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Upsala College records, 1893-1995

Size: 234.25 linear feet, 508 boxes

Acquisition: Donated to the Swenson Center in 1995

Access: The collection is open for research and a limited amount of copies can be requested via mail.

Processed by: Robert Pearson, Christina Johansson

Control Num.: SSIRC I/O:58

Please note that student transcripts are held by Felician College in New Jersey. Please contact Felician College for questions regarding transcripts:


The Upsala College records were donated to the Swenson Center by the last president of the College, Paul V. DeLomba on May 15, 1995.


Upsala College was founded at the annual Augustana Synod meeting in Rock Island, Illinois, in 1893. Lars Herman Beck was called by the Augustana Synod to become the 1st President. Beck met with the first 16 students in a church basement in Brooklyn in October of 1893. After having held classes in various church basements throughout Brooklyn, the school was in 1898 offered land and some monetary funds by the New Orange Industrial Association in rural Kenilworth, New Jersey. The first building on the new grounds was "Old Main," followed by a dormitory, a Commercial Hall and a gymnasium. Upsala became a four year degree college in 1903 and graduated its first students with B.A. degrees in 1905. Beck resigned from the position of President in 1910.

An Upsala College graduate, Rev. Peter Froeberg assumed the presidency in 1912. Froeberg's most important task at Upsala became fund raising. The college's finances were in a desperate financial condition and during the first few years, Froeberg often borrowed money in his own name to pay the debts. He finally secured a mortgage from Scandia Life Insurance Company in New York, which was large enough to pay off all the debts end the foreclosing procedures.

C.G. Erickson assumed the presidency of Upsala College in 1920 and served the College until 1936. Erickson was instrumental in reorganizing the curriculum and the faculty and the student body increased from 300 to 1,500 during his tenure. He also led the New York and New England conferences of the Augustana Synod in raising $465, 000 to redevelop the school. In 1923, the college also purchased 45 acres of land in East Orange, New Jersey, where a new campus was erected.

The Rev. Evald Benjamin Lawson became president of the College in 1938, a position he held until he died in 1965. During Lawson's long tenure as president the college expanded physically and new buildings were built, the Beck Hall, residence halls, library and a chapel. Lawson was an enthusiastic representative for the College and he formed close ties between with the synod and the College.

Carl Gustaf Fjellman assumed the presidency in 1966. Fjellman oversaw the completion of the Puder Hall of the sciences in 1968, the College Center, and a new town house complex, which were both built in 1970. Multiculturalism and intergration became key issues for the administration during Fjellman's presidency. A few factors that most likely contributed directly to new challenges for Upsala administration in the late 1960s was the economic downturn in the urban area of East Orange and the riots in neighboring Newark in 1967.

Rodney Felder became the sixth president in 1976 and stayed at Upsala until 1984. During this period the school expanded and added a second campus (Wirths) in Sussex County.

David E. Schramm was elected president in 1986 and stayed in that position for only two years. The College was suffering from both declining enrollment during the 80s and tax base from the city of East Orange.

Robert E. Karsten became the president of Upsala College in 1988 when the school was suffering from serious economic problems. After decades of downsizing, Karsten worked diligently to increase the student enrollment and improve the academic standards of the students admitted. He brought in both a number of international students and students outside the immediate commuting area. He also initiated renovations of buildings and major cleaning of the groundsDespite the committed leadership of Karsten and improvements of the both the student body and the campus the economic situation worsened. Even a $4 million dollar loan from its Lutheran sister colleges in the Midwest was not enough to keep the situation solvent.

Paul V. DeLomba was hired in 1994 by the Board of Directors to close the College and Upsala College closed on May 31, 1995.

Scope and Content

The records covers much of the life and scope of the College from its founding in 1893 to the closing in 1995. Included are the papers of the Presidents, the records from the Dean's offices, the minutes of the Board of Directors, the comptroller, and other administrative offices. The collection also contains faculty publications, records of student organizations such as the Swedish literary society Samfundet De Nio, and photographs depicting early campus life.

The collection is organized into the following series

Series I - Presidential Papers (listed in chronological order)

This series contain papers from the first to last Upsala College Presidents: Lars Herman Beck, 1893-1910; Peter Froeberg, 1910-1919; Carl Gustav Erickson, 1920-1936; Evald Benjamin Lawson 1938-1965; Carl Gustav Fjellman 1966-1976; Rodney O. Felder, 1977-1984; David E. Schramm 1986-1988; Robert E. Karsten, 1988-1994; Paul V. DeLomba, 1995.

Series II - Dean's Papers (listed and arranged in alphabetical order)

The series contain papers from Frans August Ericsson who was dean from 1925 to the mid 1940s and Associate Dean William J. Alexander, 1968-1992. Dean Alexander's papers are not open to the public at this time.

Series III - Board of Trustees

Series IV - Financial Documents, Comptroller

Series V - Assessments, Self-Studies, Accreditation

Series VI - General Administrative Papers

Series VII - Faculty Papers

Series VIII - Student Papers

Series IX - Department of Education

Series X - Personal Papers from the Upsala College Archives - Walter Gustafson, Walline,

Series XI – Upsala College History

Series XII – Women’s Auxiliary

Series XIII – Alumni Papers

Series XIV – Photos

Many of the photographs from this collection can be viewed online in our PastPerfect Online Database by clicking the link and keyword searching "Upsala College (East Orange, N.J.) records" (with the quotes). 

Series XV – Architectural plans and drawings

Series XVI – Wirth Campus

Series XVII - Memorabilia

Many of the objects from this collection can be viewed online in our PastPerfect Online Database by clicking the link and keyword searching "Upsala College (East Orange, N.J.) records" (with the quotes).