This collection contains the papers of Jonathan Baldwin Turner, an educator, agriculturalist, and theologian. The collection includes correspondence, sermons, legal papers, agricultural papers, and documents concerning Turner's involvement with Illinois Industrial University, which would become the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Jonathan Baldwin Turner was born December 5, 1805 in Templeton, Massachusetts. From 1829 to 1833, he studied at Yale University, and after completing his studies, he joined the faculty at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, teaching Latin and Greek. He married Rhodolphia S. Kibbe on October 22, 1835. He continued to teach at Illinois College until disagreements with school officials over his anti-slavery views and health problems forced him to resign in 1847.
He then turned his focus to agriculture and educational activism, including the establishment of Illinois's first teacher's college. He continuously campaigned for the establishment of land grant colleges, and his efforts eventually led to the establishment of Illinois Industrial University in 1867, which later became the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After the University was established, Turner shifted his focus to theology. He published theological works throughout his lifetime, including Mormonism in All Ages (1842), The Three Great Races of Men (1861), and The Christ Word Versus the Church Word (1895). He died January 10, 1899 in Jacksonville.
The collection contains correspondence and papers documenting Jonathan Baldwin Turner's life and career. The correspondence includes exchanges with prominent contemporaries such as Ezra Cornell, Stephen A. Douglas, Frederick Douglass, Governor Augustus C. French, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, John A. Logan, Owen Lovejoy, Justin S. Morrill, Charles Sumner, Henry P. Tappan, Lyman Trumbull, Richard Yates, and the first two regents of the University of Illinois, John M. Gregory and Selim H. Peabody. Other papers include legislative bills and committee reports, circulars, and newspaper clippings, many of which deal with Turner's efforts toward industrial education. In addition, the collection includes biographical materials on Turner, sermons and lectures, agricultural papers, legal documents, and documents from Turner's time at Yale University.
The Library acquired the collection in two parts. Mary Turner Carriel, daughter of Jonathan Baldwin Turner, donated some materials to the Library in 1912. Her son, Reverend Charles A. Carriel, donated the remainder of the collection in 1939.