Knox College Opens Historical Exhibit

"New College, New Town," shows origin, early years of Knox and Galesburg

January 17, 2011

Knox College has opened a new historical exhibit, depicting the founding and early development of the College and the City of Galesburg. The exhibit, "A New College, A New Town," features eight panels that show early leaders of Galesburg and Knox College, and what the town and campus looked like in the mid-19th century. The college and community were established in 1837.

The exhibit is in the north entryway at Old Main -- a National Historic Landmark and the only original building that remains from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

Jeffrey Douglas, Tom Griffith"This is an appropriate introduction as we prepare for the much larger celebration of the 175th anniversary of the founding of Knox and Galesburg in 2012," said Jeffrey Douglas, Knox College library director, who coordinated the installation of the display.

Photos: top, Knox College Library Director Jeffrey Douglas, with Robin Metz, Post Professor of English, and Lead Carpenter Tom Griffith; right, Douglas and Griffith install the final panel prior to opening the exhibit.

The display notes that in the 1830s, the Reverend George Washington Gale and the other founders of the city and the college "looked to the rapidly developing Midwestern states as a new frontier on which to establish their ideals of work, study and worship."

The images in the display are drawn from a larger exhibit, funded by the Library of Congress and planned for installation in a proposed visitors' center in Alumni Hall on the Knox campus.

The exhibit was written by Ralph and Cathy Rhodes of RhodesWorks, Ltd., of Champaign, Illinois, based on research by Knox College faculty members Catherine Denial, assistant professor of history; Donna Jurich, former associate professor of education; Jon Wagner, professor of anthropology; Rodney Davis, Szold Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History and co-director of the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College; and Jeffrey Douglas, director of Seymour Library.

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 45 states and 48 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.