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Knox College Library
Special Collections and Archives
371 S. West Street
Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
In the 1830s George Washington Gale, a Presbyterian minister from upstate New York, inspired a band of colonists to set out for the prairies of Illinois to establish an educational institution that would be known as Knox Manual Labor College.
The college, which was chartered by the Illinois legislature on February 15, 1837, has always been a private, independent college. Knox was among the first institutions open to people of color and women. The first commencement was June 1846, and in 1857 the name was altered to Knox College.
The plan to bring the college to the prairie was deliberate and well-thought out. In New York, George Washington Gale sought settlers of a like mind and moral purpose. He began publicizing his project in 1834 with a "Circular and Plan" which set out the intention to procure land with the money from subscribers, purchase a large tract of land in the West, and then sell land back to the subscribers. In return, the subscribers would receive free tuition at the college institutions for one student for twenty-five years.
"Copy of an Act to Incorporate the Knox Manual Labor College" (The Knox College charter)
A review of the commerce, manufactures, and the public & private improvements of Galesburg: containing a brief history of Knox college and sketches of the first settlement of the town. Compiled and written by C.J. Sellon, Galesburg: J. Sherman, 1857.
Pioneer Honor Roll -- a listing of founders of Knox College and first settlers of Galesburg