Iowa College was founded by the Iowa Band, eleven 1843 graduates of Andover Theological Seminary who came to Iowa to found Congregational churches and a college. A Board of Trustees was elected in 1846 and the first class met in 1848 in Davenport with one professor and two students. After ten years in Davenport, Iowa College merged with Grinnell University which had been founded by J. B. Grinnell and eleven others. The college was called Iowa College until the name was changed in 1909 to Grinnell College. It was a Christian college, a number of Congregational ministers were on the Board of Trustees, it received financial assistance from the Home Missionary Society, but the college has always been independent.
During the nineteenth century, the Board of Trustees maintained firm control over all aspects of the college, including curriculum, rules and regulations, student and faculty discipline, as well as finances and construction. The Board had four officers: President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Auditor, and several standing committees including Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Committee on Intstructors and Instruction. The Board of Trustees' officers were the college administrators with the President of the college also serving as President of the Board; there was no college president until 1865.
George Frederic Magoun 1865-1884
Samuel J. Buck, acting President 1884-1887
George Augustus Gates 1887-1900
John H. T. Main, acting 1900-1902
Dan Freeman Bradley 1902-1905
John H. T. Main, acting 1905-1906, President 1906-1931
John Scholte Nollen 1931-1940
Samuel Nowell Stevens 1940-1954
Rupert Adam Hawk, acting 1954-1955
Howard Rothmann Bowen 1955-1964
James Hartmann Stauss, acting 1964-1965
Glenn Leggett 1965-1975
A. Richard Turner 1975-1979
George Drake 1979-1991
Pamela Ferguson 1991-1997
Charles Duke, acting 1997-1998
Russell K. Osgood 1998-2010
Raynard S. Kington 2010-
Faculty committees in the late 1890s gradually took over some of the routine academic and administrative matters.
Iowa College offered a college course with classical and scientific programs leading to Bachelor of Arts and BAchelor of Science degrees; a Ladies' Course offering a diploma; a Preparatory Department (after 1871 called Iowa College Academy); and a Normal and English course, a secondary-school teacher training program which was transferred to the College course in 1879. Each of these departments was headed by a Principal, who was also a faculty member. Until the 1880s the Academy had a larger enrollment than the College; the Academy ceased in 1911.
Since many college records were destroyed in the 1882 cyclone, this record group together with minutes of faculty meetings (RG-F), student newspapers, college catalogs, and information such as financial statement, trustees, buildings, curriculum cyclone, discipline, endowment, faculty, Iowa Band, Iowa College at Davenport, Iowa College Academy, names of individual, buildings, departments, and the various student organizations constitute the major source of information on the first seventy years of the college.