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The Lars Paul Esbjörn and Esbjörn family papers

Identifier: MSS 1

Scope and Contents

The Lars Paul Esbjorn and Esbjörn family papers, 1778-1982 and undated, contains notebooks, personal writings, letters, and professional writings that pertain to Lars Paul Esbjörn’s life and career as Augustana’s first president. Also included are letters from Esbjörn’s wives and children. This collection has been arranged into seven series.

Series I: Biographical and Background Material (1882-1960 and undated) includes a collection of articles and excerpts pertaining to L.P. Esbjörn’s life and work as a minister. Background materials include clippings and maps of L.P. Esbjörn’s home in Sweden.

Series II: Documents, Letters, and Financial Records (1778-1925 and undated) contains official documents (originals and copies), including L.P. Esbjörn’s grades and official school documents, documents from L.P. Esbjörn’s time as a minister and professor, and personal family records, including material related to Esbjörn's wives. This series is arranged into four subseries.

Series III: Writings-Personal series (1825-1869, 1982 and undated) contains L.P. Esbjörn’s autobiographical accounts of his years at school in Sweden, dairies and excerpts from his immigration to America and his trip east, as well as notes and thoughts on mathematical and scientific readings. This series is arranged into four Subseries.

Series IV: Professional Writings and Papers (1828-1870 and undated) contains articles and notes on biblical passages, accounts and advice to immigrants, records of Augustana Theological Seminary, letters to other academic and ministry professionals, and a collection of L.P. Esbjörn’s sermons. This series is organized into three Subseries.

Series V: Newsclippings and Printed Matter (1849-1911 and undated) contains printed material collected by L.P. Esbjörn related to his research and interests as well as information about personal and professional contacts. Information included is in both Swedish and English.

Series VI: Compilations (1848-1948 and undated) contains information about L.P. Esbjörn compiled by peers and other parties including Constantin Magnus Esbjörn, Sam Ronnegord, Ira O. Nothstein, S.W. Harkey, and O.N. Olsson. This series is organized into three Subseries.

Series VII: Library Books (1826-1860) contains a small collection of books from the personal library of L.P. Esbjörn including a bible in Swedish and a Handbook of Comparative Religions in Swedish.


  • Creation: 1778-1982 and undated


Language of Materials

Swedish, English and Greek

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from Augustana College Special Collections and the copyright holder.

Historical Note

Born in 1808 in Delsbo in the province of Hälsingland in central Sweden, Lars Paul Esbjorn studied at Uppsala University and was ordained in the Church of Sweden in 1832. In 1849, Esbjörn immigrated to western Illinois where he established a church in the small town of Andover, 20 miles southeast of Rock Island. In 1859, Esbjörn moved to Chicago where he and other Scandinavian church leaders formed their own synod.

In June 1860 in Jefferson Prairie, Wisconsin, Esbjörn and his colleagues formed the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod, which immediately founded its own school, Augustana Seminary. The purpose of the seminary was to prepare men for the ministry in the Lutheran Church and to teach in congregational schools. Esbjörn was asked to serve as the school’s president. On 1 September 1860, in Chicago, the college opened its doors to 21 students.

As president of Augustana College, Esbjörn acted as administrator, professor, and parent. In 1863, discouraged by the Synod's decision to move Augustana to rural Paxton, Illinois, Esbjörn resigned his position and returned to Sweden until his death in 1870. Esbjörn had three wives, Amelia Lovisa Planting Gyllenbaga (1810-1852), Helena Catherina Magnusson (1827-1853), and Gustava Albertina Magnusson (1833-1925). He also had twelve children, Paul Wilhelm (1837-1861), Alfred Johannen (1839-1922), Maria (1841-1861), Joseph (1843-?), twins David L. and Emmanuel (born and died 1849), Amelia Lovisa (July 1852- October 1852), Constantine Magnus (1858-1911), Gustaf Adolf Luther (1860-1880s), Carl Linus Eugene (1862-1939), Maria Redviva (1864-?), Hanna Dorthea (1866-?), and Lars Paul Oscar (1870-1908).


6.54 Cubic Feet (/ 22 boxes)


The Lars Paul Esbjörn and Esbjörn family papers primarily documents the personal and professional life of the first president of Augustana College, Lars Paul Esbjörn. Esbjörn was born in Sweden in 1808 and immigrated to America in 1849. In 1860, he became the first president of Augustana College, and remained in this position until 1863, when the college was moved to Paxton, Illinois. That same year, Esbjörn returned to Sweden where he lived until his death in 1870. His papers include biographical and autobiographical accounts, birth and marriage affidavits, legal and financial documents, immigration papers, diaries, notebooks, personal and professional correspondence, sermons, newspaper and newsletter articles, and some of Esbjörn’s personal books. Materials are in Swedish, English, and Greek. Additional papers in the collection concern Esbjörn’s three wives and seven of his children. These documents include personal and family correspondence, legal and financial documents, estate records, photographs, and scrapbooks.


Materials arranged chronologically within series.

Other Finding Aids

An older finding aid for this collection is available at

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Immediate source of acquisition unknown.

Related Materials

MSS 13 Constantin Magnus Esbjörn papers MSS 14 Carl Linus Esbjörn papers

Processing Information

Processed by Elena Leith, August 2016.

Lars Paul Esbjorn and Esbjorn family papers, 1778-1982 and undated.
Elena Leith
September 2016
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Repository Details

Part of the Augustana College Special Collections Repository

639 38th Street
Thomas Tredway Library
Rock Island Illinois 61201 United States