Griswold College

The Relationship Between Grinnell and Griswold Colleges

Friday, Aug. 10, 2012 2:59 pm

We recently received an interesting question regarding the relationship between Griswold College, in Davenport, IA, and Grinnell College, and whether Grinnell had ever been called Griswold. We had never heard of such a direct relationship between the two institutions, which made it an intriguing question and a fun, albeit brief, research project.   As some of you may know, Grinnell College began its existence as Iowa College and was founded in Davenport in 1846 by a group of missionaries from Massachusetts who called themselves the Iowa Band. As the town and college grew, the town began to encroach more and more upon the college campus. Finally, in 1859, the school had enough of the town laying streets through its campus and moved to Grinnell at the invitation of J.B. Grinnell. President Magoun, in his inaugural speech given on July 19, 1865, stated that the property vacated by Iowa College in Davenport "was sold to Bishop H.W. Lee and others for an Episcopal College ..." The Davenport Public Library's special collections blog goes on to describe how the property was sold for $36,000 and that "it was decided to name the new college after the late Bishop Alexander Viets Griswold. The preparatory department of Griswold College opened on December 12, 1859, to thirty students under the care of Rev. Francis Emerson Judd and Professor David. S. Sheldon. College-level curriculum development followed as well as a degree program. The first commencement exercises of Griswold College took place on June 23, 1867." For more information about our beloved school and its history, please visit the Iowa Room, where you can find copies of the college's charter, Magoun's inaugural speech, and many other intriguing primary sources.