Chicago Public Library
Special Collections and Preservation Division
Neighborhood History Research Collection
Louis Andrew Bowman was born November 23, 1872, in Rock Island, Illinois, the son of Edward H. and Ellen Sinnett Bowman. His mother died when he was two and Louis was raised by his maternal grandmother. When his father remarried four years later, he returned to his father and stepmother’s care. Bowman attended the Rock Island public schools at which tome he became involved with the Rock Island YMCA.
In 1890, the 17 year old Bowman left Rock Island and settled in Chicago, where he continued with YMCA work and attended the Moody Bible Institute. Bowman’s early career included positions as an office manager for an insurance agency and a bank collector. In 1900, he received a degree from Kent College of Law in Chicago and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1901.
Throughout the 1890s, Bowman was a member of Third Presbyterian Church on Chicago’s West Side. It was there that he married Ella Mae Colville on June 28, 1898. Colville was born in London, Ontario on May 3, 1873, the daughter of C.R. Colville. She was a resident of Chicago at the time of her marriage and met Bowman at a church retreat at Conference Point near Williams Bay, Wisconsin.
By 1900, the Bowmans had settled in Oak Park, Illinois, where they joined that community’s First Presbyterian Church and became involved in many aspects of the church’s ministry. Bowman continued to practice law and volunteer with the YMCA. In the early 1900s he became involved with the work of the Olivet Institute, a rescue mission on Chicago’s Near North Side, and eventually became Olivet’s treasurer. Norman Burton Barr (1868-1943), Olivet’s director, arranged for the private adoption in 1915 of the Bowmans’ only child, Norman Barr Bowman. In recognition of his years with Olivet, the chapel at the Norman Barr Camp on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin was named in Bowman’s honor in 1949.
In addition to church and charitable work,
Bowman was active in the Sons of the American Revolution, serving in various
capacities for 35 years. He was a member of the Union League Club, the
Hamilton Club and the American Protective League. From 1919 to 1928 he
was the non-resident treasurer of the Yenching Women’s College in China.
These and many other volunteer efforts were made possible by Bowman’s long
and successful business career, including positions as: Instructor at Chicago
Business Law School (1906-1907); Assistant Manager of the Chicago Trust
Company (1912-1915); Assistant Attorney for the Northern
Trust Company (1915-1922); Vice President and Trust Officer for the American Trust and Safe Deposit Company (1922-1929); Trust Officer, National Builders Bank (1930-1941); and Department Manager and Assistant Trust Officer for the Central National Bank (1941 until retirement).
Louis Bowman authored several pamphlets and one monograph, The Life of Isaac E. Brown (1927). Of his many accomplishments, he was perhaps most proud of his work which culminated in the words "Under God" being added to the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag.
Ellen Colville Bowman died in Oak Park, Illinois on August 23, 1947. Louis Bowman continued to live in Oak Park until his death on January 26, 1959. Both were cremated and their ashes scattered on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin at the Norman Barr Camp.
This collection is divided into two series: General and Writings. The Writings series includes radio addresses, speeches, articles, pamphlets, and his book. Other material in the collection documents Bowman’s varied volunteer service. In addition, there are two Oversized items, as well as a run of Photographs. All materials are listed below. Related material is found in the papers of Norman B. Barr, director of Olivet Institute. See the Barr Collection (NBB) Finding Aid for more information.
The materials in this collection were given to the Chicago Public Library by Louis Bowman’s only son, Norman Barr Bowman in January and April, 1991.
Collection processed by Galen Wilson, May
Updated by Andrea Telli, May 2001
The Louis Andrew Bowman Papers are available to the public for research in the Special Collections and Preservation Division Reading Room on the 9th floor of the Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center, 400 South State Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60605. The collection does not circulate, although photocopy and photoreproduction services are available depending upon the condition of the original materials. First time patrons to Special Collections must present photo identification and complete a Reader Registration Form. Telephone inquiries on this collection and other Special Collections holdings can be directed to 312-747-4875.
Series I: General
1. Bowman, Ella Mae Colville (1873-1947). Obituary, funeral address
2. Correspondence. Norman Burton Barr to Norman Barr Bowman: TLS (typed letter, signed), October 21, 1915, March 10, 1922.
3. Correspondence. Charles Doak Lowry to Norman Barr Bowman: TLS, May 26, 1959.
4. First Presbyterian Church of Oak Park 75th anniversary, 1958.
5. Lewis, Marvin H. The Man Who Made Us (Privately printed, c. 1925): presentation copy to Louis A. Bowman.
6. Memo. Norman B. Bowman regarding the disposition of Louis A. Bowman’s ashes, November 23, 1957.
7. Newspaper clippings.
8. Olivet Summer Assembly Association. Membership certificate, December 25,1908.
9. Pledge of Allegiance "Under God" clause. Correspondence, affadavit, clippings, DAR certificate, 1955.
10. Sons of the American Revolution. George Washington birthday dinner dance program, 1934.
Series II: Writings
11. "The Beautiful in Human Life."
WGN Radio, July 29, 1939.
12. Bible Study: The Means of the Highest Culture. (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1903).
13. The Christian Philosophy of Life. n.d.
14. Dogs Are Not Dumb. n.d.
15. "The Laymen’s First Chicago Campaign," in The Bible Today, n.d.
16. Norman B. Barr Camp Chapel dedication address, August 7, 1949.
17. Order to Come Out of Chaos. n.d.
18. Outline of paper to the Irving Literacy Club of Chicago, February 3, 1956.
19. "Outlines in the Gospel of John for Individual and Class Use," n.d.
20. Prayer at service of Oak Park First Presbyterian, August 19,1951.
21. "The Soul of America." WGN Radio, n.d.
22. The Strength of Manhood. Chicago: Young Men’s Presbyterian Union, 1905.
23. The Strength of Manhood. Correspondence from readers, 1905-1906.
24. "Suggested Plan to make the 18th Amendment Effective," n.d.
25. "The 23rd Psalm as interpreted. . .by [a] Shepherd," n.d.
SEE ALSO: Louis A. Bowman. The Life Issac
Eddy Brown. New York: Association Press, 1926. Special Collections book
collection, call number BV1085.B7B6
Young Men’s Christian Association
26. Cards and flyers for Bowman’s "Jokes" lectures; 1903, 1905, n.d.
27. Volunteer certificate to Louis A. Bowman, 1953.
1. Membership Certificate to Louis
A. Bowman for the Sons of the American Revolution,
Illinois Society, May 15, 1903.
2. Certificate to Louis A. Bowman as attorney and counselor, from the Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C., May 31, 1949.
1.1 Louis A. Bowman, carte d’visite, c.
1876, Rock Island, IL
1.2 Louis A. Bowman, cabinet photo, c. 1882, Rock Island, IL
1.3 Louis A. Bowman, cabinet photo, c. 1884, Rock Island, IL (2)
1.4 Louis A. Bowman, cabinet photo, c. 1888, Chicago, IL (2)
1.5 Louis A. Bowman, cabinet photo, c. 1890, Macomb, IL
1.6 Louis A. Bowman, July 21, 1896, Chicago, IL
1.7 Louis A. Bowman, November 23, 1897, Chicago, IL
1.8 Louis A. Bowman, snapshot, c. 1950
1.9 Louis A. Bowman, head-and-shoulders studio portrait, c. 1950
1.10 Louis A. Bowman, three-quarters view studio portrait, c. 1950
1.11 YMCA workers group, c. 1895-1898: Louis A. Bowman, Frank Burd (?), Issac Eddy Brown (1849-1917), [?] Smith, A. M. Bruner, A. G. Copeland
1.12 YMCA Camp, 1898, Lake Geneva, WI
1.13 Olivet Institute, Norman Barr Camp, Bowman Chapel, interior
1.14 Louis A. Bowman with unidentified group of youths, 1890s
1.15 Postcard of Rock Island & Davenport ferry
1.16 Norman Barr Bowman (1915- ), c. 1918
The following photograph was received by the Special Collections Department in September 1992.
2.1 Louis A. Bowman, c. 1930, Chicago, IL