Penn College was founded by Quakers, who believed education to be a necessity in their lives, but public schooling had not yet come to Iowa in the late 19th Century. Oskaloosa seemed like the perfect location for a Quaker college due to the two academies in the vicinity, and the Yearly Meeting that took place there. The merging of the Spring Creek Institute and the Thorndyke Institute helped bring about the founding of Penn College. Penn College opened September 24th, 1873 with John W. Woody as its first President. The college grew at a rapid pace till it reached its full maturity in 1910 under President Rosenburg, who under his term, completed the college building, doubled attendance, and enriched and expanded studies. Graduating class includes: Frank Conner, Rosa Dye, James Howard, Taylor Jackson, Charlotte Johnson, Elizabeth Johnson, Ira Kemble, Alice Lewis, Laura Lewis, Elizabeth McGrew, Charles Pennington, Esther Thomas, George Weeks, Clara Willits, Nancy Wing, and Luella Woodard.
William Penn University; Wilcox Library Digital Archives