Margaret Olmsted Papers

MSS 12
1 linear foot (2 boxes)


Olmsted, Margaret, 1894-1994.




There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Access points:

Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.)--Faculty--Personal and professional papers.
Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.)--Students.
Women college teachers--Illinois.
Women college students--Illinois.

Finding aid prepared by:

Rebecca Hopman, 2009.


Augustana College Special Collections
Thomas Tredway Library
639 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois 61201

Acquisition Information
Historical Note
Scope and Content
System of Arrangement
Related Collections
Container List


Provenance of materials unknown.



Margaret Olmsted was born on February 7, 1894 in Orange City, Iowa.  Her parents were Robert Ward Olmsted and Jennie Ernst Fahnestock Olmsted. She attended Rock Island High School, Rock Island, Illinois, and graduated in 1911. Margaret then attended Augustana College from 1911 until 1915, and was voted president of her class.  She was also the valedictorian of her graduating class (Dr. Conrad Bergendoff, later president of Augustana College, was the salutatorian).  She earned a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1916, and took graduate classes at the University of Iowa and the University of Chicago. After finishing her studies, she taught English and History for three years at high schools in Viola, Illinois (1916-17) and East Moline, Illinois (1917-19).

Margaret Olmsted joined the Augustana faculty in 1921. She was among one of the earliest female professors at the school. In 1937, she was named Associate Professor of Latin and Mathematics. She was known for her love of teaching, and often stressed the importance of studying foreign languages. After 46 years of teaching, she retired in 1967. That same year, she was named Professor Emeritus of Classics. Her connection to Augustana continued when she was named to the Augustana Alumni Association Board of Directors in the 1970s.

She was a member of several professional associations during her life, such as the Rock Island-Moline Branch of the American Association of University Women, the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, the Delta Kappa Gamma Society (an honorary society for women educators), the Mathematical Association of America, and Phi Beta Kappa. Margaret was also an active member of the Rock Island League of Women Voters. Along with her father, Robert W. Olmsted, she was a devoted member of Broadway Presbyterian Church.

For most of her life, Margaret lived in Rock Island, Illinois, together with her father and sister Jeannette on 330 19th Street in her later years.  She passed away on October 26, 1994 in Rock Island at the age of 100.

Margaret had three younger siblings:  Elizabeth (Mrs. Eugene Youngert), Robert E., and Jeannette.  All four attended Augustana College under the encouragement of their father, and the three sisters completed their undergraduate degrees there. As adults, Elizabeth married Eugene Youngert and moved with him to Rhode Island.  Robert E. Olmsted was the General Agent for Rock Island of the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company of Newark, New Jersey.  Jeannette Olmsted was employed by the Royal Neighbors of America, also in Rock Island.

Robert Ward Olmsted, Margaret’s father, was a successful lawyer in Iowa and Illinois. He was born on May 6, 1868 on a farm in Edgington Township, Rock Island County.  His parents were Robert Bruce Olmsted, who was descended from the original Puritan settlers of Hartford, Connecticut, and Mary Matilda Linn Olmsted.  He attended Iowa State College from 1887-1890, and received his B.S. upon graduating.  He was married to Jennie Ernst Fahnestock, the mother of his children, on August 25, 1892. Jennie died in 1911, and Olmsted remarried on August 3, 1928 to Mary E. Sala, who died in 1931.



The Margaret Olmsted papers include textbooks, gradebooks, personal books, bulletins, magazines, and pamphlets belonging to Margaret Olmsted and the Olmsted family. The materials pertain mostly to Margaret Olmsted’s years as a student and professor at Augustana College, as well as from her life as a Rock Island, Illinois resident. Additional materials belonged to her father and siblings.



The collection is arranged into the following series:
Series I. Margaret Olmsted, 1914-1993
Series II. Olmsted Family, 1902-1950






*Indicates items removed to SpecColl book collection.

Series I. Margaret Olmsted Papers, 1914-1993

Student at Augustana College

Textbooks inscribed by Margaret Olmsted during her years as a student, 1911-1915.

*Cohen, Abraham. An Elementary Treatise on Differential Equations. Boston: D.C. Heath & Co, 1906.

*Davis, Ellery William. The Calculus. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1912.

*Fine, Henry Burchard, and Henry Dallas Thompson. Coordinate Geometry. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1911.

*Sonnenschein, Edward A. T. Macci Plauti: Rudens. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1901.

*White, John Williams. The First Greek Book. Boston: Ginn & Company, 1896.

*Bradley, Henry. The Making of English. London: The MacMillan Company, 1907.

Powers, George W., ed.  Handy Dictionary of Prose Quotations. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1901. Given by Margie and Ruth (possibly classmates) on the occasion of Margaret’s graduation, 1915.

Augustana Observer: Commencement 1915 May 1915, Vol. XIII. No.5. Includes “A Liberal Education” by Margaret Olmsted in the year of her graduation.

Augustana College Bulletin, 1978.

Augustana College Magazine, Winter 1993.

Professor at Augustana College

Gradebooks for Math and Latin courses taught by Margaret Olmsted, 1921-1948.

Gradebook I, 1921-23

Gradebook II, 1924-30

Gradebook IV, 1932-35

Gradebook V, 1935-39

Gradebook VI, 1938-41

Gradebook VII, 1940-43

Gradebook X, 1945-47

Gradebook XI, 1946-48

Certificate naming M. Olmsted as a Professor Emeritus of Augustana College, awarded on April 30, 1967.

Resident of Rock Island, Illinois

Margaret Olmsted’s copy of the Rock Island High School Golden Anniversary Celebration booklet, June 10, 1961.

Margaret Olmsted’s copy of The Book of Common Worship. Philadelphia: The Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 1951. A gift from Broadway Presbyterian Church to Margaret Olmsted for being a member of its “Fifty-Year Club” on April 18, 1956.

Series II. Olmsted Family, 1902-1950

Box 2

Robert Ward Olmsted, Margaret Olmsted’s father

“Books Read by R. W. Olmsted since September 1932, dated February 28, 1936.” 176 books listed.

Biographies of the Scoharies: Class of 1890: As compiled for the 50th anniversary June 7 to 10 – 1940. Ames, Iowa: Printing Department, Iowa State College, 1940. Dated October 22, 1940. Includes a biography and photographs of Robert W. Olmsted.

Robert W. Olmstead’s copy of The Common Book of Worship. Philadelphia: The Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 1947. A gift from Broadway Presbyterian Church to Robert Olmsted for being a member of the church for over fifty years on May 2, 1950.

Olmsted Family Members

Day Book, May 1902-?. Inscribed by (Robert) Ward, Robert, and Elizabeth Olmsted. Includes history notes, French vocabulary words, and a journal of a trip to New York, July 4-18, 1921. The journal and vocabulary are probably written by Margaret’s sister Elizabeth. History notes in another hand.

The Ladies of Fulton Illinois. The Favorite Cookery. Fulton, IL: Register Print, 1896. Likely owned by one of the Olmsted women. Contains handwritten recipes from women in Rock Island and Davenport.

Augustana College Alumni Bulletin (Summer 1970) Addressed to Jeanette Olmsted.

Miscellaneous Books belonging to the Olmsted family.

*The Poetical Works and Letters of Robert Burns. Glasgow: John S. Marr.

*The Poetical Works of Lord Byron, Complete. London: John Childs and Son, 1867.

*The Poetical Works of Milton, Young, Gray, Beattie, and Collins. Philadelphia: Grigg & Elliot, 1847.

*Rapid-Fire English : French : German: With Pronunciation: For the use of soldiers and sailors and the men and women of the Army and Navy Medical Corps. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1917.

*Who’s Who in Chicago and Illinois: 40th Anniversary Edition. Chicago: The A.N. Marquis Company, 1945. Includes entries for Margaret and her father, R.W. Olmsted, on page 674.

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