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Victor O. Peterson

Professor of physics and chemistry, 1890-1905

(This series of Notable Faculty profiles was written in celebration Augustana's sesquicentennial in 2009.)

Victor Olof Peterson was born in Solberga, Skede parish, Sweden on Sept. 24, 1864. When he was three his family moved to America and settled near Stanton, Iowa. In 1881, when he was only 17, both of his parents died.

Peterson began working as a farm hand in 1882 and then began studies at Augustana College starting in January 1883. He graduated in 1889, and took a special course in chemistry at Harvard the following year.

Because of his expertise in the sciences, Peterson was called in 1890 to teach physics and chemistry at Augustana. After securing his teaching position, he married Jenny A. Lindeborg of Chicago in 1891 and together they had five children: Edith Alida Victoria, Harald Victor, Olof Reuben, Oliver Herbert, and Rolf Leonard. Peterson held his teaching position for 15 years.

Peterson resigned from Augustan in 1905 to work for the Rock Island Tropical Plantation Company, and was secretary of that corporation. After this commercial experience, Peterson began working as a real estate and insurance agent. He became head of the Chemistry Department of Huron College in South Dakota in 1920 and retired in 1928. One year later, Peterson died on Feb. 14, 1929.

Outside of academia, Peterson's interests were not limited to science. He was an active member of Grace English Lutheran Church of Rock Island and served as deacon there for many years. He served as chairman of the board of directors of the North Star Benefit Association. Politics, too, captivated Peterson, as he had often served as an election judge and participated in Republican conventions.