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Albert W. Gendebien, Lafayette’s archivist emeritus and author of Biography of a College: A History of Lafayette College 1927-78, will speak on “Turning Out Christian Gentlemen: The 19th-Century Mission of Lafayette College” at 4:10 p.m. Thursday, March 8, at Skillman Library.

The talk is the second in Lafayette’s 2001 College Archives Lecture Series, entitled “Finding a Purpose: Lafayette College and its Mission in the Nineteenth Century.” Sponsored by the Friends of Skillman Library, the free events are open to the public.

Gendebien, a member of Lafayette’s Class of 1934, has been working for nearly two years on a study of religion at Lafayette. He has been a Lafayette student, professor, college biographer, and archivist. The Board of Trustees bestowed upon Gendebien the College’s highest honor, the Lafayette Medal for Distinguished Service, in 1997.

Gendebien received his degree in English with a minor in German in 1934. In 1935, he earned one of the few master’s degrees ever awarded by Lafayette, specializing in Pennsylvania colonial history. He studied in Rome in the late 1930s and served in the Army Air Corps from 1943-1946. He began teaching at Lafayette in 1948 and became full professor in 1962. He completed his Ph.D. in history at American University in 1952. Gendebien served as acting chairman of the International Affairs program, head of the history department, and chair of the Committee on Co-Education at Lafayette. He was chosen as a Jones Faculty Lecturer and received the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and Contributions to the Campus Community.

When Gendebien retired from teaching in 1978, he began collecting and cataloguing Lafayette records. During his ten years as archivist, he also authored the third volume of the College’s history. To acknowledge his founding of the college archives, the area of Skillman Library that houses the archives is named the Albert W. Gendebien Suite.

Through the years, Gendebien has been continually active in the Alumni Association, holding positions on the Alumni Council, executive committee, and continuing education committee. He also has been a correspondent for the Class of 1934. He was faculty adviser and alumni president of Theta Chi fraternity, and in 1992 received the Daniel E. Golden ‘34 Faculty Service Award.

Gendebien has been a regular lecturer to groups of alumni and others. He has spoken on the history of the Lafayette presidency at two inaugurations, on the influence of alumni in the College’s history, and on the relationship between Easton and Lafayette through the centuries.

Gendebien also taught a course in Interdisciplinary Studies to Lafayette College seniors in 1989 and 1991-93.

The Archives Lecture Series talks commemorate the 175th anniversary of the chartering of Lafayette in 1826. It was launched Feb. 15 with Russell W. Irvine, associate professor in the department of educational policy studies at Georgia State University, speaking on “Completing the Story of Lafayette College: The Presence of African Americans Before the Civil War.”

“The college is so very different today from what it was like in the 19th century,“ says Lafayette College archivist Diane Shaw. “Collectively, these lectures will paint a fascinating picture of the college’s initial attempts to define itself. In recent years, we have had a number of scholars using the college archives to research various aspects of the college’s history, and we are pleased to provide a forum for some of their findings.”

The remaining talks in the series also will take place at 4:10 p.m. in Skillman Library:

Wednesday, April 11 – “’The Learning of the Closet with the Labours of the Field’: The Manual Labor System at Lafayette, 1832-1839,” Stephen Rice, assistant professor of American studies, Ramapo College. Rice is the author of a book on the manual labor academy movement in America.

Wednesday, September 19 – “Francis Andrew March and Lafayette’s Literary Culture, 1857-1906,” Bianca Falbo, Lafayette assistant professor of English. Falbo has maintained a research interest in Francis March since she joined the Lafayette faculty in 1998. March pioneered the study of literary works in the English language, instituting a program in English at Lafayette decades before the subject was widely established in colleges throughout the nation, and was the first to use the plays of Shakespeare in his courses. Lafayette was the first college to establish formally a chair for the study of the English language and literature.

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