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Richard L. Irby Personal Papers

Identifier: MS-0509

The papers consist of correspondence and memoranda, military orders, printed material, photographs, scrapbooks, speeches, and other material primarily documenting the U.S. Army career (1939-1971) of Major General Richard L. Irby. The collection includes information about the activities of of the 1st Cavalry Division during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.


  • 1939 - 1971


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Manuscript collections in the VMI Archives are made available for educational and research use. The VMI Archives should be cited as the source. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright holders. Materials from our collections may not be redistributed, published or reproduced without permission from the VMI Archives. Contact the VMI Archives for additional information.


10 cubic feet (8 boxes, plus unboxed framed items and albums/scrapbooks)

8 boxes

Biographical / Historical

MAJ GEN Richard L. Irby (1918-2002) had a distinguished career in the United States Army and subsequently served as the Virginia Military Institute's tenth Superintendent. A native of Blackstone, Virginia, he graduated from VMI in 1939 with a degree in Civil Engineering. Irby commissioned in the cavalry branch of the U. S. Army, beginning thirty-one years of military service during which he rose to the rank of Major General. He was a decorated veteran of three wars and twice the recipient of the Silver Star for gallantry in combat.

Irby served in the China-Burma Theater during and immediately following World War II. In 1951 he was a battalion commander with the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea, where he won his first Silver Star. During the Vietnam War he served as assistant division commander and commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, and earned his second Silver Star. Following service in Vietnam he was commander of the U. S. Army Training Center, Infantry, at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and in 1970 he was named commanding general at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He retired from active duty in 1971.

Following the completion of his military career, Irby served as Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute from 1971-1981. During his tenure VMI experienced a steady increase in applications and enrollment, and embarked on a successful major capital campaign. He retired from VMI in 1981, continuing to live in Lexington, VA until his death on March 6, 2002.

Physical Location

Manuscripts Stacks

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the estate of Richard Irby.

Related Materials

This collection is distinct from official VMI records that document Irby's tenure as Superintendent.

Processing Information

This collection is open to research, but has been minimally processed. There is no detailed item/folder inventory. Contact the VMI Archives for assistance with a specific request relating to this collection.
Richard L. Irby Personal Papers
VMI Archives
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450