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Brooks Quimby Debate Council

Identifier: CA12.04

Scope and Content Note

Materials in this collection document the activity of the Brooks Quimby Debate Council, from debate's beginnings at Bates in 1865, through 2008. The collection includes administrative files and records, debate programs, transcripts and scoresheets, correspondence, newspaper articles and clippings, posters, handbooks and manuals, historical and biographical information, and material relating to publicity and preparation for specific debates. More detail about the collection can also be found in the individual series notes. The collection also contains records documenting the debating honor society Delta Sigma Rho, the Maine Interscholastic Debate League, and Bates' numerous international debates over the years.


  • 1864 - 2008


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Historical Note

Soon after Bates College was founded in 1855, the arts of public speaking, literary composition and formal debate were practiced in several extracurricular literary societies, established by students for their own educational benefit. Professor of Latin and Greek Jonathan Y. "Uncle Johnny" Stanton served as an advisor and advocate of these societies, and was also instrumental in establishing the annual sophomore prize debates.

Intercollegiate debate at Bates arose from these literary societies, officially beginning in 1896 when Bates, coached by Professor William T. Foster, won the championship of the newly-formed New England Debating League. Within the next decade, Bates College was widely known as "the power centre of college debating in America," with a remarkable record of victories that included the first ever international intercollegiate debate in 1908 against Queen's College in Ontario.

In 1913, A. Craig Baird was hired as professor of English and director of debate, leading Bates debaters to unprecedented success and publicity. Under Baird's direction, international debate took full root at Bates with the first transatlantic contest held in 1921 between Bates College and Oxford University. Baird organized the Interscholastic Debating League for Maine high schools, which served as a valuable feeder program for Bates, and established a chapter of Delta Sigma Rho, a national society dedicated to excellence in forensics, at Bates.

As early as 1877, female students were successfully participating in the sophomore prize debates, in addition to Bates' literary society debates. In 1903, a group of female debaters formed the Young Women's Debating League at Bates, but they were unable to join their male peers in intercollegiate debate until 1924, when three women from Bates competed against a female team from Boston University. Co-educational intercollegiate debate began in the following year, and women have continued to play a significant role in the accomplishments of the Bates Debate Council.

In 1925, just after Baird left Bates for a position at the University of Iowa, John P. Davis '26, the talented African-American president of the Debate Council, protested Delta Sigma Rho's racially exclusionary policies. A similar protest had been made in 1917, shortly after the Bates chapter was established, when Arthur Dyer '17, also an African-American student, was serving as the council's president. A series of petitions from the Bates chapter sparked a fierce controversy that lasted until 1935, when Delta Sigma Rho amended its constitutions. Bates debater Benjamin E. Mays '20 was the first African-American granted membership into the society.

In 1927, Brooks Quimby '18, an alumnus of both the Interscholastic League and the debate program at Bates, succeeded Baird as the director of debate. Until his retirement in 1967, he led Bates debaters to continued successes in both intercollegiate and international competition. Thomas Moser then directed Bates debate until 1974, when Robert J. Branham took over. Now coached by Bryan Brito, the Bates College debaters continue to uphold their longstanding tradition of excellence in competition.


26.58 Linear Feet (31 manuscript boxes; 7 flat boxes; 1 oversized folder)

Language of Materials



This collection documents the activities of the Brooks Quimby Debate Council at Bates College, including records that predate the official formation of the Council. The records include administrative files, debate programs and transcripts, correspondence, newspaper articles and clippings, posters, handbooks, and manuals. The collection also contains records documenting the debating honor society Delta Sigma Rho, the Maine Interscholastic Debate League, and Bates' numerous international debates over the years.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is divided into eight series: I. Administrative Materials; II. Coaches; III. Delta Sigma Rho; IV; International Debate; V. Interscholastic Debate League; VI. Debates; VII. Scrapbooks; and VIII. Posters. Within each series, there are multiple subseries arranged alphabetically. Folders within these subseries are arranged either alphabetically by title or chronologically.

Guide to the Brooks Quimby Debate Council, 1865-2008
Edited Full Draft
Becky Wason
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in: English
Edition statement

Repository Details

Part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library Repository

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Lewiston Maine 04240 United States of America
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