Barkley Forum for Debate Education records, 1957-2013.

Emory University

Emory University Archives

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322



Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/vpwcf

Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Emory University. Barkley Forum for Debate Education.
Title: Barkley Forum for Debate Education records, 1957-2013.
Call Number:Series No. 289
Extent: 6.625 linear feet (12 boxes) and AV Masters: .25 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:Records of the Barkley Forum including Emory forensics classes and workshops consists of photographs, annual reports, correspondence, curriculum, manuals, and internal communications. There is also documentation on the creation and funding of the Urban Debate League, Emory National Debate Institute, and other outreach programs created by Barkley Forum Director Melissa Maxcy Wade.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Some material has been restricted in accordance with Emory University Archives Policy for financial and student records. Due to privacy concerns, some documents or parts of documents have also been redacted.

Use copies have not been made for audiovisual material in this collection. Researchers must contact the Rose Library at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder the Rose Library's ability to provide access to audiovisual material.

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.




[after identification of item(s)], Barkley Forum for Debate Education records, Emory University Archives, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Arranged and described at the file level by Jamica Zion, 2018, and Laura Starratt, March 2022.

Collection Description

Administrative History

Shortly after Emory University was founded in 1837, the Phi Gamma Literary Society and Ignatius Few Literary Society held weekly public debates modeled after British Universities. In 1914, the Theology and Speech professor, Nolan A. Goodyear, started an intercollegiate debate team. After World War II caused a dissolution of the team, it was revived by an assistant professor, George A. Neely. Vice President (and Emory Alum) Alben W. Barkley allowed his name to be used in 1950, and a year later, the Barkley Forum hosted its first high school debate tournament as part of a growing interest in community service.

Glenn Pelham took the role as coach of the debate team in 1961 after his Cairo High School team won the 1959 Barkley Forum for High Schools and led the Barkley Forum as they became one of the most successful debating organizations in the country with over twenty national championship wins since 1967. The Barkley Forum also continued to host events including the Georgia Speaker of the Year and the Peachtree Debates.

In 1972, Glenn Pelham retired, and Melissa Maxcy Wade took the role of coach, expanding her role into Executive Director of Forensics and expanding the organization's community service programming. In addition to the Barkley Forum for High Schools (which was later named the Barkly Forum Summer Forensics Institute) and the Emory National Debate Institute, Wade developed the Urban Debate League (with support from the Open Society Institute) and the National Debate Program. In 1987, the Glenn Pelham Memorial Fund (later the Glenn Pelham Foundation) was created to manage the financial responsibilities of the Forum and its programs. Wade stepped down in 2015 but continued as a board member of the Glenn Pelham Foundation.

Ed Lee III – a former participant in the Atlanta Urban Debate League – took on the leadership of the Barkley Forum. Lee continued the competitive success of the team and engaged more student involvement on campus. In 2017, the name of the organization changed to The Barkley Forum for Debate, Deliberation, and Dialogue

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of administrative records of the Barkley Forum, correspondence, information on the programs hosted by the organization as well as the records of the Glenn Pelham Memorial Fund that managed the funding for programs, especially the grants from Open Society Institute for expanding the Urban Debate League of which there were multiple concurrent grants documented in this collection including those for setting up UDLs in Baltimore, New York, General Budget Support, Specific Budget Support, and an overlapping of the Baltimore and New York pilot programs. There are a small number of photographs, scrapbooks, and subject files on topics like memorial scholarships and awards and correspondence collected at the time of Glenn Pelham's death. There are writings and speeches by Glenn Pelham and Melissa Maxcy Wade as well as other authors about the Barkley Forum, reports about academic debate and specifically the programs monitored by the Barkley Forum, and about debate in general.

Arrangement Note

Organized into 2 series: (1) General Records and (2) Restricted Files

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