Immanuel Lutheran College Collection

1890-1948 [bulk 1890-1905]. 1 box (14 folders), 66 items.MSS. COLL. #23

NOTE:  The numbers cited in parentheses, e.g. 1:5, refer the researcher to the Series#:Folder# in which that name/topic will be found.


The Immanuel Lutheran College Collection contains handwritten and printed materials that chronicle the events leading to the establishment in Greensboro of this Lutheran college for black teachers and ministers. The collection consists primarily of the contents of at least one cornerstone from the college’s main building, which was constructed in 1905. The architectural design of the building resembled a style prevalent in Germany at the time and was unusual for the south.

Arrangement: This collection is organized into five series by material type. The series are: Unpublished Writings, 1894-1911; Printed Material, 1890-1911, 1948; Photographic Material, 1904-1905, ca. 1940; Newspapers, 1905, 1911; and Map, 1905.

Provenance:  This collection was donated to the museum in 1983 by Mrs. Yolanda Leacraft, wife of Mr. Paul Leacraft, president of the Immanuel Lutheran College Alumni. It was later assigned the accession number 1984.23.3.

Processing: This collection was processed by Kathleen T. Egan, and the finding aid was completed on May 8, 1984.


The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church in North America was organized in April 1847. By 1880, missions to blacks in Louisiana and North Carolina had been added to the other mission fields supported by the Synod. The Rev. Nils J. Bakke began his ministry in 1880 with an assignment to the New Orleans mission where he was dismayed by the living conditions of the blacks. He became convinced the only way out of poverty for blacks was through education, but he also felt the rapid growth of public schools would lead to a demoralized society. During the late 1880s and early 1900s, Bakke fought against movements within the Synod and society to return blacks to Africa or place them on reservations. He believed they could lead ethical and productive lives if given a chance.

In 1896, the Rev. John C. Schmidt sent his first black candidate, Stuart Doswell, to Concordia Seminary in Springfield, Illinois. Ten more black students were sent between 1896 and 1902, but it became difficult to recruit seminarians because of the harsh northern weather, great distance from home, expensive travel and exclusive use of German in classes.

In 1898, John C. Schmidt wrote to the Rev. R. Kretsehmar, Secretary of the Mission Board of the Missouri Synod, requesting the establishment of a southern college for black ministers and teachers. During the following five years, Bakke and Schmidt, who had been appointed “The Agitation” by church leaders, wrote a series of periodical articles, letters and broadcasts to members of the Missouri Synod advocating the support of a college. In spite of indifference to the missions and strong opposition by members of the New Orleans mission, who wanted support of their own college, Immanuel Lutheran College was established in 1903, in Concord, North Carolina. It offered a high school and two year college curriculum for black men, and shortly thereafter, began admitting women. Bakke became the first president of the college, serving in that capacity from 1903 to 1910.

In 1905, Immanuel Lutheran College moved to a thirteen acre tract, donated by Garland Daniel, in the northeast section of Greensboro known as the Jonesboro Community. The cornerstone for the new college building, constructed of North Carolina granite, was laid on September 17, 1905, with construction, supervised by Schmidt, completed in 1907. During the life of the college this building underwent extensive renovations and was eventually used as the college Administration Building. A three year theological curriculum was added to the college in 1906. Several Immanuel Lutheran College professors, including Professor Fredrich Wahlers, established the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in 1907 and held services at Smith Memorial Chapel of the Old First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro. The congregation was formally organized on October 15, 1909, and moved to its present location in 1930.

By 1906, demand for a parochial primary school led to the formation of classes in a room of the girl’s dormitory on East Market Street. Evan W. Reid began teaching in the primary school in 1908; a year later, Marmaduke N. Carter joined the faculty, which taught six grades and a “chart class.” As the number of children in the primary school grew, a decision was made to erect a Primary School building on the Immanuel Lutheran College campus. Ground was broken on April 10, 1911, the cornerstone laid on April 23, 1911, and completion expected by June of 1911. The brick building was financed through the contributions of one hundred thousand school children of the Synodal Conference, and was eventually torn down to make room for a dormitory for women.

Immanuel Lutheran College closed June 30, 1961, largely because of changing attitudes toward segregated schools as well as financial and equipment problems. At that time, the campus consisted of a high school/junior college building, the administration building, a gym and dormitory complex that had been constructed in the 1950s, and an old Army building that was used as a dormitory and dining hall. The property was purchased by North Carolina A. & T. State University in the early 1960s. When the Immanuel Lutheran College buildings were torn down, the 1905 cornerstone and contents were surrendered to the Immanuel Lutheran College Alumni. Currently, the 1905 cornerstone, college bell and several stone class benches are on the property of Grace Lutheran Church, at 1315 East Washington Street, Greensboro. The organ from the College Chapel now belongs to the Ebenezer Lutheran Church, at 1900 Walker Avenue, Greensboro. Ownership of student records is maintained by the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church, and they are held by Concordia College, 1804 Green Street, Selma, Alabama 36701.

The Rev. Nils J. Bakke and the Rev. John C. Schmidt were instrumental in the establishment of Immanuel Lutheran College. They successfully argued before church leaders and members of the Synod, secured land, funds and materials for the college building, and provided leadership for the school.

The Rev. Nils J. Bakke was born in Drontheim, Norway on September 8, 1853, and came to United States in 1866 at age 13. Ordained on November 7, 1880, by Rev. J.F. Buenger in St. Louis, Missouri, Rev. Bakke was sent to New Orleans and spent his entire ministry with the Missouri Synod. An outspoken supporter of parochial education, including the education of black men and women, he also believed in the supremacy of whites. Bakke began missionary work in North Carolina in 1891, gradually increasing his involvement with the educational aspects of evangelism. He served as President of Immanuel Lutheran College from 1903 to 1910, and became Director of Black Missions for the Missouri Synod in 1911. He died on May 8, 1921, after a long career of service to his church.

The Rev. John C. Schmidt was born on July 29, 1870. Although his birthplace is recorded as New York City, he wrote of his early childhood in Southern Germany in the “Schwarzwald” (Black Forest) region along the Rhine. Ordained by Bakke in Greensboro on July 29, 1894, he served with the Missouri and Wisconsin Synods as a missionary. In 1894, Rev. Schmidt began with a small congregation in a southwest section of Greensboro known as the Warnersville Community. On February 3, 1897, his Evangelical Lutheran Grace Church was officially formed. In 1928, the Evangelical Lutheran Grace Church joined with the Luther Memorial Church, which was associated with Immanuel Lutheran College, and became the present Grace Lutheran Church. During the early years of the college, Schmidt assisted Bakke, supervising construction of the main building and helping with students whenever church duties permitted. His writings appeared in Synod Reports as well as Lutheran periodicals, urging support of the Greensboro mission. Although he was personally against co-education, he accepted the reality of financial support for only one school, and wrote of the necessity to admit women. Like Bakke, he experienced rejection by the white community for his work among the blacks in Greensboro. Schmidt died January 4, 1949.


The Immanuel Lutheran College Collection consists of the founding papers of a small parochial college established for blacks at the turn of the century. It provides an opportunity to look at a small school and its unusual architecture.

The Rev. Nils J. Bakke and the Rev. John C. Schmidt were among a growing number of Americans who felt abolition had left blacks poor, starving, and uneducated. While they both held the prevailing belief in white supremacy, they were adamant about the necessity of education for blacks if their situation was ever to improve. Schmidt in particular submitted many articles to church periodicals stressing the importance of educating black men and women. Students of black education will find his handwritten works and published articles helpful in understanding the reasoning behind the drive to provide education through a small parochial college.

The handwritten works by Schmidt provide an intimate account of the difficulties encountered in convincing a cautious church leadership to provide funding for a mission field that was considered less important than other missions such as those in Africa and the Far East. The indifference toward mission work felt by members of the Missouri Synod and the competition between the mission fields in Louisiana and North Carolina are also evident in the writings.

Church periodicals, in English and German, provide students of missionary work among blacks with detailed information about activities and the problems involved with ministers and professors who cared deeply for their flock yet did not wish to become totally involved with their culture and lives. The periodicals and Synod Reports that were set aside by Schmidt for inclusion in the cornerstone contain the only photograph in the collection of Bakke, Schmidt, and the other members of the North Carolina mission to the blacks (Mission Dove, March 1900), as well as a detailed description of the main building of the college (Mission Dove, August 1905 and Appendix A).

This collection is limited in that it consists of only the contents of the 1905 cornerstone and a few items from 1909-1911 relating to a primary school building erected at the college site. The 1905 tin cornerstone box and a piece of granite, with “1905” painted in red, are held by the Collections Department of the Greensboro Historical Museum.

While this collection has gaps because it deals only with the early years of the college, supplemental materials are available. Greensboro, North Carolina: The County Seat of Guilford, by Ethel Stephens Arnett (U.N.C. Press, 1955), contains a photo of the college’s main building taken about 1955 and a list of college presidents from 1903 to 1955. Roses and Thorns, by Richard C. Dickinson (Concordia Publishing House, 1977), a history of the Black Lutheran Ministry in the Missouri Synod, is recommended by the Concordia Historical Institute as a good source of information concerning the work done in North Carolina. Mission in the Making, by F. Dean Lueking (Concordia Publishing House, 1964), contains information about the black missions and the ministry of Bakke.

Mr. Eric Nau, son of Dr. Henry Nau, president of Immanuel Lutheran College from 1925 to 1949, provided information about the Primary School, based on his recollections of growing up on the campus. Further information was provided by Mr. Paul Leacraft.

The Concordia Historical Institute, 801 De Mun Ave., St. Louis, Missouri, 63105, currently holds information regarding the missionary aspect of the college. Concordia College, 1804 Green St., Selma, Alabama, 36701, holds the students’ academic records.


1. Unpublished Writings.  4 folders (5 items).  1894-1905, 1909-1911.

The unpublished writings series consists of the “History of Immanuel Lutheran College,” in English, which was read at the laying of the cornerstone on September 17, 1905; a handwritten letter in German dated 1898, requesting permission of the Missouri Synod to establish a school for blacks in North Carolina; and a handwritten copy of a speech in English, dated 1903, advocating admission of girls to the new Immanuel Lutheran College at Concord, North Carolina (1:1). A broadcast printed in German, with handwritten notations in English, from the Synod Conference of 1902 is included in the “History of Immanuel Lutheran College”: this lists reasons for establishing the college. The above items were all written by John C. Schmidt. Also included in the series is a typed, one-page “History of the Primary Department of Immanuel Lutheran College,” signed by Nils J. Bakke, and a one-page notation, typed and handwritten by Bakke, listing the date of groundbreaking and the names of builders and architect for the Primary School building (1:2). These two items are on Immanuel Lutheran College letterhead and are undated. Two handwritten rolls from the Primary School, undated, list names of teachers Evan W. Reid and Marmaduke N. Carter, and students from the “chart class” to third grade (1:3). Also included is a 2 x 3 inch card signed by tinsmith Sidney W. Carter, dated April 23, 1911 (1:4).

2. Printed Material.  9 folders (47 items).  1890-1905, 1909-1911, 1948. 

Included in this series are materials from Immanuel Lutheran College’s 1905 cornerstone: a clothbound Bible and a clothbound Catechism, both published in 1903 (2:1); interchurch periodicals in English and German, dating from 1900-1905 (2:3-4; see Appendix B for a list of titles and issues); four Synod reports in German, dated 1899-1905 (2:2); and two published speeches in English, by Nils J. Bakke (2:5). Also included is a 1910 copy of the “Unaltered Augsburg Confession” (2:7); a Catechism, probably from 1911, that is paper-covered and stapled; interchurch period­icals in German and English, dated 1911 (2:3-4; see Appendix B for a list of titles and issues); a catalogue from Immanuel Lutheran College for the 1909-1910 school year (2:6); and a program for a play given at the Immanuel Lutheran College High School in 1948 (2:8).

3. Photographic Material.  1 folder (3 items).  1904-1905, circa 1940.

This series includes black-and-white photographs of two professors at Immanuel Lutheran College: Prof. Fred Walhers, who joined the staff in 1904, and Prof. Martin Lochner, who started a year later. The third black­-and-white photograph, taken about 1940, shows an interracial group of 71 men and 5 women, possibly a combined reunion at Immanuel Lutheran College.

4. Newspapers.  10 items.  1905, 1911.

This series includes complete sections of 1905 newspapers that contain articles or notices concerning the laying of the Immanuel Lutheran College cornerstone on the Greensboro campus. Three newspapers are from 1911; only one of these mentions a cornerstone ceremony held at Immanuel Lutheran College. The newspapers have subscription tags for either Schmidt or Bakke.

Newspapers included in the series:
The Daily Record               1905, 1911
The Greensboro Daily News         1911
The Greensboro Telegram            1905
The Charlotte Daily Observer       1905

5. Map.  1 item.  1905.

This blueprint by the Garland Daniel Realty & Investment Co. of Greensboro, N.C., is a development plan showing a street layout with the location of Immanuel Lutheran College. Mr. Garland Daniel donated part of the Immanuel Lutheran College site.


11Unpublished Writings, John C. Schmidt, 1898-1905
2Unpublished Writings, Nils J. Bakke, 1911
3Unpublished Writings, Rolls, 1910-1911
4Unpublished Writings, Tinsmith card, 1911
21Printed Material, Books, 1903, 1911
2Printed Material, Synod Reports, 1899-1905
3Printed Material, Periodicals, English, 1905, 1911
4Printed Material, Periodicals, German, 1900-1905, 1911
5Printed Material, Published Speeches, 1890, 1894
6Printed Material, Catalogue, 1909-1910
7Printed Material, Pamphlet, 1910
8Printed Material, Program, 1948
9Printed Material, Fragments
31Photographic Material, Prints, 1905, ca. 1940
4--Newspapers, 1905, 1911
5--Map, 1905

Appendix A

 Mission Dove, Vol. 27 No. 8, August 1905
“The Immanuel College,” by J. C. Schmidt

“ … of the Synod Conference:

with the able German architect A. L. Schlosser

On 13 June (1905) the contract to build the Negro College in Greensboro, N.C. at the cost of $10,466.58 was consummated. Construction is now already under way. It is to be 83 ft. long and 60 ft. wide. The building will be done in brick with a four foot high granite footing on the front side. The window casings (sills) will be done in decorative cement in the German manner and the roof (flat and with lead covering in the middle) will be covered largely with slate. All parts of the basement will be in stone donated to us by a local businessman. The kitchen and cafeteria will be located here and the floor will be laid with cement. The main entrance to the building, with ascending cement steps, is 21 ft. wide and is protected against rain, ice and snow by a protruding bay window on the second floor. The entrance hall is twelve feet wide. On the first floor there are four classrooms, each 18 x 24 feet, and five attractive rooms which can serve as an apartment for a professor or as study rooms for pupils. Three roomy study rooms are located on the second floor, to which a 5½ ft. staircase leads, as well as two large sleeping bays that offer sufficient room for about 50 students. And finally, on the north side of the second floor there are two classrooms beside each other that can be converted into an auditorium by means of moveable rolling doors. It may be of special interest to the readers of the “Mission Dove” to know that the wide street on which the college is being built will be named “Luther Avenue” in recognition of us, and that another fine avenue nearby was named “Obermeyer Avenue,” in honor of the chairman of the esteemed Mission to the Negro Commission – entirely without his knowledge or agreeing to it.

“As indicated, in God’s name, the building has already begun. We now ask our dear fellow Christians to pray for the blessed continuance and the happy completion of this so needed institution. And who wouldn’t happily give a contribution to the Immanuel College, from which, if God be willing, loyal and able Negro teachers and preachers will come to show the way to Heaven to the many poor, lost souls of their people.”

Appendix B: Periodicals

LocationTitle (Publisher)YearMonth/DayVolumeIssue
2:2Synodal=Bericht [Synod Report] (St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House)1899May 29
2:2Synodal=Bericht1901March 1
2:3The Lutheran Witness (Pittsburg: American Lutheran Publication Board)1911March 16306
2:3Our Church Record (Hickory, N.C.)1905January81
Our Church Record1905September89
2:3The Lutheran Pioneer (St. Louis, Mo.: The Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America)1905September279
2:3The Lutheran Pioneer1911April334
2:3The Lutheran Herald (Decorah, Iowa: The Synod of the Norwegian Ev. Luth. Church of America)1911March 23612
2:4Der Lutheraner (St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House)1905September 126119
2:4Der Lutheraner1911April 18678
2:4Zeuge und Anzeiger [Witness & Notice] (West Roxbury, Mass.: Martin Luther Orphans' Home)1900July 815
2:4Zeuge und Anzeiger1905September 10615
2:4Missions-Taube [Mission Dove] (St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House)1900March223