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GACA Collection 387. Carlson, Edgar Magnus. Collection of Edgar Carlson, 1891-1992: Overview

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Collection Description

Carlson, Edgar Magnus.  Collection of Edgar Carlson, 1891-1992.  GACA Collection 387.

The Edgar Carlson collection contains correspondence, writings, addresses, speeches, sermons, committee materials, financial materials, certificates and awards.  Carlson graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1930, returned to teach from 1937-42, and served as President from 1944-68.

Biographical Note

Edgar Magnus Carlson was born in Amery, Wisconsin on 12 July 1908.  He received a bachelor’s degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1930 and a divinity degree from Augustana Theological Seminary in 1933.  He was ordained on 18 June 1933 at Bethel Church in Chicago, Illinois.  Subsequently, he began his ministerial career at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Carlson began teaching in the Department of Christianity at Gustavus in 1937.  He moved to Augustana Theological Seminary in Rock Island, Illinois in 1942 and taught there for two years.  In 1944 Carlson returned to Gustavus as the new president, a post he held until 1968.  He also continued his education during this time with graduate work at the University of Minnesota from 1934-37 and at the University of Chicago during 1938-40.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1944 and his Doctorate of Divinity from Augustana Theological Seminary in 1962.

The Gustavus campus underwent extensive remodeling and building projects throughout the 1950s-60s.  Carlson helped to begin the Nobel Conference, a multi-day science conference open to the public that still exists today.  In addition to his efforts on campus, Carlson received the Order of the North Star from the King of Sweden during 1956.

Higher education was very important to Carlson.  This can be seen in his many writings and speeches, as well as his involvement in various higher education organizations.  In 1968, Carlson resigned his presidency to serve as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC), an organization he helped found.  The MPCC is a group of private liberal arts colleges in Minnesota that hold the same idea of making sure the liberal arts thrive within the state.  Over the years, they have raised funds to support private colleges and for student research grants.

Beyond local and regional activities, Carlson served on many national and international organizations, including the National Commission on the Humanities, which would lead to legislation that created the National Endowment for the Humanities.  He also held membership in the Theological Commission of the Lutheran World Federation and on commissions of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

In 1934 he married Ebba Edquist, daughter of Gustavus professor Joshua Edquist, and they had three children, David, Samuel, and Joanna.  Ebba passed away on 2 April 1986, and Edgar passed away on 9 April 1992.

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