Items in the Treasurer's Office record group span the years 1847-1980. Records from the 19th Century (Series 1 and 4) consist chiefly of ledgers, journals, and donor lists.
Prior to 1887 the college had no office force, and a Trustee served as Treasurer (without salary). Several local bankers serves as treasurers and auditors during the Gates' administration, The first salaried Treasurer was H. H. Robbins.
H. H. Robbins, 1869, was Secretary and Treasurer of Iowa College 1887-1906, and was a Trustee 1890-1906. Prior to 1887 he was a Congregational minister and a railroad engineer. He was the son of Iowa Band Member A. B. Robbins, who was the first president of the Board.
H. W. Somers, 1882, became Business Manager and Secretary in 1907. His duties were to direct the financial and accounting system of the college and to direct fund raising. In 1916 his title changed to Secretary and Treasurer, and Louis Pyelps became Business Manager. Somers served until 1919.
Louis Phelps came as Business Manager in 1916, was college Treasurer 1919-1949. He was Secretary of the Grinnell College Foundation 1917-ca. 1954. Prior to coming to Grinnell he was a construction engineer, and was involved in construction of the women’s quadrangle 1914-1916.
Rupert Hawk, Treasurer, 1949-1956
Charles Kaufman served as Accountant 1942-1956 and as Treasurer 1956-1966
Donald Lambie, Treasurer, 1966-1972
Robert Anderson, Treasurer, 1972-1988
Waldo Walker, Treasurer, 1988-1990
David Clay, Treasurer, 1990-
From about 1913 to 1940 the college expanded its facilities dramatically. Louis Phelps, College Treasurer 1919-1949, and Grinnell College Foundation Secretary 1917-ca.1954, preserved most of the papers which expedited the financing and construction of the dormitories and a few other buildings during this period. Series 3-5 are from his files.
Providing on-campus dormitores for students was a new phenomenon in the early part of the twentieth century, and financing their construction called for considerable ingenuity. Grinnell was a pioneer in this, and other colleges and universities studied the example. One officer of the General Education Board, a Rockefeller philanthropy which contributed significantly to the College, praised President Main for pioneering in the social and educational experiment; another officer feared that war or pestilence might create serious problems in dormitories (RG-T, Ser. 3.4, folder 2, Phelps to Arnett, 6/22/30),. The College Trustees created Grinnell College Foundation to raise the funds. Details of their activities are in Series 6 and Series 3.4 of this record group. Dormitory construction records are in Series 4.
Part of the financing involved owning, managing, and selling farms and other real estate. Correspondence between Mr. Phelps and the farmers and farm managers (in series 5) records on a day-to-day basis the myriad problems farmers faced during the 1920s and 30s in the midwest. Text books describe the agricultural situation, but this correspondence brings home what it was like to live and cope with falling market prices, crop diseases, pernicious weather patterns, and personal tragedies. The correspondence includes such details as building and equipment repairs; livestock sales; plant and animal diseases; when to castrate the pigs; planting windbreaks; inability to get crops to market because of muddy roads; government farm assistance programs; trial planiting of the new hybrid corn seed. Phelps was involved in all of these details.