Lewis Institute student records, 1925-1940
Partial grade reports for Lewis Institute students with last names starting with N. Pages appear to have been cut in half and only the top portions remains.
- Creation: 1925-1940
Conditions Governing Access
Available for Research
Biographical / Historical
The Lewis Institute was a technical and professional college that served the greater Chicago area from 1896 to 1940. In 1940 it merged with Armour Institute of Technology to form the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). The Lewis Institute was created by the bequest of Chicago business Allen Cleveland Lewis (1821--1877), who willed his estate to the creation of a school of higher learning open to all men and women regardless of finances or social standing. The Lewis Institute was subsequently established in 1896 in a building designed by Henry Ives Cobb on the corner of Madison St. and Robey St. (now Damen St.) In the spirit of Lewis’ wishes, the school site was selected because it was easy to access from several train lines, and also housed a branch of the Chicago Public Library on its first floor. Lewis Institute’s first president, George Noble Carman (1856--1941) and first dean, Edwin Herbert Lewis (1866-1938), worked together to create an innovative higher education program that blended liberal arts with practical training. When Lewis Institute opened in 1896, it offered a high school (academy) program, a two year degree and a four year engineering degree. One of the requirements of Allen C Lewis’s will was that the college offer night classes for working adults; these began in 1896 as well, and are thought to be one of the first night college programs in the United States. By 1906 Lewis Institute expanded into three main areas of study: General Science, which included Domestic Arts; Liberal Arts; and Engineering and Mechanical Arts. In 1917 the school began offering a four year bachelor’s degree in Arts & Sciences in addition to Engineering. All of these programs, including Domestic Arts, focused on a practical professional education for both male and female students. Lewis Institute had a diverse and active student body. In 1928 a survey showed students of fifty two different nationalities, including emigrants from Scandinavia, Eastern European nations, India, China, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Altogether, Lewis Institute educated over 100,000 Chicago residents, many first or second generation U. S. immigrants. Students’ diverse backgrounds led to the creation of many cultural clubs and activities alongside more traditional college social life. The school produced a group of active and enthusiastic alumni who organized themselves into the Lewis Union Alumni Club as early as 1928. In 1940, after a decade of increasing financial and accreditation problems, Lewis Institute merged with the Armour Institute of Technology. Attempts to financially rebuild the estate had failed, and though the Lewis Institute considered merging with several Chicago schools, including the University of Chicago, it ultimately settled on the near south side engineering school. The new expanded institution was named Illinois Institute of Technology. After the merger, IIT continued to use the Lewis Institute building as an off-site campus, mostly for war training programs during World War II. The building was given to the city of Chicago in 1950 and later demolished. Since 1940 the name “Lewis Institute” has been periodically attached to liberal arts programs at IIT in honor of their origin.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Catherine Bruck, University Archivist 11/7/2008