Knox College Library

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Lombard College Manuscript Collection

Historical Notes: The Universalist Church established the Illinois Liberal Institute in Galesburg, Illinois in1853. A devastating fire in 1855 stalled the development of the new college. With a significant financial gift from Illinois farmer and businessman, Benjamin Lombard (1815-1883), the school recovered and became Lombard University. The official institution name was changed to Lombard College in 1899.

Women were admitted on an equal basis with men from the earliest days of the college. This open attitude reflected the Universalist philosophy and many Lombard women entered the service of the Universalist Church as ministers. So important was the college to the church that it became the seat of Ryder School of Divinity in the 1880s and remained so until 1913, when it was transferred to the Meadville Theological Seminary at the University of Chicago.

Not able to withstand the financial pressures of the Depression, Lombard was forced to close its doors. The last class graduated in 1930. Lombard did not merge, but many students finished their degrees at Knox College. Ever since, Knox has been the center of Lombard College alumni activities.

Significant alumni include:Class year 
E.H. Conger (1843-1907)1862congressman, diplomat, ambassador to China at the time of the Boxer Rebellion
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)1899-1902author, poet, Pulitzer Prize winner
Paul Jordan Smith (1895-1971)1908editor, educator, poet
Sewell Wright (1889-1988)1911geneticist
Quincy Wright (1890-1971)1912educator, poet, economist
Theodore Wright (1895-1970)1915engineer, first director of Civil Aeronautics Administration
Evar Swanson (1902-1973)1924professional athlete: baseball, football; Since 1929 remains the fastest player in baseball
Dorothy Tilden Spoerl (1906-2000)1927theologian, writer, educator
Notable faculty:
Phillip Green Wright (1861-1934)
David Starr Jordan (1851-1931)outstanding ichthyologist, President Indiana University; founding President of Stanford University

Scope Notes: The collection includes historical information and publications related to the founding, development and ultimate dissolution of Lombard College. Also included is information related to the academic atmosphere, the college campus and student activities. Some faculty and former students have files with personal data. Academic records are not part of this collection, but can be obtained from the Registrar of Knox College.

Collection range: 1854-1933; current relevant material added
Collection size: 30 linear feet
In addition: one oversize box, various items in safe, numerous publications shelved separately, and collections in remote storage.

Brief Inventory

Box 1History - charters and related documents
Box 2History - compiled histories
Box 3History - founding, early history & various topics
Box 4History - later history, dissolution, consolidation of the College
Box 5Lombard Bulletin and Alumnus and Lombard Letter
Box 6Lombard Bulletin (continued)
Box 7Campus & Buildings
Box 8Campus & Buildings - Lombard Memorial Rock
Box 9Presidents
Box 10Trustees
Box 11Faculty - General topics & individual files A - J
Box 12Faculty - individual files K - Z
Box 13Faculty - Philip Green Wright
Box 14Academic Departments
Box 15Student Affairs & Student Series Classes 1854-1866
Box 16Students - Classes 1867-1889
Box 17Students - Classes 1890-1896
Box 18Students - Classes 1897-1904
Box 19Students - Classes 1905-1912
Box 20Students - Classes 1913-1922
Box 21Students - Classes 1923-1925
Box 22Students - Class of 1925 - Roy A. Lamb
Box 23Students - Classes 1926
Box 24Students - Classes 1927
Box 25Students - Classes 1928-1929
Box 26Students - Classes 1930-1933
Box 27Student Publications & Student Organizations A- K
Box 28Student Organizations L-Z
Box 29Fraternities
Box 30Sororities
Box 31Miscellaneous Campus Events 1855 -1900
Box 32Miscellaneous Campus Events 1901 - 1924
Box 33Miscellaneous Campus Events 1925 - 1930
Box 34Commencement
Box 35Athletics
Box 36Alumni Affairs (for more on reunions see: Fifty Year Club)
Box 37Songs of Lombard


Box 38Scrapbooks1916-1918
Box 39Scrapbooks1917-1919
Box 40Scrapbooks1918-1921
Box 41Scrapbooks1920-1922
Box 42Scrapbooks1922-1923
Box 43Scrapbooks1924
Box 44Scrapbooks1923-1924
Box 45Scrapbooks1925
Box 46Scrapbooks1926
Box 47Scrapbooks1927-1928
Box 48Scrapbooks1929-1930

Publications shelved after Box 48

[see full inventory for complete listings of volumes & issues.]
Lombard College Catalogues
Lombard Review
Songs of Lombard
Lombard yearbooks (The Lombard, The Thud, The Cannibal, The Stroller)
Lombard Review - Alumnus