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New book celebrates 150-year history of North Central College

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A new book celebrates the 150-year history of North Central College.

The book, “North Central College 150 Years. A Promising Start.” traces the College’s history from the founders who established the school in 1861 through present day.

The book’s three principal authors are Kimberly Butler, College archivist; Ann Durkin Keating, Dr. C. Frederick Toenniges Professor of History at the College; and Pierre Lebeau, professor of history emeritus. Additionally, the book features contributions written and researched by current North Central College students and recent graduates.

“We have a rich and deep history,” Keating says. “I was surprised at the number of people whose contributions have made the College what it is today.”

The book tells the story of the College through an examination of the school’s nine presidential administrations, an approach that mirrors the format of a five-part documentary series, “A Promising Start,” produced in conjunction with Naperville Community Television (NCTV17).

Keating is author or coeditor of such books as “The Encyclopedia of Chicago” and “Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide.” She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago.

Lebeau served on North Central College’s faculty from 1966 through 1999, teaching history and foreign languages. His positions included assistant vice president of academic affairs, assistant dean of faculty and foreign studies coordinator. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Ohio State University.

Butler has worked at the College since 1999 and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree from George Mason University.

Keating and Lebeau collaborated on the 1995 book, “A Shared History,” which was published to commemorate the 125th anniversary of North Central College’s move to Naperville from Plainfield in 1870. The College started as Plainfield College in 1861.

“North Central College 150 Years. A Promising Start.” continues the College’s legacy of marking milestones with publications. In 1961, in honor of the College’s centennial, then-history professor Clarence Roberts wrote, “A Century of Liberal Education,” a definitive chronicle of the College’s first 100 years.

Students who majored in history and other areas of study made important contributions to the book, Keating says. Their writing and research was conducted for various pursuits, including the College’s Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research, as an Honors Thesis for the College Scholars Honors Program or as a capstone experience—a research course completed by seniors pursuing an undergraduate degree in history at North Central.

“The students’ work adds an important dimension to the book because their research is all about topics they chose, such as the College’s ban on dancing or students’ involvement in the Civil Rights Movement,” Keating says.

Other recent Sesquicentennial publications include an expanded edition of “A College in Its Community” featuring photographs by Chuck Savage and books about the history of athletics at the College and the A.A. Smith House.

The public is invited to hear the four authors—Butler, Keating, Lebeau and Savage—discuss their books from 2 to 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11 at Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth St., followed by a book-signing from 3 to 3:30 p.m. The four also will sign books on Saturday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the College Bookstore, 100 E. Jefferson Ave. and from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Homecoming Tent near Championship Plaza in front of Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium, 455 S. Brainard St. Each book will be available for $39.95 hardcover, $29.95 softcover at the North Central College Bookstore.

North Central College’s yearlong Sesquicentennial Celebration commemorates the 150th anniversary of the first day of classes on Nov. 11, 1861, and the College’s role in helping to shape the fabric of the Naperville community. Throughout its history, North Central College alumni have distinguished themselves as leaders in the arts, sciences, business, education and many other areas of study. Numerous Sesquicentennial events and projects are planned throughout 2011 and into 2012. Visit to learn more.

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