Guide to the Robert A. Betts Papers, RG 027

Listed by: Dieter C. Ullrich
Date: June 2003

Date Span:

4.0 cubic feet

Number of Boxes:
3 RC boxes + 1 oversized scrapbook

Historical or Biographical Sketch:
Robert Andrew Betts, born on May 14, 1903, in Lee County, Alabama, was the oldest of four children born to Lee County Sheriff William Andrew Betts and his wife Essie Mae Wallace Betts. Robert Betts was educated in Lee County schools and graduated from Opelika High School in 1921. He studied electrical engineering at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, (now Auburn University) and graduated in 1925 with highest honors. Betts worked for one year with the Westinghouse Corporation but returned to Alabama in 1926 to join the faculty of his alma mater. He held the rank of assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering department until called for military service in 1942. Until the end of the war in 1945, Betts served with the 94th Infantry Division in Europe.

After the war, Betts made the decision not to return to teaching, since higher educational standards for faculty had been adopted which would require him to attend graduate school. During the next several years Betts was employed by the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and campaigned twice, unsuccessfully, for the office of Lee County Probate Judge. Betts was an original member of the City of Opelika Water Board, serving the city in that capacity from 1948 until 1977. In recognition of his long tenure, the City of Opelika named its water filtration plant in his honor.

In the 1950's, Betts purchased a general merchandise store and restaurant north of Opelika. The restaurant which adjoined the Betts Store was named the Chicken House and was known for fried chicken and barbecue.

Betts was an active member of the Opelika Kiwanis Club for over sixty years and maintained perfect attendance for forty-nine years. He received the prestigious I-Exon award from the Kiwanis Club on the occasion of the club's 75th anniversary in 1995. Robert Andrew Betts died in Opelika on April 26, 1995.

Scope and Content:
This collection documents the career and interests of Robert Andrew Betts, professor of electrical engineering at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, 1926 to 1942. An avid student of Opelika and area history, Betts collected information about the early days of Lee County and its predecessors. The scrapbooks, which are the largest part of the Betts papers, reflect this interest. Items related to Betts career at API are limited. His E.E.notes, Aminiaturized for lecture are of special interest. Other API materials are apparently from his student years.

Betts served on the Opelika Water Board for twenty-eight years. Records from this affiliation include: annual budgets, audit reports, a bond specimen, a radio script, statistical data, information concerning the development of Spring Villa as a recreational area, a small amount of correspondence, and a copy of water board rates, rules, and regulations for 1977.The Betts papers contain documents of the Opelika Kiwanis Club (programs and news clippings), collected by Betts during his sixty years as a member of the club.

A small group of records created by Mrs. Katherine Betts, while an officer in the Order of the Eastern Star and the Auburn Pilot Club are also included. The Pilot Club records have been separated from this collection and placed in the Auburn Pilot Club records, RG 800. Approximately one cubic foot of artifacts from a part of this collection. There are items related to API, Kiwanis Club, and Masonic orders, but the majority are military relics from Betts's service in World War II.

Item list:
Box 1

Box 2

Box 3

Oversize item:

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