Luther College Archives

Search the Archives

Contact Information

Hayley Jackson
College Archivist

Preus Library 310
Upper Floor
Luther College
700 College Drive

The Archives is open for research from 1:00-4:30, Monday-Friday, and by appointment.

Phone: 563-387-1805

The Luther College Archives collects, organizes, preserves, promotes, and makes available records of enduring historical, legal, administrative, and fiscal value. We strive to offer quality collections that are easily accessible and that offer a transparent snapshot of our history.

We collect materials that relate to the history of the college, including official records from Luther College’s departments and offices, faculty, students, alumni, and other supporters of the college; items from individuals and organizations that relate to the Norwegian Synod and Synod related churches and organizations associated with the founding of Luther College; and materials from organizations with a relationship to Lutheranism in the United States.

What’s the difference between an Archives and a Library?

Libraries can generally be defined as collections of books or other published materials that are not unique. Patrons can access materials at the library, via the Internet, or by checking them out for personal use. Libraries exist to make their collections available to the people they serve.

Archives also exist to make their collections available to people, but differ from libraries in the types of materials they hold and the way materials are accessed and arranged.

  • Types of Materials: Archives can hold both published and unpublished materials, and those materials can be in any format. Some examples are manuscripts, letters, photographs, moving image and sound materials, artwork, books, diaries, artifacts, and the digital equivalents of all of these things. Materials in the Archives are often unique, specialized, or rare objects, meaning very few of them exist in the world, or they are the only ones of their kind.
  • Access to Materials: Since materials in archival collections are unique, the archivists in charge of caring for those materials strive to preserve them for use today and for future generations of researchers. Archival materials are not open to the public to browse and have specific guidelines for how people find and handle materials. For example, checking out a book from a library causes it to eventually wear out, and then the library buys a new copy of the same book. Checking out the handwritten diary of Elizabeth Koren from the Luther College Archives would cause the same physical deterioration, but the diary is irreplaceable.
  • Arrangement of Materials: Each single book in a library is usually cataloged and placed on the shelf with a call number. In the Archives, physical items are grouped into folders, which are put into boxes. In some cases, folders may have 100 or more items in them. The folder title is what is captured in our catalog, not the items. The intellectual arrangement of materials in the Archives is based on record groups and then series or individual collections.

Finding Resources and Materials in the Luther College Archives

The first resource that you can use to find materials in the Luther College Archives is our catalog called Nordic.

Like the library’s catalog, Nordic will allow you to search the Archives’ holdings by keyword, subject, creator, etc. The search results will tell you whether or not we have materials relating to that keyword. It’s important to understand that, like a library catalog, this will give you details and descriptions (called a Finding Aid) of the holdings, not actual digitized copies of the holdings. (See an example of a Finding Aid.)

If you prefer a one-on-one approach, or if you’re having trouble finding materials online, please contact the Archives staff. Often, we can direct you to some known collections or can even help refine your research topic.

Accessing Archival Materials

Once you have found materials that you’re interested in researching, the next step is to visit the Archives Reading Room, located on the upper floor of Preus Library. Scheduling an appointment is a great way to ensure that your boxes and materials are ready as soon as you walk in the door. You can schedule an appointment by contacting staff directly (, or by requesting a time through our catalog Nordic.

Restricted Access and Stipulations on Use

In certain instances, materials may be inaccessible, or may have stipulations on use and access. Often the finding aid will tell you whether or not there are any restrictions on use or access. Some reasons why there may be limited access are:

  • Copyright: A copyright holder has the right to control the use, reproduction, and distribution of those works, as well as the ability to benefit from works monetarily and otherwise. Archives must abide by these laws, which can be complex. Even if the Archives physically owns a particular document, we may not own the copyright. It’s important that you have a conversation with the archivist if you want to reproduce materials, especially for commercial purposes.
  • Restrictions: Restrictions come in many varieties, but they are generally legally related, classified, sensitive, or mandated by the government (i.e., FERPA).
  • Unprocessed collections: Some collections may contain materials that the archival staff has received, but has not yet examined, identified, and organized for researchers to use. The work that archivists do in preparing materials for research use is called processing and often, materials need to be processed before the public can use them. In some cases, the archives staff can make certain arrangements, so please contact us if you think this pertains to you.
  • Material condition: Sometimes, materials may simply be too fragile to be handled by researchers. Or, some materials may be in an obsolete format that cannot be readily accessed. In these cases, the archives staff can talk about alternatives with you.

Researching in the Reading Room

Here are some tips for your visit to research in the Reading room:

  • You can make copies using our copy machine at 10¢ a page.
  • You can also scan PDFs and JPGs and email them to yourself for free. These reproduction and use fees help us recover the cost of materials and time to duplicate our materials for your own use. Please contact Archives staff at or 563-387-1805 for further information.
  • If you have questions, ask the staff. Often, answers to questions like “What does this letterhead mean?” or “Who was O. W. Qualley?” can give you a lot of extra information that you may not have previously known.
  • Understand how long it may take for you to go through archival materials. In some cases, going through a medium-sized box may take as little as 30 minutes or as long as two hours. Also, be sure to note that Archives staff are only open from 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Arriving at 4 p.m. to look through 3 boxes may not be the best plan.
  • Bide your time. Don’t rush through research because often you can miss things or handle materials roughly. The Archives will hold your boxes if you need to extend your research.
  • Take thorough citations. While you are working, make sure to take full citations for the materials you are viewing, including any unique identification assigned to the materials by the archives such as the call number, collection title, etc. If you need to go back and reference something in those materials again, or if another researcher is later trying to track your sources from a published work, this will help the archival staff locate the materials.
  • Point out corrections Mistakes or omissions sometimes occur in finding aids, websites, and descriptions of materials. If you, the researcher, notice some of these errors or are an expert in a particular area and can fill in some information gaps, point those out to the archival staff. If possible, cite another authoritative source to support your corrections.

Luther College History

“Easily the finest building on the campus is the new Koren Library, which was dedicated on the 14th of October, 1921.” Luther College Through Sixty Years, 1861-1921

Koren, Luther College’s first freestanding library building, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Over its lifetime, Koren has served as a library, a museum, a chapel, a performance space, and a nursing lab. Today Koren is a place for students and professors to learn and work in community.

In honor of Koren’s centenary, Hayley Jackson, Luther College Archivist, and Dr. Destiny Crider, Anthropology Lab and Collections Manager and the Instructor and Program Director for Museum Studies, are pleased to present Koren 100, a series of themed newsletters on the history, stories, and memories of Koren collected by Luther students, faculty, and staff. The first PDF newsletter will be released on this site during Homecoming 2021, with subsequent editions published throughout the year. We look forward to sharing its history with you.


Koren 100 began as an Introduction to Museum Studies class exercise in Fall 2019. Using documents and photos from the College Archives, students prepared a digital historical timeline exhibit of Koren, from its library beginnings to housing the social sciences and everything in between.

A year later, Professor Emerita Jacqueline Wilkie recruited students in her Public History class to conduct a series of Zoom-recorded interviews with people who worked, studied, and played in Koren over the decades. With the help of the Alumni and Development Office, over 60 people volunteered to be interviewed. When the Public History course ended, student workers in the Anthropology Lab and College Archives continued the task of collecting stories about the Luther community’s experiences in the building throughout its long history. These interviews, along with archival research, form the basis of the Koren 100 newsletters.

It has always been a place of connection: between friends and classmates, students and professors, and now, students and alumni. Whether you studied in the library, listened to a music recital, attended a political science class, or preserved artifacts in the Anthropology Lab, Koren remains a significant part of the Luther experience.

Do you have a Koren story? We want to interview you! Contact the Archives at or at (563) 387-1805.

Archives Use Policy

Every action in the Luther College Archives revolves around preserving the Luther College memory, which means patrons accessing any of the original materials in the collection must use special care and abide by a few basic rules.

  • Research in the Reading Room: Materials are brought to the researcher to use in the Archives reading room on the third floor of Preus Library. Materials may not leave the room.
  • Store personal items: Brief cases, backpacks and portfolios must be stored in the researchers coat rack in the Archives Reading Room.
  • No food, drink, or gum: This is designed to help preserve the collections. Spills can irreparably damage documents or require costly repairs by a conservator. The presence of food may also attract insects or rodents that infest archival materials.
  • Use of pencil only: This is a preservation practice in case accidental marks are made on archival materials; pencil can be erased while pen marks cannot. Electrical outlets are supplied for laptop computers.
  • Reproduction: A photocopier/scanner is available in the Archives Reading Room. It is up to the discretion of the Archives staff to decide what may and may not be safely reproduced. If your research will result in a publication, please see the Archivist for the proper citation giving credit to the Luther College Archives. Before publication please consult the Archivist about any copyright restrictions.
  • Use of white gloves: In most cases clean hands free of lotions or perfumes are sufficient for handling materials. Gloves may be necessary for handling objects or photographs in order to protect the materials from the oils and other residues left by hands.
  • Handling materials in order: It is important that materials remain in the same order in a box. Misfiling or changes in order can lead the archival staff to assume that items are missing and inconvenience future researchers. For this reason, it is encouraged that patrons only work on one open box at a time and be mindful of the correct order of folders.

Archives Collection Development Policy

The Luther College Archives will solicit textual and non-textual materials of potential enduring historical value from:

  • Luther College’s departments and offices, faculty, student, alumni and other supporters of the college
  • Individuals and organizations with a relationship to the Norwegian Synod, and Synod related churches and organizations associated with the founding of Luther College
  • Organizations with a relationship to Lutheranism in the United States

Luther College Records Management and Confidentional Destruction Policy
Appendix A: Records Retention Schedule
Appendix B: Luther College Records Transfer Form

Preserving the history of Luther College includes the memories and stories of its community. As such, the Luther College Archives gladly welcomes donations of material from faculty, staff, alumni, students, and friends of the College documenting their experience of Luther College. Examples of materials we are interested in collecting include, but are not limited to:

  • Diaries, correspondence, notebooks, postcards
  • Photographs, photograph albums, and scrapbooks
  • Ticket stubs, programs, flyers, and other ephemeral material
  • Film/sound recordings of campus or campus-related events
  • Select professional papers of faculty, staff, and alumni
  • Records relating to student and campus organizations (e.g. Greek organizations, Black Student Union, Student Congregation)
  • Records relating to Luther faculty/alumni participation in the Norwegian Synod

In general, we are not in need of additional copies of The Chips, The Pioneer, histories of the College, or other widely-circulated campus publications; these items are well-represented in our collections. Artifacts and textiles are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Those interested in donating books, historical or otherwise, to Preus Library should contact Research and Instruction Librarian Andrea Beckendorf. Please be aware that we do not perform monetary appraisals of material. Donors desiring one should seek the services of a qualified professional appraiser.

Part of the donation process includes meeting with donors to discuss and document the history of the material before it enters the collection. As such, please do not leave material at the Archives Reading Room or Preus Library without first making arrangements with the College Archivist.

If you have material you are interested in donating or have any questions, please contact the College Archivist.

Search the Archives

Contact Information

Hayley Jackson
College Archivist

Preus Library 310
Upper Floor
Luther College
700 College Drive

The Archives is open for research from 1:00-4:30, Monday-Friday, and by appointment.

Phone: 563-387-1805