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Charles Albert Blanchard Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RG-02-002

Scope and Contents

The papers of Charles Albert Blanchard  minister, reformer, and second President of Wheaton College  consist of both personal papers and administrative archive material.  Collected from several sources since 1950, much of the material was given to the College Archives by Dr. Clyde S. Kilby.  It was among the Blanchard Family materials given to him by Miss Julia Blanchard (daughter of Charles Blanchard) when Kilby was researching his biography of Jonathan Blanchard.  Other material was discovered and gathered during the Wheaton History Project of the early 1970s, and added to the collection.  The papers date from ca. 1865 to 1926 and include biographical information, correspondence, diaries, financial records, manuscripts, memorials, newspaper clippings, personal notes, personal items, photos, published articles and pamphlets, and sermons and addresses.

The material has been divided into six series: Biographical, College Related, Correspondence, Personal, Research, and Written Works. The "Biographical" series contains written recollections of family members, friends, and students recorded after Blanchard's death.  Included are the galley proofs of Frances Carothers Blanchard's biography of her husband, The Life of Charles Albert Blanchard, published in 1932.  Other items are articles from periodicals, letters and telegrams concerning his death, and obituaries.  Over ninety student compositions, written for a rhetoric class in January of 1926, provide personal perceptions of the late president.  The Biographical series includes a subseries of "Memorials," which contains information concerning monuments honoring Charles Blanchard.

The "College Related" series is divided into the subseries of "College Business" and "Interim Presidency Period." The "College Business" category  contains  administrative correspondence dating from 1906 to 1925.  Two studies of Wheaton College by the University of Illinois, dated 1915 and 1925, are included in this sub series.  These were undertaken in order to rate the college for purposes of transferring credits to other institutions.  Also included under "College Related" is a long range plan for "Greater Wheaton College," written in 1921.  A "National Survey of Attitudes of Colleges Toward Certain Evangelical Policies" conducted in 1919 may also be found here.  Signed statements of faith and questionnaires of potential faculty, dated between 1923 and 1925, are contained within this subseries.

The "Interim Presidency Period" subseries contains College Related material dated between December 20, 1925, the date of Charles Blanchard's death, and April 1, 1926, the date James Oliver Buswell, Jr. became the third President of Wheaton College.

Correspondence was divided into four subseries: "General," "Blanchard T. Pettengill Family," "Mary Belle Blanchard Weaver Family," and "Other." The "General" correspondence is the largest of the five categories with items dating from 1858 to 1926.  Its contents include personal letters to and from members of Blanchard's immediate family.

The "Personal" category contains five subseries: Family Materials, Newspaper Clippings, Organizations, Personal, and Topics.  Within the Family Materials has been gathered four manuscripts, each written by one of Blanchard's three wives, and one by his daughter Mary Belle Blanchard.  Blanchard's collection of newspaper clippings include items dealing with the church in society, education, missionary activity, prayer, secret societies, temperance, tobacco, etc.  Blanchard was also involved with several organizations that dealt with issues of interest to him.  Material about three of these organizations (American Messianic Fellowship, Christian Workers' Conference, and National Christian Association) are contained in the Organization subseries.  The Personal subseries contains bill and receipts, collected personalia, notes, photos and other such items that were collected throughout Blanchard's life.  Topics is the last subseries of the Personal series.  This subseries includes material Blanchard collected about temperance and prohibition, and secret societies.

The "Research Material" series contains material written about Charles Blanchard since his death.  Quotations, articles, and correspondence concerning him are filed here.

The "Written Works" series contains both published and unpublished works by Blanchard.  Published items were filed separately from the non published.  Blanchard's published items include articles, books (housed separately), and pamphlets.  Among the unpublished works are several manuscripts and over 800 sermons and addresses.  Topics stressed in the sermons include Christian education, secret societies, and temperance.


  • Created: Majority of material found within 1858-1937
  • 1858-2012


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions for documents in this record group.

Biographical or Historical Information

Charles Albert Blanchard liked to recall that he was born in 1848, the year of revolutions. He was named for Charles Albert, Duke of Sardinia, who strove for Italian unification. The fifth of Jonathan and Mary Avery Bent Blanchard's twelve children (of whom six daughters and two sons lived twenty years or more), he was born on November 8, 1848, in Galesburg, Illinois. Charles' father had left the pastorate of the Sixth Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati to assume the presidency of Knox Manual Labor College in 1845. Friction between the elder Blanchard and the Knox College Board of Trustees eventuated in his resignation in 1858. Following brief pastorates in Congregational churches in Ottawa and Galesburg, the Blanchard family moved to Wheaton, where Jonathan Blanchard became head of the financially struggling Illinois Institute (soon re named Wheaton College). The town of Wheaton became Charles Blanchard's residence for the remainder of his life.Life as a boy in the Blanchard family included work on the family farm and preparatory school studies. A highlight of Charlie's younger years was a wagon trip to the Montana gold fields in 1864. Accompanying his father, the journey took them across the states of Illinois and Iowa and the territories of Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. On the return trip, Charles remained for a time in Nebraska Territory as a farm worker.Charles Blanchard began his preaching career at the age of nineteen, when he delivered his first sermon in York Center, Illinois. By the time he graduated from Wheaton College in 1870, he had presented 65 addresses concerning the ills of lodgery. Following his commencement, Charles lectured as an agent for the National Christian Association, a reform organization dedicated chiefly to opposing Freemasonry and other oath bound orders.In 1872, Charles began the affiliation with Wheaton College which was to last the rest of his life. That year he took the position of Principal of Preparatory Department. Two years later he became the College's first professor of English, a position he held for eight years. He studied at Chicago Theological Seminary in 1875 and served as Pastor of College Church in Wheaton from 1878 1883.Charles Blanchard married Margaret Ellen Milligan on October 16, 1873. His bride hailed from the Keystone State and the wedding took place in Pittsburg. Five Children were born to the couple: Jonathan McLeod (1874), Mary Belle (1876), Julia Warden Ellen (1878), Rachel Geraldine (1881), and Clara Levancia (1883).In 1882, Charles Albert Blanchard succeeded his father as President of Wheaton College. He would retain leadership as President and Professor of Mental and Moral Science for forty three years; the longest tenure served by a Wheaton College President.In 1884, after 11 years of marriage, Ellen died, suffering from heart lesions caused by childhood rheumatic fever. Charles remarried in 1886. The object of his love, Miss Amanda Jennie Carothers, had graduated with the Class of 1878 and served as Dean of Women from 1880 to their marriage. Jennie bore three children: Jane Caroline (1887), Marie Frances (1888), and Mildred Nora (1890), bringing the total number of Blanchard children to 8. (The son born to Charles' previous marriage died in infancy and Marie Frances died at the age of two.) Amanda Jennie died in 1894, leaving Charles a widower for the second time.Charles corresponded with Jennie's sister, Frances (an 1880 graduate of Wheaton College and medical doctor), after Jennie's death. This exchange eventually expanded to concern itself with matters of the heart and their marriage followed in 1896. During their marriage of twenty nine years, an adopted son, Paul, was added to the Blanchard home.Blanchard's professional life continued to expand. In 1896 the Doctorate of Divinity degree was bestowed upon him by Monmouth College. Between 1897 and 1899, Blanchard served a second time as pastor of College Church. Wheaton College named Blanchard to the Professorship of Psychology and Ethics in 1900 and from 1902 to 1904 Blanchard held the Presidency of the National Christian Association. Until his death on December 20, 1925, Charles Blanchard remained active as President of Wheaton College as well as continuing to lecture and write.The forty three year Presidency of Blanchard was a time of many changes at the College, as well as in the nation. The total College enrollment at the beginning of his administration was 216, all but twenty nine of whom were enrolled in the preparatory department. Slowly, the Collegiate Department grew until it was larger than the Academy in the 1910s.As enrollment increased, so did the need for a financially sound base for the institution. In 1898, Blanchard traveled to visit eastern donors in an effort to raise the school's endowment from $50,000 to $150,000. As a result of increased endowment, a faculty salary schedule and retirement program were established and Wheaton emerged in the early 1900s as a fiscally stable institution. In 1900, the College's net worth was $208,937. In 1905, that figure had increased to $266,678 and by 1918, to $528,638.Several College buildings were erected during the Blanchard years. Construction of the first section of the east wing of Blanchard Hall (then called the Main Building) was completed in 1890. In the same year, an observatory was brought to the campus. In 1895, the Ladies' Building (now Williston Hall) was built. The Industrial Building (now Schell Hall) was constructed in 1898, followed by the Gymnasium (now Adams Hall) in 1899. In 1924, a year before Blanchard's death, Pierce Chapel was built with the intention of being used by both the College Church of Christ and the College.Wheaton College entered the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 1913. Membership was granted dependent upon the separation of the Academy from the College and this took place in 1914. The inaugural summer session took place in 1916, and departments of study were established the next year.Wheaton College's official doctrinal position was adopted during the Blanchard Administration, arising in part from the Fundamentalist Modernist controversy. At a meeting of the World's Christian Fundamentals Association in 1919, Blanchard helped produce a nine point statement which was accepted, with slight modifications, as Wheaton's Statement of Faith in 1926.The year 1890 marked the beginning of Wheaton College's informal athletic program. Tennis matches and an all school, inter class track and field event began that year. Nine years later organized basketball was added to the College's athletic program. With membership in the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1920, other sports were added to the College's formal athletic program.Among other extra curricular activities established during Blanchard's tenure was the publication of the Record, beginning in 1890. Blanchard served as its editor until 1900, when responsibility for the paper was transferred from the faculty to the student body. The faculty's approval of establishing a Student Council in 1921 provided the opportunity for student expression in Wheaton's policy making process. This was seen in 1922, with the first issue of the Tower, and in 1923, with the first organized Homecoming Weekend.Further information on the life of Charles Blanchard can be found in President Blanchard's Autobiography, published in 1915. The Life of Charles Blanchard, by his wife, Frances, repeats much of the material in the autobiography, but adds some items. A more recent biographical treatment can be found in Cy Hulse's "The Shaping of a Fundamentalist: A Case Study of Charles Blanchard" (MA Thesis, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1977). Thomas Askew's 1969 dissertation, "The Liberal Arts College Encounters Change: A Comparative Study of Education at Knox and Wheaton Colleges, 1837 1925," gives a scholarly treatment of the Blanchard administration. Other material can be found in Herbert Moule's unpublished history of Wheaton College, W. Wyeth Willard's Fire on the Prairie, and Paul M. Bechtel's Wheaton College: A Heritage Remembered.


10 boxes

4.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged by series with folder level control.

Charles Albert Blanchard Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Wheaton College Archives Repository

501 College Ave.
Wheaton IL 60187-5593 USA