Pease, Theodore Calvin (1887-1948) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Pease, Theodore Calvin (1887-1948)

Historical Note:

Theodore Calvin Pease (1887-1948) was assistant (1908-09); associate (1914-18); assistant professor (1920-23); associate professor (1923-26); professor (1926-48); and head of the Department of History (1942-46) at the University of Illinois (UI). He was a renowned historian of Illinois and the American West as well as an early leader in twentieth-century archival science in the United States.

Pease was born at Cassopolis, Michigan, on November 25, 1887, and grew up in Chicago. He graduated from high school in 1904, aged sixteen, and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago in 1907. Pease worked as an assistant in history at UI before returning to the University of Chicago and earning his PhD in 1914. Upon graduation, Pease returned to the UI history faculty and remained there for the duration of his career aside from a period of military service during World War I (1917-19). Pease's publications include the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize-winning The Leveller Movement: A Study in the History and Political Theory of the English Great Civil War (1916); The Frontier State, 1818-1848 (1918); and 1780â??The Revolution at Crisis in the West (1931). He was also prolific editor, compiling volumes such as The County Archives of the State of Illinois (1915); Anglo-French Boundary Disputes in the West, 1749-1763 (1936); and Illinois on the Eve of the Seven Years' War, 1747-1755 (coedited with Ernestine Jenison, 1940). He was also editor of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (1920-39), a periodical featuring research and primary sources of Western history produced by the Illinois Historical Survey, the Graduate School's library and research institute. Pease was a founding member of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the first editor (1937â??46) of the SAA's  journal, American Archivist. Pease also left a lasting mark as the director of the Illinois Historical Survey (1938â??48), which he led in its mission to facilitate historical research on the American West and to collect relevant research materials from around the world. He served as the president of the State Historical Society in 1946.

In 1927, Pease married Marguerite Edith Jenison, who was director of the War Records Section of the Illinois Historical Library and assistant editor of the Illinois Historical Collections. Pease died of a heart attack in Urbana, Illinois, on August 11, 1948. The SAA's Theodore Calvin Pease Award, created in 1987, is named in his honor.


J. G. Randall, "Theodore Calvin Pease," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984) 41, no. 4 (December 1948), pp. 353-366. Accessed June 4, 2020,

"Pease, Theodore Calvin. Papers, 1903-1948 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections," accessed June 4, 2020,

"Theodore Calvin Pease Award," accessed June 4, 2020,

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