Augustana's first decade was a challenging one. When the college opened its doors in September 1860, it had 21 students and only one full-time faculty member. But Augustana remained ambitious despite its small size: only five days into their first term, the students organized a literary society, the Phrenokosmian Society, which would play an important role in the school's social life for decades to come. Challenges remained, however: by 1863, the lack of adequate space and money had led Augustana to move from Chicago to Paxton, Illinois. Enrollment fluctuated, especially during the Civil War years, as students left to join the army. Augustana also experienced its first change in leadership when Lars Paul Esbjörn returned to Sweden.

June 5, 1860
The Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod is founded during a meeting at Jefferson Prairie, Wisconsin. It consists of 36 Swedish and 13 Norwegian congregations. The constitution calls for adherence to the Augsburg Confession, a founding Reformation document, and says that "the Synod shall establish and maintain a theological seminary for the purpose of training pastors and teachers for our congregations."
original Augustana schoolhouse
September 1, 1860
Augustana College and Theological Seminary begins classes for the first time. Twenty-one students enroll. Classes take place in the schoolhouse of the Immanuel Church in Chicago. The college is under the direction of Lars Paul Esbjörn.
Augustana gets its first library, in the form of 5,000 books from the library of King Charles XV of Sweden. Topics include the history, religion, and culture of Scandinavia as well as French politics and history, a tribute to the French heritage of Charles XV's family.
September 1863
Augustana College begins the new school year in Paxton, Illinois, under the direction of Tufve Nilsson Hasselquist. The land in Paxton, located 100 miles south of Chicago, was purchased from the Illinois Central Railroad at $6.00 an acre, about half its value. The school building is not completed by the beginning of the term, so for a few weeks all students and faculty live in President Hasslequist's house.
The Illinois legislature grants Augustana a charter. The charter states that Augustana shall be located in the state of Illinois and that its board shall be authorized to grant degrees; it also provides guidelines on the governance of the school. The charter will be revised by the legislature in 1869.
second Augustana building in Paxton
Spring 1866
The number of college buildings doubles, as the college adds a building which houses a combination of library, lecture rooms, and student rooms. The first college building becomes a dormitory and dining hall.
Augustana realizes its initial plan of having three full-time professors, one for each language spoken at the college: Swedish, Norwegian, and English. These professors are Rev. August Weenas (Norwegian), Rev. Sidney L. Harkey (English), and President Hasselquist (Swedish).
View the Next Decade