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Ellen C. Sabin Papers

Identifier: MDC-MS-001
This collection consists of a selection of papers from Ellen C. Sabin, president of Downer College from 1890 to 1895 and Milwaukee-Downer College from 1895 to 1921. Materials primarily include articles about Sabin, photographs, and correspondence to and from friends and acquaintances.


  • 1884-1994


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.


0.60 Linear Feet

Biographical or Historical Information

From the Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography, Wisconsin Historical Society: "Sabin, Ellen Clara, 1850-1949. Teacher, educator, college president, b. Sun Prairie. She attended the Univ. of Wisconsin (1865-1868) and for a time taught in the district schools, where her original methods of teaching geography led to her selection as principal of the 4th Ward (Doty) school in Madison. In 1872 she moved with her parents to Eugene, Ore., where for a time she conducted a private school. Her success as a teacher brought her to Portland, Ore., first as a teacher, then as principal, and in 1887 she became superintendent of schools for Portland, the first woman to hold such a position in a large city. Returning to Wisconsin in 1890, she reorganized Downer College at Fox Lake, and in 1895, when Downer was moved to Milwaukee and merged with Milwaukee Female College, she became first president of Milwaukee-Downer College, serving in this capacity until her retirement in 1921. During her tenure as president, Miss Sabin established the first course in occupational therapy to be offered in any college. She was also instrumental in organizing the Wisconsin Federation of Women's Clubs (1896), and was active in the A.A.U.W., which created the Ellen C. Sabin Fellowship in her honor. Following her retirement as president of Milwaukee- Downer, she spent her last years in Madison."

Arrangement Note

Materials are arranged alphabetically by subject or format.

Method of Acquisition

Materials appear to have been donated from several sources, but the sources, dates, and methods of acquisition are unknown.

Related Materials

A more comprehensive collection of Ellen C. Sabin's papers is part of the Milwaukee-Downer College Records owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society and housed at the UW-Milwaukee Archives/Milwaukee Area Research Center.

Processing Information

Preliminarily processed prior to 2005. Final processing and finding aid completed by Erin Dix, 2013.
Archon Finding Aid Title
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2014: Revised to incorporate certificate from the Columbian Exposition Board of Lady Managers

Repository Details

Part of the Lawrence University Archives Repository

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