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Milwaukee-Downer College Records

Identifier: MDC-RG-003
This collection contains the administrative, financial, and historical records of Milwaukee-Downer College, primarily dating from 1895 to 1964. Records of its predecessor institutions, Downer College and Milwaukee College, dating back to 1848 are also included, as well as records documenting the activities of Milwaukee-Downer alumnae since the consolidation with Lawrence College in 1964. Materials include correspondence, financial records, and subject files of the Board of Trustees, Office of the President, Business Office, and other administrative units, as well as records documenting student activities and academic departments. Bulletins and catalogs, student yearbooks and newspapers, photographs, and scrapbooks are also included.


  • 1848-2008


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research, with exceptions for personnel and student records noted in the contents list.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights and copyright reside with Lawrence University. For uses beyond those allowed for fair use under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.), please contact the University Archivist.


93.51 Linear Feet (113 boxes and 287 volumes)

Biographical or Historical Information

Milwaukee-Downer College was formed in 1895 with the consolidation of two women's colleges, Milwaukee College and Downer College of Fox Lake, Wis. Milwaukee College had been founded in 1851 as the "Milwaukee Normal Institute and High School." Wisconsin Female College was founded in Fox Lake in 1855; its name was changed to Downer College in 1889 following a bequest by Judge Jason Downer. Ellen Sabin, who began as Downer College's president in1891, went on to serve as the president of Milwaukee-Downer College until 1921. She was succeeded by Lucia Briggs, who served as president until 1951. John B. Johnson was the third president of Milwaukee-Downer College, serving from 1951 to 1964. Milwaukee-Downer College consolidated with Lawrence College in 1964 to form Lawrence University. Its 43-acre campus was sold to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Arrangement Note

Materials are arranged in eleven series approximating the arrangement of the Milwaukee-Downer College Records owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Series 1: Office of the President, 1909-1964 Series 2: Board of Trustees, 1895-1964 Series 3: Business Office, 1890-1964 Series 4: Dean's Office, 1925-1964 Series 5: Registrar's Office, circa 1895-1964 Series 6: Faculty, 1896-1964 Series 7: Student Activities, 1891-1964 Series 8: Alumnae, 1871-2008 Series 9: Public Relations Office, 1938-1964 Series 10: History Files, 1848-2004 Series 11: Photographs, 1927-1964

Method of Acquisition

The bulk of these records were acquired by Lawrence University following the consolidation in 1964. Records in the Alumnae series have accumulated over time since that date.

Related Materials

Another set of Milwaukee-Downer College Records is held by the Wisconsin Historical Society. The finding aid for this collection is available online via the University of Wisconsin.

Processing Information

Portions of the collection preliminarily processed before 2014. Full processing and finding aid completed by Erin Dix, 2014.


Archon Finding Aid Title
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2016-12: Box numbers revised

Repository Details

Part of the Lawrence University Archives Repository

Seeley G. Mudd Library
113 South Lawe Street
Appleton WI 54911 US
(920) 832-6753