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Rockford First Lutheran Church Records

Overview

Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Historical Files

Administrative Material

Financial Records

Church Organizations

First Lutheran

Membership and Pastorial Records

June 1985

July 1998

April 2005



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Rockford First Lutheran Church Records, 1853-2005 | Northern Illinois University

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Collection Overview

Title: Rockford First Lutheran Church Records, 1853-2005

ID: RHC/RC/083

Extent: 39.25 Linear Feet

Arrangement:

The first series contains the church’s historical files. 

The files dating 1854-1979 are arranged alphabetically by subject and the files dating 1853-1899 are arranged chronologically.   Series two contains minutes, reports, correspondence and agreements from the administrative bodies of the church.

All materials in this series are arranged chronologically with each subseries.   In all cases materials are arranged chronologically by type.  The records of several church organizations make up series four. Records of official pastoral acts and membership are found in series six.

Date Acquired: 11/21/1979. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Augustana Synod, Diaries-- 1840-1869, Diaries-- 1870-1909, First Lutheran Church (Rockford, Ill.), Lutherans, Nelson, John, Prohibition, Rockford (Ill.), Rockford Mitten and Hosiery Company, Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod in North America, Swedish Americans, Swedish Americans- Illinios- Rockford, United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Diaries

Languages: English, Swedish

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The materials in this collection provide extensive documentation of the origins and growth of First Lutheran Church and of Rockford’s Swedish community from 1853 to 1970.  The collection is arranged in six series which provide fairly complete information on all aspects of the history of the church.  Researchers should note that although much of the pre-1930 material is in the Swedish language, translations of some of the core records are included.

The first series contains the church’s historical files.  The materials in this series were put together to aid in the preparation of the church’s centennial album (1954) and were updated thereafter.  The files dating 1854-1979 are arranged alphabetically by subject and the files dating 1853-1899 are arranged chronologically.  Also contained in this series are anniversary albums and programs; publications; materials relating to prominent church members; newspaper clippings and photographs and date 1856-1969.  This series serves as an outline of the subjects and types of materials found in the rest of the collection.

Series two contains minutes, reports, correspondence and agreements from the administrative bodies of the church.  Included in this series are minutes of annual congregational meetings, 1854-1969; minutes of Deacons and Trustees joint meetings, 1864-1943; minutes of Trustees meetings, Trustees’ correspondence, agreements, and reports, (1889-1966); minutes of Deacons meetings, 1944-1966; minutes, resolutions, and correspondence of the Church Council and Board of Administration, (1957-1977).  All materials in this series are arranged chronologically with each subseries.  Microfilmed minutes, which were added at a later time, are in Box 38A.

The church’s general financial records are found in series three and span the years 1854-1978.  Types of materials include: general ledgers, 1883-1895, (1912-1961); annual statements, 1854-1968; treasurer’s reports, (1897-1960); day books, (1868-1929); dues records, 1864-1976, 1898-1906, 1916-1929; pledges, 1929-1968; Savings Bank records, (1876-1902); and J. Godfrey Grant legacy account, 1920-1942.  In all cases materials are arranged chronologically by type.  Researchers should note that printed monthly reports containing financial data are located in series six.

The records of several church organizations make up series four and span the entire history of the church.  Types of materials found in this series include minutes, financial records, membership data, programs, publications, and scrapbooks.  The activities of the following organizations are partially documented: Brotherhood, 1926-1953; Jubilee Chorus, 1904-1954; Ladies Aid Society, 1883-1958; Luther League, 1877-1965; Sunday School, 1870-1966; and missionary societies, 1870-1960.  Although there are gaps in the records of all the listed organizations, documentation for the Brotherhood, Luther League, and missionary societies is the most comprehensive.

Series five contains printed materials from First Lutheran including monthly reports (1909-1959); bulletins, (1892-1978); and newsletters, 1957-1978.  Also contained in this series is publications from the district, synod, and national levels.

Records of official pastoral acts and membership are found in series six.  Types of materials include: original members, 1894; membership records, 1929-1954; confirmation data, 1857-1955; and transfer records, 1929-1954.  Although the bulk of the records of official acts remain with the church at this time, the Center expects First Lutheran to add these materials to the collection in 1980 or 1981.

Collection Historical Note

In the fall of 1853 Dr. Erland Carlsson of Chicago visited the new Scandinavian community in Rockford to see if it was feasible to organize a new congregation.  As a result of this meeting a formal petition was sent to the United Chicago and Mississippi Conference requesting that a pastor be sent to Rockford to organize a church.  Dr. Carlsson returned to Rockford on January 15, 1854 and met with the group to organize the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran congregation.  The congregation’s first deacons were John Peterson and Jonas Larson and the trustees chosen were John Lundback and Joseph Lindgren.  The new church’s first regular pastor, Andress Andreen, began his duties in 1856.

From 1854 to 1860 First Lutheran belonged to the Synod of Northern Illinois but in 1860 the congregation decided to join the newly created Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod of North America.  This synod became predominantly Swedish-American in 1870 when Norwegian Lutherans withdrew their congregation.  The tremendous growth of the Swedish community in Rockford after the Civil War led to increased membership rolls at First Lutheran.  To accommodate this growth the church erected three new structures in 1865, 1870 and the building currently in use, 1884.  Despite a split in the congregation in 1883, which led to the formation of a new church, First Lutheran’s growth continued and the church expanded its activities.  Among the many organizations founded during the last half of the 19th century were: Sunday School, 1853; Temperance Society, 1857; Savings Bank, 1869; Youth Society, 1878; Ladies Aid Society, 1883; and Women’s Missionary Society, 1890.

In addition to their church activities, many of First Lutheran’s members were beginning to make their mark in Rockford’s business community, especially in the knitting and furniture industries.  John Nelson moved to the forefront of the knitting industry when he perfected and patented a machine which would knit a stocking automatically.  Besides his role in the Nelson Knitting Co., John Nelson also helped to organize the Rockford Mitten Co. in 1881.  The furniture industry attracted many of First Lutheran’s members including S. A. Johnson, L. M. Noling, August Peterson and A. P. Floberg who were the chief officers of the Central Furniture Co. organized in 1879.  Several other furniture companies, including Forest City Furniture Co. and Union Furniture Co. were organized by members of First Lutheran and provided employment for many members.

As the congregation approached its 50th anniversary in 1904, First Lutheran had grown to become one of the largest Swedish Lutheran congregations in the United States and one of the dominant forces in the spiritual, economic, and political life of Rockford.  The history of First Lutheran in the twentieth century revolves around the lengthy pastorates of Johann F. Seedhoff (1896-1927) and Albert Loreen (1928-1956).  During the early years under Pastor Seedhoff First Lutheran added to its property, played an active role in the temperance movement in Rockford, and entered the growing debate over the transition from Swedish to English in church services.

By the 1920’s, declining memberships, controversy over the Grant estate, and the congregation’s dissatisfaction with Pastor Seedhoff’s leadership led to his resignation in 1927.  Albert Loreen began his lengthy term as pastor in 1928 and under his direction First Lutheran completed the transition to the English language, became more directly involved in youth programs, care for the elderly, and hospital work.  In the mid-1950’s First Lutheran joined with other members of the Augustana Synod and entered into discussions with other Lutheran church bodies which culminated in the formation of the Lutheran Church in America in 1962.

Despite pressures to relocate due to population shifts, First Lutheran remains in the center of the old Swedish neighborhood and continues to use the church built in 1884.

Subject/Index Terms

Augustana Synod
Diaries-- 1840-1869
Diaries-- 1870-1909
First Lutheran Church (Rockford, Ill.)
Lutherans
Nelson, John
Prohibition
Rockford (Ill.)
Rockford Mitten and Hosiery Company
Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod in North America
Swedish Americans
Swedish Americans- Illinios- Rockford
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Diaries

Administrative Information

Repository: Northern Illinois University

Accruals: Additional records were added at later dates.

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection are held by First Lutheran Church; literary rights are dedicated to the public.

Acquisition Source: Reverend Arne Peterson

Acquisition Method: Reverend Arne Peterson deposited the records of First Lutheran Church with the Northern Illinois Regional History Center on November 21, 1979.

Related Materials: Researchers using this collection may also wish to consult other related manuscript collections held by the Regional History Center: Salem Lutheran Church, Sandwich (RC 84); Rockford Mitten and Hosiery (RC 38); Rockford Chair and Furniture (RC 42); Rockford Small Business (RC 57); National Chair (RC 59); Good Templars, (RC 66).


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series I: Historical Files],
[Series II: Administrative Material],
[Series III: Financial Records],
[Series IV: Church Organizations],
[Series V: First Lutheran],
[Series VI: Membership and Pastorial Records],
[Addendum I: June 1985],
[Addendum II: July 1998],
[Addendum III: April 2005],
[All]

Series V: First Lutheran
Box 30
Folder 11-21: Monthly reports, 1909-1917, 1918-1931, 1935, 1936-1949
Box 31
Folder 1-5: Monthly reports, 1950-1959
Folder 6-39: Bulletins, 1896-1967
Box 32
Folder 1-11: Bulletins, 1968-1978
Folder 12-15: Newsletters, 1957-1978
Folder 16: Forsamlings-Vannen, 1890-1927
Folder 17: Ungdoms Vannen, 1902
Folder 18: Augustana, 1910
Folder 19: Lutheran Companion, 1915, 1930, 1949,1962
Folder 20: Almanacs, 1938-1947
Folder 21: Den Swenska Psalmboken uf Konungen, 1862
Box 33
Folder 1: Plymouth Collection of Hymns, 1867
Folder 2: Bradbury's Fresh Laurels, Hymn book, 1867
Folder 3: Preludier för Orgel, 1874
Folder 4: Barnvännens Lyra, Songbook, 1876
Folder 5: Sångbok för Söndags-Skolan och Hemmet, Songbook, 1877
Folder 6: Hemlands, Ahnfelts, och Pilgrims-Sånger, 1880
Folder 7: Psalm-Boken med dess Koraler samt Evangelii-Boken, 1880
Folder 8: Barn-vännens Lyra, Songbook, 1882
Folder 9: Psalms of David (English & Swedish), 1882
Folder 10: Den Swenska Psalm-Boken uf Konungen, pocket-size, 1882
Folder 11: Den Svenska Psalmboken af år 1819, 1884
Folder 12: Den Svenska Psalm-Boken af år 1819, pocket-size, 1884
Folder 13: Den Svenska Psalmboken af år 1819, with "First Lutheran Church, Rockford, Illinois" embossed on cover, 1884
Folder 14: Svenska Psalmboken af år 1819 förenad med Koral-Bok, 1884
Folder 15: Den Svenska Psalm-Boken af år 1819, 1885
Box 34
Folder 1: Gospel Hymns [Consolidated], 1886
Folder 2: Koral-Bok med Svenska Psalmboken, 1886
Folder 3: Den Swenska Psalm-Boken af år 1819, pocket-size with blue fabric and decorative gold inlay, 1888
Folder 4: Vocal Selections No. 532: He's Gone (Bradbury Memorial), Songbook, 1888
Folder 5: Barnens Andra Bok för Skolan och Hemmet, 1890
Folder 6: HemlandsSånger utgifna af Augustana-Synoden, 1891
Folder 7: Vårt Land, Songbook, 1891
Folder 8: Tempelkören, Songbook, 1899
Folder 9: Utdrag ur Kyrko-Handbok för Augustana-Synoden, Songbook, 1899
Folder 10: Den Swenska Psalm-Boken af år 1819, pocket-size, Inscription: Agnes Bogren, Confirmation Day, 1900
Folder 11: Aeolsharpan, Songbook, 1908
Folder 12: Luther League Hymn Book, 1913
Folder 13: Lutherförbundets Sångbok, 1913
Folder 14: Den Svenska Psalm-Boken afår 1819, Inscription: Laurence Bogren, Confirmation Day, 1915
Folder 15: Hymnal and Order of Service, Inscription: Edith Floren, 1920
Box 35
Folder 1: Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation, 1922
Folder 2: The Junior Hymnal, 1928
Folder 3: Convention Hymnal, 1938
Folder 4: Bilder ur Jesu lif, Psalmbook, no date
Folder 5: Sankey's Sång-Bok, no date
Folder 6: The Song Era, Songbook by Frederic W. Root, no date
Folder 7: Under julträdet, Songbook, no date
Folder 8: Augustana Church; history; reports, 1938, 1950,1955
Folder 9: World Council of Churches, 1948
Folder 10: Augustana Church; history, 1960
Folder 11: Augustana Church; Central Conferences, 1960
Folder 12: Augustana Church; Report of the 101st Synod, 1960
Folder 13: Augustana Och Missionaren, 1885
Folder 14: Augustana annual, 1959-l962
Folder 15: Augustana bulletin, 1912
Folder 16: Augustana missions, 1959
Folder 17: Bible Study Quarterly, 1927
Folder 18: Christian Cynosure, 1935
Folder 19: Illinois Synod; minutes, 1968
Folder 20: Lutheran Foreign Missions Conference of America; Proceedings, 1939
Folder 21: The Law of Moral  Influence by W. F. Eyster, 1880
Folder 22: The Story of Our China Mission  by Gustav Carlbert, 1938
Folder 23: Ungdoms-Vannen , 1895-1898
Oversize Volume 1: Barnavanne, 1881-1886
Box 36
Folder 1: Ungdoms-Vannen , 1880

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Historical Files],
[Series II: Administrative Material],
[Series III: Financial Records],
[Series IV: Church Organizations],
[Series V: First Lutheran],
[Series VI: Membership and Pastorial Records],
[Addendum I: June 1985],
[Addendum II: July 1998],
[Addendum III: April 2005],
[All]


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