Winds of great change

The period beginning prior to World War II and extending through the time of the civil rights movement was a time of great change for the seminary. The school purchased four houses on Boyer Street and Gowen Avenue for living arrangements. The building of a campus home for the registrar, near the Refectory, in 1959 was the first new campus construction since the library opened in 1908. Also in 1959, Professor Theodore Tappert’s translation of the Book of Concord, developed with other noteworthy editors including Jaroslav Pelikan, was published. Inspection of campus buildings found their condition to be inadequate, and an inspection by the Association of Theological Schools criticized the seminary for lacking a gymnasium, auditorium, or union building, and called student housing “antiquated in appointment.” The Ladies Auxiliary of the seminary grew to 17,000 members, and contributed $250,000 in badly need funds to the seminary. The library received some improvements. To broaden the student experience in preparation for ministry, the seminary introduced field work assignments. In 1948, the seminary board found “no reason to oppose” the enrollment of women as students. O. Frederick Nolde, director of Graduate Studies and teacher of Christian Education, became an internationally regarded diplomat, assisting greatly in negotiation of a truce to end the Korean War. Before World War II, the seminary frowned upon having married students on campus. By 1950, one-half of the student body included married seminarians. The annual salary of a professor, $1,800 from 1864 to 1913, rose to $4,358 in 1948. Professor John H. P. Reumann, who taught New Testament and Greek, became a major figure in the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogues. Professors Doberstein and Heinecken were other professors of note during this period. Watch and listen as Registrar Emeritus the late John Kaufmann, Nancy Nolde, David Little, and alumni from the time serve as guides for this historic period.

The seminary campus has changed significantly over the years. Dr. Kaufmann shared photographs of the campus in the mid-20th century, and you’ll find some in the John Kaufmann Collection.