge of the original organization of the School of Military Aeronautics of University of Illinois. In 1920 he received the degree of Doctor of Engineering from the University of Nebraska. In the Fall of 1922, he came to Lehigh University as president. During his administration, the University’s enrollment doubled, endowment trebled, and the educational institution expanded greatly. He received honorary degrees from Lafayette College, Easton, Pa.; Purdue University; University of Pennsylvania and Lehigh University in 1936.


1 box, .5 linear feet

Language of Materials



Interesting display of genealogical research establishing Lehigh University President, Charles Russ Richards, related to noteworthy inventor and engineer, James Watt.


October 7, 1834 land deed for 18 acres in Clinton County, Indiana to April 17, 1941 death of President Richards.

The collection is arranged by format and chronology when possible.

Other Finding Aids

Charles Russ Richards. 1923. The Greater Lehigh, a study of the needs of Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa. LR514gc3 Lehigh Collection Vertical File. SC LVFR 514 Lehigh University Library Correspondence 1924-1935. SC MS 0009

Immediate Source of Acquisition

From the Estate of Mrs. Charles Russ Richards (Alida Russell Beardsley Richards) date unknown.

Existence and Location of Originals

Lehigh University, Linderman Library, Special Collections

Related Materials

American Society of Civil Engineers. 1941. Memoir 1172 Morse, Abner. 1861. Genealogical Register of the Descendants of Several Ancient Puritans. Volume III. Boston: H.W. Dutton & Son.

Separated Materials

If any material has been removed from the collection, for cataloging, or for other reason, mention it here, such as books, maps, photographs, posters, etc.

Genealogical Documents Related to Lehigh University President Charles Russ Richards
Ilhan Citak and Eleanor Nothelfer
September 6, 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)