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Armour Mission records, 1881-1931

Identifier: 002.03.01

Records of Armour Mission, Chicago, IL, 1881-1931. The collection includes records concerning church congregation membership and programs, official publications, financial records, real estate materials, and artifacts. These materials represent the only known official records of Armour Mission, a non-sectarian Christian church congregation and quasi-settlement house on Chicago's South Side in the late 1800s.


  • Creation: 1881-1931


Conditions Governing Access

Available for Research

Collection Size

7 Boxes

Biographical Note

The Armour Mission was a non-sectarian Christian church congregation and quasi-settlement house on Chicago's South Side in the late 1800s.It stood at the south-east corner of 33rd St. and Federal St. on Chicago's South Side and was built by brothers Joseph and Philip D. Armour of Armour Meatpacking Company. The Mission was conceived of as a Sunday School for neighborhood children, but soon expanded to offer Sunday services and Bible classes under the guidance of Rev. John D. McCord as well as sponsoring societies for adults and children. The children's Sunday School, which opened in 1874 as Plymouth Mission, was located at 31st and State Streets until the Armour Mission building was erected in 1886. The Mission building was designed by Burnham & Root, one of Chicago's most prestigious architectural firms. It was in this building that the Mission expanded its role to become a Kindergarten and trade school of sorts for its young members. Dr. J. H. Hollister was the school's superintendent, but Julia Beveridge, who later became the librarian at Armour Institute of Technology, one of Illinois Institute of Technology's two predecessor schools was the driving force behind its identity and curriculum while Malvina Ogden Armour, known as Belle or Madam Armour, was its chief supporter. Growing rapidly, Armour Mission Sunday School expanded from some 500 members in 1886 to 2,200 students and 130 teachers in 1895. It is said that by 1905, total aggregate attendance had exceeded 1,000,000 students. Around the perimeter of the block bounded by 33rd, Dearborn, 34th, and Federal Streets, Philip D. Armour built 213 apartments which he rented to employees of Armour & Co., his family's meat packing business located a mile southwest. Income from Armour Flats supplemented the original endowment created by Joseph and Philip to provide the operational funds for Armour Mission. The Armour Mission programs included a library, the monthly publication "Armour Mission Visitor," a music department, holiday celebrations, a summer camp, and a boys' military brigade and girls' drill corps. Sponsored lectures, concerts, and exhibitions offered cultural programming to congregation members, and a medical dispensary served some 13,000 patients in 1894. As such, the Armour Mission evolved into one of Chicago's 19th century settlement houses, filling a role on the city's south side like Jane Addams' Hull-House did on the west side. After the Armour Mission Sunday School, Kindergarten, and congregation were dissolved, the Mission building continued to function as the auditorium for Armour Institute of Technology which had been built across the street from Armour Mission.

Related Material

1998.186/AIT Records/Boxes 2 & 9 Materials in the Armour Institute of Technology Records collection included legal materials regarding court case decision concerning real estate and financial assets of Armour Mission., 1998.186/AIT Records/Box 10 Annual financial reports of Armour Mission are combined and bound together with AIT financial reports., 1998.024/ Frank W. Gunsaulus Papers/Box 2 Correspondence contains a letter drafted on Armour Mission letterhead (filed in M for Mouat (sic) [Mowat], dated 1/18/1918)., 2005.025/ IIT General Counsel's Records Included is historical research conducted ca. 1959-1964 re the real estate property where Armour Mission was located.


Two goblets from the communion set and one trophy are in Reading Room display case.


Catherine Bruck, University Archivist December 15, 1998

Part of the Paul V. Galvin Library. University Archives and Special Collections Repository

35 West 33rd Street
Chicago IL 60616
(312) 567-5993

Paul V. Galvin Library

35 West 33rd Street | Chicago, IL | 60616