• Identification1989.006
  • TitleA guide to the Armour Mission Records, 1845-1934
  • PublisherPaul V. Galvin Library, University Archives & Special Collection
  • LanguageEnglish
  • RepositoryPaul V. Galvin Library, University Archives & Special Collection Paul V. Galvin Library 35 W. 33rd Street Chicago, IL 60616 URL: http://archives.iit.edu Email: archives@iit.edu Phone: 312-567-6840
  • OriginationArmour Mission
  • Date1845-1934
  • Physical Description7 Boxes

The Armour Mission building stood at the south-east corner of 33rd St. and Federal St. on Chicago’s South Side. It was built through the generosity of brothers Joseph and Philip D. Armour. The Mission was conceived of as a Sunday School for neighborhood children, but quickly became much more than that. A non-sectarian Christian congregation pastored by Rev. John D. McCord, the Mission offered Sunday services and Bible classes, held prayer meetings, and sponsored societies for adults and children. The children’s Sunday School, which opened in 1874 as Plymouth Mission, was located at 31st and State Streets until the Armour Mission building was erected in 1886. The Mission building was designed by Burnham & Root, one of Chicago’s most prestigious architectural firms. It was in this building that the Mission expanded its role to become a Kindergarten and trade school of sorts for its young members. Dr. J. H. Hollister was the school’s superintendent, but Julia Beveridge (who later became the librarian at Armour Institute of Technology, one of Illinois Institute of Technology’s two predecessor schools) was the driving force behind its identity and curriculum while Malvina Ogden Armour (known as Belle or Madam Armour), was its chief supporter. Growing rapidly, Armour Mission Sunday School expanded from some 500 members in 1886 to 2,200 students, taught by 130 teachers, in 1895. It is said that by 1905, total aggregate attendance had exceeded 1,000,000 students. Around the perimeter of the block bounded by 33rd, Dearborn, 34th, and Federal Streets, Philip D. Armour built 213 apartments which he rented to employees of Armour & Co., his family’s meat packing business located a mile southwest. Income from Armour Flats supplemented the original endowment created by Joseph and Philip to provide the operational funds for Armour Mission. The Armour Mission programs included a library, the monthly publication “Armour Mission Visitor,” a music department, holiday celebrations, a summer camp, and a boys’ military brigade and girls’ drill corps. Sponsored lectures, concerts, and exhibitions offered cultural programming to congregation members, and a medical dispensary served some 13,000 patients in 1894. As such, the Armour Mission evolved into one of Chicago’s 19th century settlement houses, filling a role on the city’s south side like Jane Addams’ Hull-House did on the west side. After the Armour Mission Sunday School, Kindergarten, and congregation were dissolved, the Mission building continued to function as the auditorium for Armour Institute of Technology which had been built across the street from Armour Mission. Later, the Mission building served as the Student Union for Illinois Institute of Technology (which had acquired the AIT properties) until 1962 when it was razed for the construction of the IIT main campus library. Researched from material found in the collection and written by Catherine Bruck, IIT University Archivist, 9/8/2003.

Records of Armour Mission, Chicago, IL, 1886-1934. The collection includes records concerning church congregation membership and programs, official publications, financial records, real estate materials, and artifacts as detailed below.

Collection

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Armour Mission Records, Paul V. Galvin Library, University Archives & Special Collection

  • NamesArmour, Joseph --Armour Sr., Philip D. --Armour, Malvina --Beveridge, Julia
  • SubjectReal Estate --Settlement Houses --Sunday Schools --Church Congregations
  • Geographic CoverageBronzeville --Chicago