The Old U(VA) and I: 1961-1965
By: Frank Briggs
About the Book
The decade of the 1960s saw sweeping changes at UVA as old barriers fell and students of new backgrounds came. Litigation that lasted from the late 1940s through the end of the 1960s eliminated historic barriers to African American and women students. No detailed UVA-specific narrative has existed until former graduates from two ends of the decade, Joel Gardner, BA 1970, Rebel Yell to Revolution, in 2018 and now Frank Briggs, BA 1965, recognized that the University had changed in the most profound ways and used their own experiences to document what happened. This book will attract anyone who lived through that heady period. It will appeal also to others, to women and men who grew up later, and who may have wondered why and how the good old days ended and America stepped beyond them. Some might say grew up.
—John T. Casteen III, President Emeritus, University of Virginia, 1990–2010
Frank Briggs’s memoir is a highly entertaining trip in time to an era in UVA history that predated the social upheavals of the late 1960s. We accompany the author through his four years in a cloistered culture of tradition that had not changed over many decades. In a series of revealing and amusing anecdotes, we relive the road trips, party weekends, and collegiate shenanigans that dominated the student experience during that period. This is a must read for every Wahoo who lived through that era or anyone who has an interest in the social history of college life prior to the cultural revolution that swept across the country after Briggs’s graduation.
—Joel B. Gardner, Author, From Rebel Yell to Revolution: My Four Years at UVA, 1966–1970
As an old Beta and in many other respects as one of the older observers of the University still more or less vertical, I salute Frank Briggs for his most successful undertaking. I have encouraged alumni to write memoirs of their student days, and Frank has done this splendidly.
—Alexander G. “Sandy” Gilliam, Professor and University Historian Emeritus, University of Virginia
About the Author
The author lays the foundation in his account of his own life as a student during the last years of the “Old U”—a period that came to a natural end. His telling is rich in details – in the names, dates, and places that will be familiar to anyone who was a student in those days, and he is strikingly candid. His stories of party weekends and road trips and life in the Beta house ring true because they are so convincingly his stories, even as they are also our own stories. His tales of coming of age, of the courses almost (and not quite) failed, friendships that endured, successes and failures that tied him to the place, and of the love affair that defines his entry into adult life come in powerfully honest forms. Frank tells what every reader who was there will remember about the Old U but tells without arguing the past was better than what came after. That’s a rare quality in a tale of growing up, and a good reason to read and follow Frank through the process.
Frank Briggs was born in New Jersey and raised in Rhode Island, Montreal, Virginia, Houston, and Pittsburgh. He graduated from Blair Academy in 1961 and the University of Virginia in 1965 with a BA in English. After graduation, he moved to Atlanta, became a financial planner, and never left. Frank’s wife and three children are all Virginia graduates. He has been involved in numerous professional, civic, and Christian organizations. As a couple, the Briggs were instrumental in the establishment of the Atlanta Youth Academy to provide an academically superior education to underserved children in a Christian environment. A former commodore of the Atlanta Yacht Club, the Briggs have been avid supporters of sailing since their marriage in 1966. They enjoy their lake cabin whenever possible, often with some of their ten grandchildren.
“Exceptionally well written, impressively organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "The Old U(VA) and I: 1961-1965" is both a timely and timeless account of a life lived out in an interesting place during an interesting era. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college and university library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Old U(VA) and I: 1961-1965" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).” (The Midwest Book Review)
Reviewed in the United States on May 16, 2021