Claus William Foss



Born: Au­gust 28, 1855, Ge­ne­va, Il­li­nois.

Died: Feb­ru­ary 8, 1935, Rock Is­land, Il­li­nois.

Buried: Chip­pi­an­nock Ce­me­te­ry, Rock Island, Il­li­nois.


Foss was the son of Swed­ish im­mi­grants Carl Jo­han Ab­ra­hams­son Foss and Char­lot­ta Chris­ti­na Er­iks­son. He mar­ried twice, to Es­ther Foss and Sa­rah Mar­ga­ret Shu­ey.

Foss at­tend­ed the Red Wing Col­lege In­st­itute, Red Wing, Min­ne­so­ta, then en­tered Au­gus­ta­na Col­lege, Rock Is­land, Il­li­nois, in 1879. He gra­du­at­ed with his ba­che­lor’s de­gree in June 1883.

In 1884, he be­came pro­fess­or of his­to­ry and po­li­ti­cal sci­ence at Au­gus­ta­na Col­lege. In 1888, he be­came vice-pre­si­dent of the col­lege, serv­ing un­til 1900. On the death of Dr. T. N. Has­sel­quist, he was act­ing pre­si­dent un­til the electi­on of Dr. Ol­of Ols­son as pre­si­dent in 1891. Up­on Ols­son’s death, Foss again served as act­ing pre­si­dent un­til Dr. Gus­tav An­dreen be­came pre­si­dent.

In ad­dition to his ac­a­de­mic po­si­tions, Foss was on the board of di­rect­ors of the Au­gus­ta­na Book Con­cern, the Board of Home Mis­sions for the Au­gus­ta­na Sy­nod, and was trea­sur­er of the Sy­nod’s Board of For­eign Mis­sions

In 1908, the Ge­ne­ral Coun­cil of the Ev­an­ge­li­cal Lu­ther­an Church in North Am­er­ica sent him as a com­mis­sion­er to in­spect its mis­sion field in south­ern In­dia, where he tra­veled ex­ten­sive­ly, 1908–09. Up­on com­plet­ing his work in In­dia, he in­spect­ed the Sy­nod’s mis­sion in Per­sia (now Ir­an) in 1909, and tra­veled in Egypt, the Ho­ly Land, Asia Mi­nor (now Tur­key), south­ern Rus­sia, and south and cen­tral Eur­ope.

Foss al­so found time to ed­it the Lu­ther­an Quar­ter­ly Re­view, the Au­gus­ta­na Jour­nal, and the Ol­ive Leaf, and con­trib­ut­ed to va­ri­ous oth­er ma­ga­zines and pe­ri­o­di­cals. His larg­est li­ter­ary work was Glimps­es of Three Con­ti­nents, a tra­vel­ogue through In­dia, the Bi­ble lands and Eur­ope (Au­gus­ta­na Book Con­cern, 1912).

Foss be­longed to the Am­er­ican In­sti­tute of Ci­vics, the Am­er­ican Aca­de­my of Po­li­ti­cal and So­cial Sci­ence, the Am­er­ican His­to­ri­cal As­so­cia­tion, and the Swed­ish His­to­ri­cal So­cie­ty of Am­er­ica.

He was a mem­ber of the Grace Lu­ther­an Church in Rock Is­land, Il­li­nois.