Chellis N. Evanson

Professor and Founder of the Luther College News Service (1919-1966)

Early Years

Chellis N. Evanson was born in 1896.

Years at Luther

Chellis N. Evanson (1896-1983) Chellis Evanson entered Luther College in 1911, and he graduated in 1918. After spending a year in the United States Navy, he returned to Luther as a history professor in 1919. The same year, Evanson became head of the history department after the death of Knut Gjerset. His teaching style was described as unorthodox and unstructured and he was remembered as a lively and controversial history teacher.

The Luther College News Service was organized by Evanson in 1928 and he worked as the director of the college news bureau from 1928 to 1950. While serving in World War II, Evanson wrote a newsletter called Scuttlebutt, which eventually reached all servicemen from Luther College. He also corresponded with Luther College servicemen, which resulted in the 707 letters found in Evanson's personal papers. He served on the Luther faculty until his retirement in 1966 and was Dean of Men from 1925-1929. Along with David T. Nelson, Evanson raised money for a war memorial installed in the Main Building at Luther.

After Luther

Evanson remained a strong supporter of the Navy and an active member of the American Legion all of his life. He was also active in the Decorah community as a member of the local school board and many other organizations.

Evanson retired from teaching in 1966. He and his wife, Ruth, continued to live in Decorah. He died in 1983 at the age of 87.

Other Information

The Chellis Evanson papers collection is principally the outstanding collection of correspondence between Evanson and Luther College servicemen and others during the Second World War. The collection is organized into 9 series: Series I. World War II Letter Project Files; Series II. Issues of "Scuttlebutt"; Series III. Letters and Military Records of Luther College Servicemen; Series IV. War Memorial Plaque Files; Series V. Programs and Pamphlets; Series VI. 1936 Concert Band Tour Files and Scrapbooks; Series VII. 50th Reunion of the 1914 Concert Band Tour Files; Series VIII. Biographical Files; Series IX. World War II Memorabilia.

Resources in the Luther College Archives

  • Chellis N. Evanson -- collected materials
  • Luther College 1861-1961 by David T. Nelson
  • Stability and Change: Luther College in Its Second Century by Leigh D. Jordahl and Harris E. Kaasa

Works Referenced

  • Jordahl, Leigh D. and Harris E. Kaasa, Stability and Change: Luther College in Its Second Century, Luther College Press, Decorah: 1986.
  • Nelson, David T., Luther College 1861-1961, Luther College Press, Decorah: 1961.
  • Papers of Chellis Evanson
  • Who's Who in the Luther College Archives

External Resources