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F. W. J. Sylwester Papers

 Record Group
Identifier: RG 03/03

Scope and Contents

Not many records survived from the presidency of Dr. Sylwester. Extant records include correspondence from 1924-1937 (predominantly with Synodical officials), various office documents, documents relating to his career (including some correspondence), records of his campus trees project, and various biographical items (especially from his 50th anniversary as a professor [1955] and 90th birthday [1971] celebrations). The collection also includes several histories of the Sylwester family, especially in relation to Concordia University.


  • 1907 - 1946
  • Majority of material found within 1924 - 1946

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available to researchers by appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Concordia University Archives is the owner of the materials in the F.W.J.Collection and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Concordia University Archives before any reproduction use. Copyright resides with the creator of the documents or their heirs. The status of copyright is governed by the Copyright Law of the U. S. (Title 17, U.S.C.). In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Biographical Note

Franz Wilhelm Johannes Sylwester was born in Gaylord, Minnesota, on March 3, 1881. Following his graduation from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1905, he was brought to Portland as the first Director/President of the newly founded Concordia Evangelical Lutheran College. He married Helen Broitzmann in 1906; she died in 1918. He married Arina Fiss in 1920; she died in 1959.

The University of Oregon conferred on him a Master of Arts degree (1929) and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, honored him with a Doctor of Divinity degree (1954), although he was never ordained. During his 42 years as president, he taught in every subject area and performed all administrative functions. He planted many of the trees around the campus, including several non-native species.

Following his retirement in 1946, he continued to work part-time in the library and to teach. He died on October 26, 1972, and is buried in Parkrose Cemetery on Fremont Street in Portland.


1.5 Linear Feet (1 record box, 1 document box)


Correspondence and documents from the presidency of F. W. J. Sylwester, Concordia University's first president.


Materials are arranged by subject.

Custodial History

Materials were in storage until processed in 2003.

Related Archival Materials

A poster entitled Life and Times of F.W.J. Sylwester by Eva Arina Sylwester, 1988 March, is available in the Concordia University Archives.

Processing Information

Photographs from Sylwester's 90th birthday celebration were removed and added to the Concordia University Archives Photographic Collection.

Guide to the F.W.J. Sylwester Papers An Inventory at the Concordia University (Portland, OR) Archives
Nolan R. Bremer
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding Aid is written in English.
Encoding of finding aid supported by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission

Repository Details

Part of the Concordia University Archives Repository

Concordia University
2811 NE Holman St.
Portland 97211-6099 USA