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Knox College History

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Knox College Library

Special Collections and Archives

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Galesburg, IL 61401-4999

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Historical books in Seymour Library.

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.

Old Main

Old Main

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.

George Washington Gale

George Washington GaleIn the 1830's George Washington Gale (1789-1861), a Presbyterian minister from upstate New York, conceived of a plan to bring a "thorough system of mental, moral and physical education" to the frontier. Gale 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 to women. The first commencement was in June 1846. 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 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.

Links to Important Documents on the Founding of the College

The "Circular and Plan"

"Copy of an Act to Incorporate the Knox Manual Labor College" (The Knox College charter)

 Official Program: Galesburg-Knox College Centenary, 1937 (pdf)

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

More History of the College

 Knox College and Lincoln

Knox College alumni and faculty in the Civil War

Knox College alumni in the 77th Illinois Infantry (Civil War)

Before Seymour: A Brief History of the Early Libraries of Knox College

 The History of Seymour Library

 The Music Conservatory at Knox College, 1883-1936

For More Information

Herman R. MuelderHermann R. Muelder was a distinguished historian and recognized authority on the Midwest. He graduated from Knox College in 1927 and from the University of Wisconsin with a Ph.D. in 1933. Muelder taught history at Knox College from 1934 until 1974. From 1956 - 1967 he also served as Dean of the College and acting president from 1973 to 1974. He retired from teaching in 1974 and was named college historian and honorary trustee. He remained all his life an affectionate student of Knox College history and advocate for the college.

 

His works include:

Fighters for Freedom: A History of Anti-Slavery Activities of Men and Women Associated with Knox College. Columbia University Press, New York, 1959.

Missionaries and Muckrakers: The First Hundred Years of Knox College. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1986.

A Hero Home from the War: Among Black Citizens of Galesburg, Illinois 1860-1880. Knox College Library, Galesburg, IL, 1987.

Church History in a Puritan Colony of the Middle West. Central Congregational Church, First Presbyterian Church, Galesburg, IL, 1937.

Knox College

https://www.knox.edu/library/special-collections-and-archives/college-archives/knox-college-history

Printed on Sunday, October 22, 2017

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