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Conrad Bergendoff papers

Identifier: MSS 5

Scope and Contents

The Conrad Bergendoff papers, 1869-1998 and undated, are organized into thirteen series.

Official Presidential Correspondence, 1935-1962, of President Bergendoff, consists of letters received and replies sent during his presidency. There is an alphabetical arrangement (by the sender) for each academic year (September-August).

Subject File, 1912-1962 and undated, is the bulk of the collection. A complete file of the annual reports may be found in Box 33. A summary of the material for the president's reports are within Boxes 33 and 34.

Some of the items in the Personal Papers, 1903-1994 and undated, were withdrawn from the subject file where they had been filed under the word “Personal.” Several biographies and autobiographies, presumably written by Dr. Bergendoff at different times (undated), have been retained in this series. Of special note are the annual appointment calendars kept during the years of his presidency (Box 43).

Swedish Pioneer Centennial, 1945-1983, Lutheran Church, 1936-1970 and undated, National Council of Churches, 1950-1964 and undated, and Ecumenical, 1926-1963 and undated, largely, include papers, reports, and correspondence. During and following the years of his presidency, Dr. Bergendoff was recognized as a national and international leader of the Lutheran Church, and the same applies to his interests and activities in ecumenical affairs of the church.

Recorded Speeches and Film, 1957-1973 and undated, consists of speeches and chapel talks given mainly during Dr. Bergendoff's presidency. Included is a film recording of the marker dedication at Jefferson Prairie, Wisconsin, in 1930, and the inauguration service of Conrad Bergendoff as president of Augustana College.

Miscellaneous Papers, 1900-1991 and undated, largely contains the many Augustana and church-related writings, addresses, sermons, bibliographic notes, and articles appearing in newspapers and journals. Articles appearing in journals and newspapers have been filed by date when indicated by the author. The series also includes the sources, notebooks, edits, and correspondence regarding Bergendoff’s book, The Augustana Ministerium: A Study of the Careers of the 2,504 Pastors of the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Synod/ Church, 1850-1962.

Memorabilia and Artifacts, 1884-1995 and undated, largely contains academic and professional awards, certificates, and honors. The series also includes several personal belongings, artifacts, and photographs. Personal Correspondence series, 1923-1982, consists of family letters, some correspondence received after the term of his presidency, as well as materials pertaining to his interests outside the Augustana College community. There are numerous photographs included.

1993-1996 Addendum (unprocessed), 1869-1997 and undated, is partially processed and mostly contains writings by Bergendoff, personal and professional correspondence, diaries, appointment books, and family papers.

Other Audiovisual Materials, 1982-1998 and undated, consist of audiovisual materials originally separate from the collection and housed in the audiovisual collections. Materials mostly include audiocassette tapes, videotapes, reel-to-reel audiotapes, and films. Several interviews with Bergendoff may be of special interest.


  • Creation: 1869-1998 and undated


Conditions Governing Access

Box U2 includes one item that is restricted for use. Audiovisual materials may be inaccessible pending reformatting. Contact Special Collections for more information.

For the minimially processed boxes (U1-U33), please contact Special Collections well in advance of any planned research visit. Be advised that preparing unprocessed collections for research may several days or weeks. Please also note that only a portion of these materials are described in the inventory.

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.

Biographical / Historical

Conrad Bergendoff was the son of Rev. C. A. Bergendoff who arrived in the United States in 1882 from Småland, Sweden, and of Mrs. Emma Fahlberg Bergendoff, of Princeton, Illinois, whose parents came in 1870 from Västergotland and Osterland, Sweden.

His father was a pastor in Shickley, Nebraska, when Conrad was born on December 3, 1895, but moved to Middletown, Connecticut in 1900. Here Conrad Bergendoff received his early education, graduating from high school in 1912. His father graduated from Augustana College in 1890, while the younger Bergendoff entered Augustana and finished in 1915. Conrad then spent a year at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his MA in English and History in 1916. The following year he served as an instructor at his alma mater, in the English department. He continued his studies at Columbia University from 1917 to 1918, and at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, 1918 to 1919. During these years, he also served as assistant to Dr. M. Stolpe at the Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church of New York City. In 1919, he returned to continue his studies at Augustana and graduated from the Theological Seminary in 1921.

From 1921 to 1931, he was pastor of the Salem Lutheran Church in Chicago. (During this period the church moved from 28th and Princeton Avenues to 74th Street and Calumet Avenue where a new church plant was built.) Bergendoff continued his studies in the field of history at the University of Chicago. To complete his thesis he went to Sweden and Germany, spending 1926 to 1927 in research. He completed this work and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1928. MacMillan published the thesis, Olavus Petri and the Ecclesiastical Transformation in Sweden. In 1930, Dr. Bergendoff wrote a book, The Making and Meaning of the Augsburg Confession.

In 1931, he became Dean of the Augustana Theological Seminary, a position he occupied until 1935 when he was elected by the Augustana Synod as president of Augustana College and Theological Seminary. He received honorary degrees from Upsala College (LL.D.) and Uppsala University (Th.D.) and was named Knight of the Order of the North Star.

In educational associations, he served on the Executive Committee of the American Association of Colleges, and on the Commission of Colleges and Universities of the North Central Association. He was president of the Federation of Illinois Colleges, of the Lutheran Educational Conference, and of the American Association of Theological Schools. He was a trustee of the American-Scandinavian Foundation.

Dr. Bergendoff was a member of many boards and commissions in his own Synod. He was a member of the Joint Lutheran Liturgical Commission. In 1937, he attended the ecumenical conferences at Oxford and Edinburgh and was a member of Commission I preparing the Amsterdam meeting of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam (1948). In 1947, he was a delegate to the Lutheran World Federation at Lund, Sweden.

He contributed articles to many educational and religious journals. He was associate editor of The Augustana Quarterly and a member of the publication board of Christendom. He authored Christ as Authority, published in 1947. In 1948, he was Dudleian Lecturer on "Revealed Religion" at Harvard Divinity School.

In his own community, he served as president of the Council of Social Agencies and as Area president of the Boy Scouts. He was a member of the Rotary and enjoyed the recreation afforded by the Black Hawk Hiking Club. Dr. Bergendoff married Miss Gertrude Carlson of Rockford in 1922. They had three children: Conrad L., Beatrice, and Elizabeth Ann. Dr. Bergendoff died at the age of 102 on December 23, 1997, in Rock Island, Illinois.


58.10 Cubic Feet (/ 161 boxes, 2 AV boxes, and 2 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



Conrad Bergendoff was the fifth president of Augustana College. Bergendoff was born in rural Nebraska in 1895. He attended Augustana College, and was a member of the class of 1915. He also earned a divinity degree from Augustana Seminary. After several years Bergendoff returned to the seminary as the dean, then as the president of the seminary and the college in 1935. After the seminary split from the college in 1948, Bergendoff remained the president of the college for fourteen more years. He retired in 1962. His collection includes papers relating to organizations and departments in the college, papers relating to persons and organizations outside of the college, annual presidential reports, biographical and autobiographical accounts, personal correspondence, vital records, photographs, newspaper and journal articles, recorded speeches, personal notes on various religious and academic subjects, sermons, addresses, published articles, notebooks, honorary degrees and awards, and memorabilia.


Dr. Bergendoff initially sorted the collection, the final arrangement was simplified. An alphabetical arrangement under each academic year (September-August) has been retained for the series, Official Presidential Correspondence, 1935-1962. Subject Files, 1924-1962 and undated, formerly an annual arrangement, has been reprocessed into a cumulative index file largely covering the presidential years, 1935 to 1962. Personal Correspondence, 1923-1982 and undated, is intact as Dr. Bergendoff organized them.

Other Finding Aids

A legacy PDF index for this collection is available at Please note that this legacy finding aid does not include a fully accurate and detailed inventory.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Dr. Conrad Bergendoff deposited his papers in 1965. Miscellaneous papers and memorabilia have been added since that time, including a large portion between 1993 to 1996.

Processing Information

Partially processed by former library staff. Updated by Taylor Waugh and Micaela Terronez, 2023.

Conrad Bergendoff papers, 1869-1998.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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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