Dr. William Rainey Harper, first president of the University of Chicago, came up with many innovations in an attempt to widen the availability of higher education to students who would otherwise not be able to pursue it. In 1881, while teaching at Morgan Park Academy in Chicago, Dr. Harper enacted summer school classes, and then created "correspondence courses," whereby students would correspond by mail with the professor in lieu of attending classes in person. He also called for the creation of "junior colleges" to focus on the first two years of higher education, which would be a preparatory period devoted to general studies—the foundation from which to build knowledge in specialized areas when students attended universities.
In 1965, residents of the northwest suburbs of Chicago sought to replicate this vision in their own community, and the result was the creation of William Rainey Harper College, which opened in 1967. The William Rainey Harper Collection is intended to honor the life, intelligence, and ambition of Dr. Harper, and other members of his family, and to understand how those same traits are mirrored in the institution that bears his name.
The collection contains photographs, political cartoons, diplomas, honors of recognition, news clippings, and other memorabilia.
To read more about the life of Dr. Harper, please visit this online biography
produced by the Harper College Adjunct Faculty Archivist.