Charles Lindsley

Professor Charles Lindsley teaches a chemistry class. Courtesy of Western Regional Archive.Fig. 1

A Princeton graduate, Dr. Charles Lindsley held a position at the Cancer Research Institution under the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia but was unhappy with this career as it did not fulfill his primary interest—teaching.[1] Having been denied a teaching position after expressing his desire to work at Black Mountain College (BMC) in 1936, Lindsley again reached out to John Rice, rector at BMC, to express is continued desire to work there.[2] After meeting with John Evarts in New York to discuss BMC, Lindsley was more anxious than ever to join the college. In April of 1938 Lindsley was officially offered a position as Professor of Chemistry at BMC, which he eagerly accepted.[3]

In his time at BMC Lindsley taught number of classes on chemistry and physics, some of which both Roman Maciejczyk and Derek Bovingdon attended. Lindsley became Bovingdon’s advisor after Evarts and became exceptionally close to his advisee. It was with heavy heart that Lindsley heard the news of Bovingdon’s death. Together with Ted Dreier, Lindsley helped set up the Derek Bovingdon Memorial Fund in Bovingdon’s honor.[4] This fund would provide in-need students with low interest loans. In a leaflet that would be sent out to solicit donations, Lindsley fondly remembers Bovingdon:

“From the moment he arrived at Black Mountain College, Derek identified himself with it. He benefited greatly from his three years there, in part because he gave so generously of himself. He learned to value and to use well the freedom the College offers because he liked to accept the responsibility and obligations that properly accompany such freedom.”[5]

Charles Lindsley was offered a position in a Civilian Defense Research Project through a short-notice telegram. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives.Fig. 2

On October 13, 1941, Dr. Lindsley was offered a unique position with the government. To assist with war efforts, Lindsley was invited on very short notice (only a week) to work at the University of Virginia as part of a project for national defense; the work would allow Lindsley to work for the government on “a problem regarding analytical chemistry” as part of an “unusual opportunity for service to country.”[6] Lindsley accepted the position, saying “The greatest threat to civilization at the present lies not in the fact that institutions long cherished and of great value to us are being challenged, altered, uprooted, or destroyed. It lies rather in the fact that this freedom to search for the truth, without fear or favor, let or hindrance, is being challenged and openly denied, as a cardinal principle of policy, by a ruthless and relentless power intent upon extending its domination over the minds as well as the bodies of all me.”[7]

As with John Evarts, Lindsley also continued to support the college by donating any small amount of money that he could. Although Lindsley was under the impression that he was to return to the college after the war had ended, there was some confusion about Lindsley’s leave of absence. He never again returned to the college to teach.


[1] Charles Lindsley to John Rice, May 24, 1936, Black Mountain College Papers, Faculty Files, Box 4, Charles Lindsley Faculty File, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[2] Charles Lindsley to John Rice, January 2, 1938, Black Mountain College Papers, Faculty Files, Box 4, Charles Lindsley Faculty File, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[3] Theodore Dreier to Charles Lindsley, April 11, 1938,  Black Mountain College Papers, Faculty Files, Box 4, Charles Lindsley Faculty File, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[4] Charles Lindsley to Theodore Dreier, July 1943, Theodore and Barbara Dreier Collection, Box 52, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[5] Charles Lindsley to Theodore Dreier, Establishment of Derek Bovingdon Trust Fund, Theodore and Barbara Dreier Collection, Box 52, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[6] John H. Yoe, Government Telegram to Charles Lindsley, Charles Lindsley Faculty File, Black Mountain College Papers, Faculty Files, Box 4, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[7] BMC Newsletter, Vol. 2, No. 16, November 1941, Black Mountain College Papers, Box 26, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

Fig. 1 Charles Lindsley, Black Mountain College Faculty Photos, Box 4, Folder 60, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

Fig. 2 John H Yoe, Government Telegram to Charles Lindsley.

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