Our History

 

As the Civil War ends, George Fredric Magoun is inaugurated as president of the College. He serves until 1884.

Joanna Harris Haines is the first to earn a certificate from the Ladies’ Course and later teaches at the College. Rev. E.M. Vittum explains that the women receive diplomas, but not bachelor’s degrees, at graduation because College officials feel “a little delicacy in declaring that the young ladies [are] bachelors of arts.”

Hannibal Kershaw becomes the first African American to graduate from Grinnell. He later is a teacher, minister, and member of the South Carolina legislature. According to the Iowa College News Letter, Kershaw is “an earnest, conscientious student, a fluent society speaker, and a man whom all respected for his high moral and religious character...

 

Ten days before Commencement, a massive “cyclone” (a tornado) touches down in Grinnell, killing 39 people (including two students) and destroying all of the College's buildings. The College yearbook is later named for this event.

George Augustus Gates, 38-year-old pastor from New Jersey, is chosen by the trustees to lead the College. During Gates’ administration, Grinnell becomes a pioneering advocate of the Social Gospel movement.

 

Mears Cottage, the first women’s dormitory on campus, is built and named for Mary Grinnell Mears, an 1881 graduate, wife of David O. Mears, and daughter of the town’s founder, J.B. Grinnell.

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