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For many years the need of a history of the University of Illinois was very apparent. One by one the men who had a part in the founding and organization of the institution were passing away. With each succeeding year it was becoming more difficult to obtain the important facts and interpret them, and still more difficult properly to appreciate the spirit in which the early work of the founders had been accomplished. On being commissioned by the trustees to write the first detailed history of the university it seemed important that I should strive for completeness of detail even at the risk of being tiresome, and for accuracy though it might lead to recounting events of an unpleasant nature. If there are failures in these respects, they are due to lack of evidence or knowledge, or possibly to accident, certainly not to any lack of purpose.
It will be a matter of considerable surprise even to those associated with the university, to learn of the sixteen years of struggle previous to the establishment of this institution; first, for the whole system of industrial universities throughout the nation, and, second, for the founding of an industrial university in Illinois.
The material for this account has been obtained chiefly from the widely scattered correspondence of Jonathan B. Turner and his associates, from articles in the newspapers and the agricultural press of the times, and from official reports, bills, and laws. Almost nothing has been written upon this industrial educational movement in Illinois. I wish to acknowledge my great indebtedness, however, to the valuable articles of William L. Pillsbury in the Illinois School Reports. For the subjects covered I have found those articles remarkably complete and invariably correct. The little volume, “The Origin of the Land Grant Act," by President James has been specially helpful for it opened up a new field and pointed the way for profitable investigation.
In the preparation of this volume I am greatly indebted to the constant help and advice of President Edmund J. James. From William L. Pillsbury I have received invaluable aid in the way of constructive criticism and suggestions, particularly upon the early period of the work of the Illinois men. My thanks are due to Clarence W. Alvord for suggestions on methods of treatment, to Clara Mabel Smith of the school of education for assistance in collecting and arranging material for some of the chapters, to Charles Wesley Rolfe for reading chapters and for his ever ready willingness to inform me of early events; to Mrs. John M. Gregory, to James B. Murray of New York city, to Mrs. Mary Turner Carriel of Jacksonville, to Mrs. Joseph Carter, and to many others who have furnished me letters, manuscripts and photographs, and to Daniel K. Dodge of the department of English for valuable service in reading the proof of the entire volume. To former Judge J. O. Cunningham and to Thomas J. Burrill, both of whom have died since this volume was begun, I have occasion for deep gratitude for the pleasure and profit of several long conversations, shortly before their deaths, in regard to the men and the work of the early years of the institution.
BURT E. POWELL
Turner manuscripts refer to a collection of the letters that were
received by J. B. Turner and have been given to the University
by Mrs. Mary Carriel, daughter of Turner. Turner manuscripts, Springfield, is another collection from the
same source but in possession of the State Historical Library
in Springfield. Murray manuscripts are the letters and papers furnished the
university by Bronson Murray. Pennell manuscripts are letters loaned the university by Mrs.
Joseph Carter, a daughter of William A. Pennell. Cunningham manuscript is a paper written by former Judge
J. O. Cunningham for the express purpose of aiding the uni
versity historian. Brayman manuscripts, consisting of letters, copies of official
documents, and other papers, that belonged earlier to General Mason Brayman, were loaned to the university.