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IIT logo Lewis Annual (Illinois Institute of Technology)

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The Lewis Institute was a technical and professional college that served the greater Chicago area from 1896 to 1940. In 1940 it merged with Armour Institute of Technology to form the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).

 

The Lewis Institute was created by the bequest of Chicago businessman Allen Cleveland Lewis (1821-1877), who willed his estate to the creation of a school of higher learning open to all men and women regardless of finances or social standing. When Lewis Institute opened in 1896, it offered a high school (academy) program, a two-year degree and a four-year engineering degree.

 

By 1906 Lewis Institute expanded into three main areas of study: General Science, which included Domestic Arts, Liberal Arts, and Engineering and Mechanical Arts. In 1917 the school began offering a four-year bachelor's degree in Arts & Sciences in addition to Engineering. All of these programs, including Domestic Arts, focused on a practical professional education for both male and female students.

 

One of the requirements of Allen C. Lewis's will was that the college offer night classes for working adults; these began in 1896 as well, and are thought to be one of the first night college programs in the United States.

 

Lewis Institute had a diverse and active student body. In 1928 a survey showed students of fifty two different nationalities, including emigrants from Scandinavia, Eastern European nations, India, China, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Altogether, Lewis Institute educated over 100,000 Chicago residents, many first or second generation U. S. immigrants. Students' diverse backgrounds led to the creation of many cultural clubs and activities alongside more traditional college social life.

 

In 1940, after a decade of increasing financial and accreditation problems, Lewis Institute merged with the Armour Institute of Technology. The new expanded institution was named Illinois Institute of Technology.

 

The Lewis Annual collection includes yearbooks from the Lewis Institute from 1906-1940. The yearbooks document the academic and social life of the school. They include photographs and descriptions of faculty, students, clubs, societies, and athletics, as well as students' illustrations and literary contributions.

 

Contact Information:
University Archives and Special Collections
Paul V. Galvin Library
35 W. 33rd Street, Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 567-6840
archives@iit.edu

 
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