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Knox College Library
Special Collections & Archives

2 E. South St.
Galesburg, IL 61401

Carl Sandburg Collection
Manuscript Collection

Biographical Notes: Charles August Sandburg (1878-1967), poet and author, was born in Galesburg to Swedish immigrants.  He served eight months of 1898 in the Spanish American War (Company C, 6th Illinois Voluntary Infantry) before attending Lombard College (1898-1902) in Galesburg, Illinois. He did not graduate, but later received honorary degrees from both Lombard College (1928, Doctorate of Literature) and Knox College (1928, Doctorate of Literature).

At Lombard College, Sandburg worked closely with Professor Philip Green Wright (1860-1934, professor of mathematics, economics and astronomy: 1892-1912).  Sandburg’s first volume of poetry was published on Wright’s basement press, Asgard Press, in 1904.  In 1907 Sandburg went to Milwaukee and became an organizer for the Wisconsin Social Democratic Party.  It was there that he met and married Paula (Lillian) Steichen, sister of photographer Edward Steichen.

The couple moved to Chicago, where Sandburg began work as a journalist and also wrote some of his best known early works: Chicago Poems, Cornhuskers, Rutabaga Stories, and the first two volumes of a biography of Abraham Lincoln.  Sandburg subsequently completed four more volumes of his Lincoln biography, as well as additional poetry and a novel.  His autobiography, Always the Young Strangers, recounts his Galesburg years.

Sandburg, his wife, and their three daughters moved to a farm in Flat Rock, North Carolina in 1945.  In 1939 Sandburg was honored with a Pulitzer Prize in history for his work Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, and again in 1951 for his poetry volume, Complete Poems.  Sandburg served as the Poet Laureate for Illinois from 1962-1967.

Scope Notes: The collection consists of correspondence to, from and about Sandburg, photographs, newspaper and magazine articles, tape scripts from radio broadcasts, galley proofs for novels, lectures and speeches given by Sandburg, and various other memorabilia.

This collection is supported by other manuscript collections at Knox College. Those collections are listed below:

  • Carl Sandburg/Gene Lovitz Collection (Mss 90)
  • Carl Sandburg/Donna Workman Collections (Mss 135)
  • Harry Hansen/Carl Sandburg Collection (Mss 167)
  • William Monson - Carl Sandburg Slide Collection (Mss 168)
  • Centenary Celebration Collection (Remote Storage/Archives Series Box #s 182, 183)

Collection range: 1898-1979
Collection size: 4.5 linear feet
Donors: various donors