Scope and Contents note
Title: Rixford Kinney Snyder notebook and class papers
Identifier/Call Number: SCM0242
Dept. of Special Collections & University Archives
Language of Material:
Snyder, Rixford K., (Rixford Kinney), 1908-
Scope and Contents note
Notebook and two exams from a class on the history of Canada, 1935.
Rixford Snyder, Professor
Program, received three degrees from Stanford: A.B. in economics 1930, A.M. (1934) and Ph.D. (1940) in history.
Snyder was born and raised in the Willow Glen area of San Jose and attended local schools. He became the first in his family
to attend college when he enrolled at Stanford University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1930, master's in 1934
and Ph.D. in 1940. From 1935 to 1937 he was a Royall Victor fellow in history. He was an instructor from 1937 until 1943,
specializing in the history of the British Empire. In 1943 he joined the Navy to become an instructor in Naval pre‐flight
After the war, he returned to Stanford as an Associate Professor of History. Readings in Western Civilization, co‐authored
with fellow history Professor George H. Knoles, "was required reading at the time," said longtime friend and Alumni Association
colleague Darien Dufour Walker, A.B. ‘60. "It had everything in it from Plato to more modern writings."
In 1950, Snyder was appointed Director of Admissions, by President J.E. Wallace Sterling, beginning a nineteen‐year tenure
as director and eventually dean, when the university elevated the post. Personal accounts of Snyder’s legacy in admissions
highlight expanding the geographic recruiting reach of the office and offering opportunities to first generation college students.
“Following Sterling’s charge, Snyder made the entire nation Stanford’s recruiting ground. Under his leadership, we visited
secondary schools in regions relatively untapped, such as much of the Midwest and Southwest,” wrote Brooks.
Bob Freelen, AB ’57, MBA ’59, recalls his first days as a freshman at Stanford when Snyder personally made sure he felt comfortable
as a first generation college student far away from his home in Vermont. Cycling through campus in his trademark hat. Snyder
maintained a personal connection with many of the over 30,000 undergraduates he brought to Stanford. John Arrillaga A.B. ’60,
remembers Snyder looking him in the eye, shaking his hand and confirming his admission, a decision that changed Arrillaga’s
future, who said “Rixford’s ability to determine a person’s character and ability to succeed is something that continues to
benefit Stanford to this day.” Longtime colleague and personal friend Douglas R. Walker AB ’57, AM ’63, whom Snyder admitted,
recalls that “Rix didn’t
have a mean bone in his body except when dealing with Cal.” A passionate Stanford athletics fan, Snyder was instrumental in
working with the athletic department and recruiting the best scholar‐athletes to Stanford, including admitting the players
on two Stanford Rose Bowl teams.
In 1969, Snyder started what is now the Travel/ Study program. “He felt strongly that there should be a way for alumni to
connect back to the university,” said Kay Williams, who worked with Snyder in the Travel/Study office in the 1980s. “He was
a giant in his field and a giant in alumni relations. He knew alumni were as integral to the university as the faculty and
students.” He got the idea to arrange Danube boat trips for Stanford graduates while he and his wife, Elliott, were visiting
the family of one of his former students in Austria.
Snyder formally retired in 1974 but kept a workspace in the Travel/Study office where he compiled his memoirs. He continued
to go on alumni trips well into his 70s. A major supporter of Stanford sports, Snyder has a scholarship in his name that is
run by the Athletics Department. He served as president of the local Rotary Club, and in his later years became increasingly
involved in Palo Alto’s senior community.
“All of his life, he loved learning,” Walker said. “He loved anything new. It was an adventure for him. He had a childlike
enthusiasm for what was going on. New food, new areas, new people to know—it was all a real joy for him. To the day he died,
he enjoyed new things.”
Elliott Snyder, to whom he was married for 64 years, died four years before her husband at 94. The couple did not have children,
and are survived by two nieces.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Stanford Alumni Association
Stanford University. Dept. of History.
Stanford University. -- General subdivision--Students.;