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The University of Iowa Libraries

Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Samuel Calvin Papers
RG 99.0083
Collection Dates: 1862-1980
15.5 linear ft.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

Copyright: Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials.

Use of Collections: The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Acquisition and Processing Information: These materials were donated to the University Archives by Ray Anderson in December 1997 and the Iowa Geological Survey Bureau in 1998. Guide created by Denise Anderson, September 2007.

Photographs: Box 11, Box 12

Professor Samuel Calvin, 1882

Samuel Calvin, 1882

Scope and Contents

This collection includes the professional correspondence, speeches, and publications of Samuel Calvin, dated 1884 to 1910.  Three boxes contain material relating to his family, including correspondence, photographs, and travel journals. A detailed inventory of this collection, created by a bookseller, is housed in box 13.

Biographical Note

Samuel Calvin was born February 2, 1840, in Wigtownshire, Scotland.  Calvin's parents immigrated to the United States in 1851, and lived first in New York, and then moved to Iowa in 1855.  On April 30, 1864, he enlisted in the service of the Union Army, 44th Regiment of the Iowa Infantry Volunteers, as a private in Company C, for a period of 100 days.  At the time of his enlistment, Mr. Calvin was working as a carpenter.  On September 5, 1865, he married Mary Louise Jackson of Hopkinton, Iowa.  They had one child, Alice, born in 1866.

Calvin took his M.A. degree at Cornell College in 1874, and his Ph.D. at Lenox College in 1888.  He received the LL.D. degree at Cornell College in 1904.  He was professor of Natural Sciences at Lenox College in Hopkinton from 1864 to 1869, and served as the principal of a Dubuque, Iowa, school from 1869 until 1873.

Calvin joined the faculty of the State University of Iowa in January 1874 as professor of Natural Science and curator of the University Cabinet.  He was the first head of the SUI Geology Department, and served as geologist for the state of Iowa, with his focus on paleontology.  His other areas of research and instruction were zoology and botany.  In addition, he had a keen interest in environmental conservation, and was an accomplished photographer.  Calvin made photographs of geological formations, as well as the architecture and people of the Iowa City area.  Samuel Calvin died April 17, 1911.

[D. Anderson; 09/2007]

Related Materials

Folder, "Calvin, Samuel," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.03)

Samuel Calvin photographs, within Iowa City Town and Campus Scenes digital collection  (

Records of the Dept. of Geoscience (RG 06.15)

Manuscript File Collection on Early University History (RG 01.01.01)

Papers of George F. Kay (RG99.0086)

Box Contents List

Box 1


---. 1886

---. 1891-1892

---. 1892-1893

---. 1895

Box 2

Correspondence, cont.

---. 1893

---. 1895

---. 1899

Box 3

Correspondence, cont.

---. 1884

---. 1885

---. 1902

---. 1909

Box 4

Correspondence, cont.

---. 1903

---. 1904

---. 1908

Box 5

Correspondence, cont.

---. 1894

---. 1901

---. 1905

---. 1908

Box 6

Correspondence, cont.

---. 1906

---. 1907

Box 7

Correspondence, cont.

---. 1894

---. 1909; A-K

---. 1910

Box 8

Correspondence, cont.

---. 1897

---. 1898

---. 1900

Box 9

Correspondence, cont.

---. 1904

---. 1905

---. 1909

Correspondence from Calvin, 1892-1893

Newspaper clippings, 1910

Photo-postcard of Old Northwood Mill, destroyed by fire October 5, 1905

Box 10


---. Lenox Days, 1900: a Souvenir of the Fortieth Anniversary of Lenox College

---. The Bairds: a Condensed Chronology of an Ancient House, With Genealogical Tracings of its American Descendants, 1909

---. Holy Bible, inscribed "Samuel Calvin, Camp McClellan, Davenport, Iowa, May 21, 1864"

---. Scrapbook, inscribed "To Mama from Alice, December 25, 1880, Merry Christmas!"

------. Clippings and obituaries, 1873-1902

------. Poems

------. State University of Iowa commencement program, 1887

------. Letter, 1899

Folder, W. A. Lomas

---. Letter regarding folder contents, 1980

Box 11


Correspondence, 1862-1909

Marriage certificate, Samuel Calvin and Mary Louise Jackson, September 5, 1865, in Hopkinton, Iowa

Composition, "My Visit to Grandma's," by Alice B. Calvin

Biography of Samuel Calvin for National Cyclopedia of American Biography, December 24, 1915

Army discharge papers, September 15, 1864

Leonard Calvin folder of correspondence and clippings

Box 12


---. Portrait of Mrs. Calvin, ca. 1900

---. Lomas family

Travel journals of Alice B. (Calvin) Lomas, 1891-1892

Correspondence, 1891-1892

Box 13

Outline of collection providing detail of correspondence and photographs

Samuel Calvin by Harrison John Thornton, Centennial Memoirs series.


Box 14