Louis Andrew Bowman Papers

Dates: 1876-1959
Size: .25 linear feet, 17 photographs, 2 oversize folders
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: 2009/03
Provenance: 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.
Access: No restrictions
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Louis Andrew Bowman Papers [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.
Processed by: Galen Wilson, May 1991.
Updated by Andrea Telli, May 2001

Biographical Note

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 2, 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 time he became involved with the Rock Island YMCA.

In 1890, 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 Bowman's’ 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, 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.

Scope and Content

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 Oversize 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.

Container List

Series 1: General

Box 1 Folder 1 Bowman, Ella Mae Colville (1873-1947). Obituary, funeral address
Box 1 Folder 2 Correspondence. Norman Burton Barr to Norman Barr Bowman: TLS (typed letter, signed), October 21, 1915, March 10, 1922.
Box 1 Folder 3 Correspondence. Charles Doak Lowry to Norman Barr Bowman: TLS, May 26, 1959.
Box 1 Folder 4 First Presbyterian Church of Oak Park 75th anniversary, 1958.
Box 1 Folder 5 Lewis, Marvin H. The Man Who Made Us (Privately printed, circa 1925): presentation copy to Louis A. Bowman.
Box 1 Folder 6 Memo. Norman B. Bowman regarding the disposition of Louis A. Bowman’s ashes, November 23, 1957.
Box 1 Folder 7 Newspaper clippings.
Box 1 Folder 8 Olivet Summer Assembly Association. Membership certificate, December 25, 1908.
Box 1 Folder 9 Pledge of Allegiance "Under God" clause. Correspondence, affidavit, clippings, DAR certificate, 1955.
Box 1 Folder 10 Sons of the American Revolution. George Washington birthday dinner dance program, 1934.

Series 2: Writings

Box 1 Folder 11 "The Beautiful in Human Life." WGN Radio, July 29, 1939.
Box 1 Folder 12 Bible Study: The Means of the Highest Culture. (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1903).
Box 1 Folder 13 The Christian Philosophy of Life. Undated
Box 1 Folder 14 Dogs Are Not Dumb. Undated
Box 1 Folder 15 "The Laymen’s First Chicago Campaign," in The Bible Today, undated
Box 1 Folder 16 Norman B. Barr Camp Chapel dedication address, August 7, 1949.
Box 1 Folder 17 Order to Come Out of Chaos. Undated
Box 1 Folder 18 Outline of paper to the Irving Literacy Club of Chicago, February 3, 1956.
Box 1 Folder 19 "Outlines in the Gospel of John for Individual and Class Use," undated
Box 1 Folder 20 Prayer at service of Oak Park First Presbyterian, August 19, 1951.
Box 1 Folder 21 "The Soul of America." WGN Radio, undated
Box 1 Folder 22 The Strength of Manhood. Chicago: Young Men’s Presbyterian Union, 1905.
Box 1 Folder 23 The Strength of Manhood. Correspondence from readers, 1905-1906.
Box 1 Folder 24 "Suggested Plan to make the 18th Amendment Effective," undated
Box 1 Folder 25 "The 23rd Psalm as interpreted. . .by [a] Shepherd," undated [See also: Louis A. Bowman. The Life Issac Eddy Brown. New York: Association Press, 926. Special Collections book collection, call number BV1085.B7B6 Young Men’s Christian Association]
Box 1 Folder 26 Cards and flyers for Bowman’s "Jokes" lectures; 1903, 1905, undated
Box 1 Folder 27 Volunteer certificate to Louis A. Bowman, 1953.


Oversize 1 Membership Certificate to Louis A. Bowman for the Sons of the American Revolution, Illinois Society, May 15, 1903.
Oversize 2 Certificate to Louis A. Bowman as attorney and counselor, from the Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D.C., May 31, 1949.


Photograph 1.1 Louis A. Bowman, carte d’visite, circa 1876, Rock Island, IL
Photograph 1.2 Louis A. Bowman, cabinet photo, circa 1882, Rock Island, IL
Photograph 1.3 Louis A. Bowman, cabinet photo, circa 1884, Rock Island, IL (2)
Photograph 1.4 Louis A. Bowman, cabinet photo, circa 1888, Chicago, IL (2)
Photograph 1.5 Louis A. Bowman, cabinet photo, circa 1890, Macomb, IL
Photograph 1.6 Louis A. Bowman, July 21, 1896, Chicago, IL
Photograph 1.7 Louis A. Bowman, November 23, 1897, Chicago, IL
Photograph 1.8 Louis A. Bowman, snapshot, circa 1950
Photograph 1.9 Louis A. Bowman, head-and-shoulders studio portrait, circa 1950
Photograph 1.10 Louis A. Bowman, three-quarters view studio portrait, circa 1950
Photograph 1.11 YMCA workers group, circa 1895-1898: Louis A. Bowman, Frank Burd (?), Issac Eddy Brown (1849-1917), [?] Smith, A. M. Bruner, A. G. Copeland
Photograph 1.12 YMCA Camp, 1898, Lake Geneva, WI
Photograph 1.13 Olivet Institute, Norman Barr Camp, Bowman Chapel, interior
Photograph 1.14 Louis A. Bowman with unidentified group of youths, 1890s
Photograph 1.15 Postcard of Rock Island & Davenport ferry
Photograph 1.16 Norman Barr Bowman (1915- ), circa 1918
Photograph 2.1 Louis A. Bowman, circa 1930, Chicago, IL [This photograph was received by the Special Collections Department in September 1992.]
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