Vandiver received recognition as a prominent young scholar when, at the age of twenty-four, his biography was included in Who’s Who in America. His early accolades included two Rockefeller Fellowships in 1946 and 1948 and a Fulbright Fellowship in 1951. His first book, Ploughshares into Swords: Josiah Gorgas and Confederate Ordnance, was published in 1952. Vandiver taught at Louisiana State University and Washington University before joining the history faculty at Rice University in 1955. He filled many positions at Rice University including chairman of the history and political science department, provost and vice president, and acting president from 1969 to 1970. From 1979 to 1981 Vandiver served as president of North Texas State University (now University of North Texas), and he was president of Texas A&M University from 1981 to 1988. After stepping down as president, he became founder and director of the Mosher Institute for International Policy Studies, a defense think tank at Texas A&M.
Vandiver was active in numerous organizations and served as president of the Southern Historical Association, the Texas Institute of Letters, the Philosophical Society of Texas, Association of American Colleges, White House Historical Society, and the American Council on Education. He taught at Oxford as the Harmsworth Professor of American History from 1963 to 1964. One of his main focuses was on the papers of Jefferson Davis for which he was chief advisory editor from 1963 until his death.
His many works include Mighty Stonewall (1957), Their Tattered Flags: The Epic of the Confederacy (1970), Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing (1977), Blood Brothers: A Short History of the Civil War (1992), Shadows of Vietnam: Lyndon Johnson's Wars (1997), 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the Civil War (2000), and 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About World War II (2002). He contributed to numerous other books about American military history.
Frank Vandiver married Susie Smith on April 19, 1952. They had three children. After her death in 1979, he married Renee Carmody in 1980. He died on January 7, 2005, in College Station, Texas. He was buried at Memorial Oaks Cemetery in Houston.
29° 46.856, -095° 36.898
Memorial Oaks Cemetery