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: Howard Aldrich, Russell Joseph Arms, Amy Beals, Mariana Brown, Morris Warren Cadwallader, Howard Samuel Davidson, Walter F. Dexter, Aaron Worth Downs, Susie Verle Edwards, Esther Elvira Fallberg, Amy L. Hadley, Kathryn Elvira Hinshaw, Zola Irene Kramme, Mary Iola Lamm, Anna Maxwell, Alfred Charles Michener, Eula Mitchell, George Andrew Osborn, Ruth Edith Owen, George R. Pottorff, Florence P. Smith, and Luanna Lillian Stewart.
William Penn University; Wilcox Library Digital Archives