Morris Library at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will honor a benevolent family by establishing the new Alwin C. Carus Endowment. The library’s leadership recently worked to the SIU Foundation to transfer $1 million from the Carus Mineral Trust to create the endowment. It will support archival work and a future endowed chair, the Alwin C. Carus Archivist and Professor of Philosophy, all fully funded by the revenue from the trust.
The Carus family’s relationship with the library is longstanding. Alwin Carus’ grandfather Edward Hegeler and his father, Paul Carus, founded the Open Court Publishing Company in La Salle, Illinois, in 1887. It was one of the first academic presses in the country without a university affiliation.
In the 1960s, Alwin and other surviving family members connected with SIU’s Morris Library, donating materials from the publishing company. The collection of manuscripts, books and other materials is one of the largest in the library’s Special Collections Research Center. It includes subjects focused on religion, science and philosophy, and it has an international reputation that draws people from around the world.
When Alwin Carus died in 2004, Morris Library also received $450,000 from a mineral trust in the family’s name. Every year since, the library has received an additional $150,000.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Carus family and the work of our Special Collections team, for many years we have developed our archival collections and assisted students and professionals locally and around the world,” said John Pollitz, dean of library affairs. “The establishment of the endowment is a win-win, in that it sets up the library into the future to continue its work while simultaneously honoring the original donor, Alwin C. Carus, and his final wishes.”
SIU Chancellor Austin Lane added that the future creation of an endowed chair is significant.
“Endowed chairs help us attract or retain outstanding faculty who are leaders in their fields,” Lane said. “We are deeply grateful to the Carus family, past and present, for helping us preserve and maintain our valuable, historical special collections.”
The youngest son of philosopher Paul Carus, Alwin C. Carus shared his father’s interests in history, archeology and astronomy. Alwin was born in 1901 in La Salle. He majored in chemistry and physics at the University of Chicago, worked in the research laboratory of the Carus Chemical Company and owned farms and ranches in the Badlands of North Dakota, western Minnesota, eastern Montana and the Peace River Valley of Alberta. He traveled to Iraq and Turkey in the 1950s to visit ancient archeological sites and joined several professional astronomical expeditions for observing solar eclipses.
“This particular endowment supports the Open Court collection, which, together with the John Dewey Papers, highlights our strengths in American philosophy,” Pollitz said. “SIU has, in past years, been celebrated as one of the top-tier leaders of this discipline, and the endowment helps to revitalize a commitment to this identifying feature of the university.”
The endowment will support an archivist for the Open Court Publishing Company records and its related collections, as well as other collections in philosophy. The position will also report on the activities and accomplishments with the Open Court Publishing Company records, the Alwin C. Carus Papers, Hegeler-Carus Family Papers and other relevant collections.