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MS - 097: Papers of Robert B. Fortenbaugh

Processed by: Christine Ameduri

November 2008

Download Finding Aid - Adobe PDF (79 K) 


Given to Musselman Library by Robert Fortenbaugh, son of Dr. Robert Burns Fortenbaugh.


Robert Burns Fortenbaugh was born in Harrisburg, PA on July 17, 1892 to James Penrose and Carrie Loy Fortenbaugh.   He graduated from Gettysburg College (then called Pennsylvania College) in 1913 with an A.B. in Classics. While a student, he served as Class Secretary during his sophomore year, was a member of various organizations and societies such as Phi Beta Kappa, Class Debating Team and College Orchestra, served on the Junior Prom Committee and participated in the Sophomore Play.

He graduated from the Gettysburg Theological Seminary in 1916, received an A.M. from Syracuse University in 1920 and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1926.  He served as a Lutheran clergyman in Syracuse and taught Sociology and History at Syracuse University between 1916 and 1923 before returning to Gettysburg as Acting Adeline Sager Professor of History from 1923 to 1926.

Three months after becoming head of the Department of History, Fortenbaugh organized the Historical Association of Gettysburg College.  Within three years the organization had raised enough funds to purchase about 350 books for the college library.  The association was renamed Kappa Epsilon Alpha in 1938, a year before it became a chapter of the national honorary society, Phi Alpha Theta.

In 1955, when it was clear that no new president had yet been chosen to succeed President Langsam, Fortenbaugh, along with three others, was appointed to serve on the Administrative Committee, (1955 - 1956).  Fortenbaugh occupied the president's office for several hours each day making routine decisions and the entire committee would meet for more important matters.

He married Lena Schweinberger of Syracuse on August 16, 1921 and had two children, Robert Behrendt, ('44) and Ruth Emma, ('50), and Ann ('57).  He wrote and published prodigiously on topics in American history.

Series Description

This collection is divided into six Series.  Series I: Correspondence, Sub-Series A: general correspondence, 1915 - 1959 & Sub-Series B: Pennsylvania Historical Association, 1932 - 1948, and 1958 - 1959; Series II: Manuscripts; Series III: Student Papers; Series IV: Sermons and Lectures; Series V: Scrapbook/Photo- Album, and Series VI: Miscellaneous. 

Scope and Content Notes

The Robert B. Fortenbaugh Papers consist mainly of material related to his professional careers as a Lutheran minister and professor of history.  Other than the two photo/scrapbooks, there are few materials related to his personal and family life.  One scrapbook contains mostly ephemera collected while a student at Gettysburg College, (1909 - 1913), and the second one contains material documenting his work as a minister in Syracuse, NY, between 1916 and 1920. Both scrapbooks contain numerous family and personal photos.

Series I, Sub-Series A consists of general correspondence relating to clubs, organizations and professional associations, church related business and correspondence with various universities.  There are also a number of letters from servicemen between 1944 and 1945.  Series I, Sub-Series B consists almost exclusively of correspondence between Fortenbaugh and the Pennsylvania Historical Association and a few other historical organizations.  Series II consists of papers and manuscripts written by Fortenbaugh, mostly about Pennsylvania, Adams County, education and Lutheran history.  Series III is a small series of papers written by students mostly about some aspect of the history of Gettysburg College, c. 1925.  Series IV consists of numbered, (but not dated), religious sermons and lectures written by Fortenbaugh, and Series V is comprised of the two photo/scrapbooks.  Series VI is an accretion of miscellaneous papers, photos, newspaper clippings, etc. received in 2007 after the initial gift which was received in 1991.

Download Finding Aid - Adobe PDF (79 K)