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Aaron L. Chapin papers

Identifier: MC 001


This collection contains mostly correspondence (1852-1885) both personal and college business, much having to do with financial issues, college events, teaching positions, local area issues, students, land and property; also sermons, diaries, speeches, biographical data, administrative files, photographs. There is also a small collection of Chapin family letters dating from 1837-1841.


  • 1837-1886

Biographical / Historical

Excerpted from "Seven Presidents of Beloit College" by Dr. Robert Irrmann:

A Puritan son of New England, a graduate of Yale's distinguished Class of 1837, Aaron Lucius Chapin was a teacher in the New York Institution for the Deaf and Dumb from 1838 to 1843. In that latter year he committed himself to service in the West, and came to Milwaukee as Minister to the Presbyterian Church there. One of the original Trustees of Beloit College, his colleagues wisely chose him as the first President, a post he occupied from 1850 to 1886. Mr. Chapin had a vision of collegiate education on the then frontier, and he led in molding Beloit College to be a distinguished institution, initially upon the model of Yale College. For thirty-six years his leadership, and his national reputation, led the college from infancy to a flourishing manhood. Chapin was a scholar, endowed with practical wisdom, and his faculty gratefully followed his lead. At his inaugural he declared that he had "... nothing here to pledge or to promise but the devotion of an honest purpose... to give my undivided energies to the building up of this college...." This he did, and death alone removed him from his service on the Board of Trustees in 1892. At his Memorial Service, the venerable William Porter, Chapin's brother-in-law and life-long member of the faculty, remarked that Chapin's "... work was largely out of sight, laying foundations for a growth that was yet to come. But so clear was his vision of the future of the College... that he could do his work with the most careful fidelity and thoroughness, with an energy that never rested, and a patience that never grew weary, and then wait for what he might never live to see."


18 Linear Feet (35 boxes, 2 photo albums, loose papers, 4 bound volumes)

Language of Materials


Aaron L. Chapin papers
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Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Beloit College Archives and Special Collections, Beloit, WI Repository

700 College St.
Beloit WI 53511 USA