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Early Presidents Collection

Identifier: LU-RG03-002
This collection is composed of records documenting the first seven presidents of Lawrence University: William Sampson (1849-1853), Edward Cooke (1853-1859), Russell Mason (1859-1865), George Steele (1865-1879), Elias Huntley (1879-1883), Bradford Raymond (1883-1889), and Charles Gallagher (1889-1893). Materials consist primarily of articles, correspondence, and photographs.


  • 1846-1995


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Lawrence University does not hold the copyright for all materials in this collection. Uses beyond those allowed for fair use under U. S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) require the researcher to secure permission from the copyright holder.


0.40 Linear Feet

Biographical or Historical Information

William Harkness Sampson (1808-1902) was Principal and the primary financial agent of Lawrence University from the beginning of classes in 1849 until1853, during the time that the institution operated only as a preparatory school. He came to the Wisconsin Territory in 1842, where he worked as a Methodist minister. He was named Presiding Elder of the Green Bay Mission District in 1844. While serving in this position, he was approached by Amos Lawrence’s agents and became involved in the founding of Lawrence Institute. Following his resignation as principal and agent in 1853, he was a faculty member for several years longer and also served on the Board of Trustees until 1884. Edward Cooke (1812-1888) served as the first President of Lawrence University from 1853 to 1859. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1838 and worked as a professor and pastor in New England before coming to Wisconsin. As President, he presided over the establishment of the collegiate department as well as the building of Main Hall in 1853-1854. After leaving Lawrence, he went on to serve as the head of three other institutions: Wilbraham Academy, Claflin University, and the South Carolina Agricultural College. Russell Zelotes Mason (1819-1907) served as President from 1859 to 1865. He was a Wesleyan University graduate and professor of mathematics and science before he was appointed President. He presided over the university during the years of the Civil War. After resigning as President, he became involved in a variety of business pursuits, while serving on the Board of Trustees until 1880. George McKendree Steele (1823-1902) served as Lawrence president from 1865-1879. During those years, he was highly praised as a teacher by students and alumni. The later years of his presidency were colored by severe financial problems for the institution. After leaving Lawrence, he served as Principal of Wilbraham Academy for thirteen years and then as Assistant Principal at Lasell Academy for three years. Elias DeWitt Huntley (1840-1909) was president from 1879-1883. He had served as presiding elder of the Madison district of the Wisconsin Conference prior to coming to Lawrence. He succeeded in improving the college’s financial situation, but he was generally disliked by the students as a strict disciplinarian. After leaving Lawrence, Huntley continued working as a pastor. His ministry included a stint as Chaplain of the U.S. Senate from 1883 to 1886. Bradford Paul Raymond (1846-1916) graduated from Lawrence in 1871 and served as President from 1883 to 1889. After leaving Lawrence, he served as president of Wesleyan University for nineteen years. Charles Wesley Gallagher (1846-1916) was President from 1889 to 1893. He graduated from Wesleyan University and served as a minister in Rhode Island before coming to Lawrence. After leaving Lawrence, he held a number of other positions in Methodist institutions on the east coast. For more information, see: W.F. Raney, The History of Lawrence University, 1847-1925

Arrangement Note

Materials are arranged chronologically by the years of each individuals’ presidency.

Method of Acquisition

Files were removed from the vertical file collection and turned into an artificial collection prior to 2011.

Processing Information

Preliminary processing completed prior to 2011, date and processor unknown. Final processing and finding aid completed by Erin Dix, 2011.
Archon Finding Aid Title
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Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Lawrence University Archives Repository

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