Skip to main content

D.K. Pearsons collection

Identifier: MC 81


Daniel Kimball Pearsons was a successful businessman who, in 1889, donated $100,000 to Beloit College, the first of many donations to the college and to many small, independent colleges throughout the nation. By the time of his death nearly 23 years later, Pearsons had given more than $5 million to higher education, $500,000 of which went to Beloit College. These donations allowed the college to, among other things, build a new science building, named Pearsons Hall of Science, and which now houses the Jeffris-Wood Campus Center.

This collection gathers some of Pearsons' correspondence with members of the college, mostly in reference to development and building the new science hall, as well as articles and other publications referencing Pearsons and his relationship with Beloit.


  • 1890-1912, 1943-1993

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research; however, certain materials are very fragile and require Archives staff for handling, or use may be restricted altogether.

Biographical / Historical

Excerpt from: The 1892 Codex.

No one who was present will ever forget that culminating moment of the memorable Commencement of 1889, when it was disclosed that the friend who had pledged to Beloit College the munificent gift of $100,000 was Dr. D. K. Pearsons, of Chicago, who was seated upon the platform beside the President. As he rose to his feet amid a tempest of applause, in which the oldest and most sedate seemed vying with the youngest and most enthusiastic, all were impressed with the strong personality of their newly-discovered friend. The erect form, the keen and flashing dark eye, the nervous directness of speech, the emotion quivering along the edges of his wit, all spoke the man of strong, deep nature. To know him personally is but to have these impressions confirmed and enriched. The Codex is glad to be able to present his portrait herewith, with a brief outline of his career.

Daniel Kimball Pearsons was born in Bradford, Vt., April 14, 1820, of staunch Green Mountain stock. His father was a farmer. His mother was of the Israel Putnam family, famed in Revolutionary annals. She was the mother of nine children, and, in old age, took a quiet pride in referring to the time when she sued to spin and weave the clothing for her entire family. Their son Daniel commenced teaching at sixteen years of age, and for five winters was monarch of the country school. He then studied for two years at Dartmouth College, and graduated in medicine at Woodstock. He practiced medicine successfully in the East for several years, but in 1857 the growing West so fired his enthusiasm that he removed to Illinois, where he soon settled in Chicago, and built up a very large loaning business. When hard times came, later, and values shrunk, his business sagacity was attested in the invariable soundness of the loans he had made.

In 1877 he retired from business (for others), his own large and growing property now demanding his whole attention. He was now the owner of extensive timber lands and numerous farms, and was investing largely in Chicago property. He was a Director of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce, of the Chicago City Railway Company, and other leading institutions. He had twice been elected Alderman from the First Ward by a union of the best citizens without regard to party. As Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Council, he performed a memorable service for the city, at a time when its credit was imperiled and disaster was imminent. He visited the bankers of the East and pledged his personal honor and fortune and the honor of the city that its debts would be paid. His word was believed, confidence was restored, and the city's indebtedness was paid, principal and interest, although the courts decided the old certificates of indebtedness void, so that the whole could have been repudiated.

Of late years, Dr. Pearsons has traveled extensively in the Old World and the New, and has given much thought to planning and carrying out extensive works of beneficence, the natural outcome of the quiet good deeds of many years. The magnificent Presbyterian Hospital of Chicago is a monument to his wisdom and energy, it being almost wholly due to his influence with others, supplemented by his own exertions and gifts.

In 1889, on leaving for a tour abroad, the Doctor suddenly discharged a quiverful of "Parthian Arrows," which woke up the whole country. One shot was aimed at Knox College, a gift of $50,000, resulting in quickened activity among all its friends. Another struck at Lake Forest, whose Trustees were struggling to meet large pledges to their President, and its $100,000 point turned their threatened failure into complete success. We all remember what enthusiasm and eager effort were aroused among us by the $100,000 he let fly at Beloit; and we are only beginning to see the wide-reaching blessings from that splendid act of strategic beneficence to our College.

In early manhood, Dr. Pearsons married Miss Marietta Chapin, a member of that large and distinguished family of Western Massachusetts to which our own honored ex-President belongs. She has been the beloved companion of all these stirring years of her husband's life, beautifully sharing in all his benefactions, into which her heart has been poured as freely as his.

Dr. Pearsons is a noble specimen of New England character of the strongest type, the granite foundation of our American civilization. Of large and sinewy frame, with keen, ever-searching mind; deeply reverent, but intolerant of shams; fearless in expressing his convictions; frugal; indomitable in purpose; glorying in hard work, quick to foresee what work will bring largest returns; a firm believer in Christian institutions, especially in Christian education of the most thorough sort; a friend of struggling merit always, but never helping anything that is not doing the utmost to help itself--his life is a tonic and blessing to young lives everywhere. May it be many long years before he ceases to be a young man himself!

Pearsons died on April 27, 1912.


0.21 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



This collection has been compiled over the years through separate accessions of various sizes from various offices and individuals, none of which has any accompanying documentation. The original order of the documents is unknown. The arrangement order presented here has been imposed by the College Archives staff.

Related Materials

Edward Dwight Eaton papers (MC 2)
Buildings and Properties collection (AC 24)
Beloit College Development records (AC 41)
D.K. Pearsons collection
Michelle Tom
May, 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Beloit College Archives and Special Collections Repository

700 College St.
Beloit WI 53511 USA