For over 100 years, Lindenwood had been using 1827 as its founding year. The origins of this began when a book, Reminiscences of Lindenwood College (1920), used the date. In recent years it has been determined that the date was incorrect. Through the Sibleys’ correspondence and journal entries, there is undeniable evidence that they moved to St. Charles in 1828; built the first structure in 1829; and began the school in 1832.
At the Board of Trustees meeting on February 10, 2023, the Board reviewed significant information and voted to approve the change of Lindenwood’s founding year.
Frequently Asked Questions
When will this change take place?
The University will begin utilizing 1832 as its founding year immediately. Over the next 18 months, the University will update all materials, media, and assets with a target completion of July 1, 2024. Historical documents will not be impacted in this revision and archived material indicating 1827 as Lindenwood’s founding year will continue to be preserved appropriately.
Who led the research and investigative process?
A team of historians collaborated to review historic materials and primary sources. The team included:
- Paul Huffman, University Archivist
- Dr. Michael Leary, AVP Research and Compliance
- Dr. Jeffrey Smith, Senior Professor, History
- Dr. Kris Smith, Professor, History
- Dr. Marcus Smith, Assistant Professor, History
- Amy Haake, Archivist and Chief Administrative Officer, St. Charles County Historical Society
What was the process?
The process began in November 2021 when the University Archivist identified the possibility of historical inaccuracy. A thorough review was executed over the next 12 months and involved faculty members, the St. Charles Historical Society, and the University Archivist.
The exploration culminated in presentations to the University’s Executive Cabinet and Board of Trustees.
What evidence exists to prove the correct founding year is 1832?
Primary sources include approximately 30 letters to or from Mary Sibley, and a diary entry from August 1833 in which Mary says she started the school in 1832.
Many letters from the first half of 1827 place George Sibley on the Santa Fe Trail, and a letter from October 27, 1827, places George at Fort Osage. The first letter addressed to George Sibley in St. Charles is dated April 1, 1828.
George Sibley’s diary entry states that the Sibleys moved to St. Charles on May 6, 1828, and began clearing land at Lindenwood in January 1829.
Why did Lindenwood use 1827?
There was a Lindenwood history book in 1921, titled The Newer Lindenwood, written by a Lindenwood professor, Lucinda de Leftwich Templin. The professor appreciated the prestige that came with long-standing history and wanted to give Lindenwood an early start date.
Lindenwood began planning in 1926, for a centennial celebration in 1927.
A second Lindenwood history book was written for the centennial, Reminiscences of Lindenwood College used the 1827 date, and everyone has stuck with it ever since.
Does this change Lindenwood's place as one of oldest university west of the Mississippi?
Lindenwood University is the third-oldest university west of the Mississippi. Saint Louis University is the oldest, founded in 1818 followed by Centenary College of Louisiana, founded in 1825.