Baxter-Snyder Center for Icarian Studies

Icarians in Illinois: Baxter-Snyder Center (YouTube)

The Baxter-Snyder Center for Icarian Studies is located in the Archives and Special Collections Department of the University Library at Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL. It was established in 1977 to bring together in one place material dealing with or written by, this utopian community.

The Center is made up of a number of collections, containing letters, manuscripts, personal writings, photographs and other information on or by selected members of the community and various aspects of life within the community.

Etienne Cabet and the Icarians

Image of Etienne CabetThe Icarians, a group of mostly middle class French idealists led by Etienne Cabet (1788-1856), attempted to establish a communistic society in Nauvoo, Illinois, in the 1850's. The group settled at this site, located on the Mississippi River, after the Mormons departed. Cabet and his followers tried to set up a communal brotherhood based upon the principals of peace and justice as expounded in Cabet's book Voyage in Icaria, a novel based on Sir Thomas More's Utopia. At its peak, the colony numbered over 500 members, but dissension over legal matters and the death of Cabet caused some members to leave this parent colony and move on to other Icarian locations in East St. Louis, Iowa and California.


Baxter Collection

Emile Baxter (1825-1895) was a Secretary of the Nauvoo Icaria and was among the few Icarians who remained in the town after the colony re-located to Corning, Iowa, in 1860. There he ran a vineyard and wine-making business. The Baxter Papers was the first accession of the Center for Icarian Studies, donated by Dr. Lillian M. Snyder and her mother Florence (direct descendants of Emile) in the spring of 1977.

The collection consists of a biographical sketch of Emile Baxter, several diaries, day books and account books, as well as miscellaneous writings.

Baxter-Cabet Letters

A series of letters between Etienne Cabet and Emile Baxter written between Fall 1854 and Spring 1855, when Emile arranged for Cabet to join the Icarian community. The letters are in French, but an article with a description and translation of the letters appears in the Western Illinois Regional Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1.

Cabet Collection

This collection is a microfilm copy of materials located at Southern Illinois University. It includes quite a bit of correspondence with Cabet and with Beluze, as well as other miscellaneous writings. The collection is in French.

Cambre Family Papers

The papers of the Adolphe Cambre Family were given to the Center in April 1978, by Jerry Karr, a descendant. Adolph Arsane Cambre (1827-1907) was born in Chilly, France and trained as a cabinet maker. At the age of 21, he emigrated to News Orleans as an Icarian and remained in New Orleans after the Icarians had gone north to Nauvoo (most likely recovering from yellow fever which he contracted in 1848). After a trip back to France, he settled in Nauvoo with his new bride, brother and mother. The collection includes Cambre genealogy, photographs, letters and family sketches, including some obituaries, marriage and death records.

Dadant Papers

Charles Dadant of Hamilton, Illinois, donated this collection to the Center in the fall of 1978. Dadant is the grandson of Camille P. Dadant who was born in Longres France in April 1851, and came to the United States with his parents in 1863 to settle in Montebello Township, Hancock County, where his parents established a family farm. On November 1, 1875, he married Mary Martinelli, daughter of Nauvoo Icarian Luigi Martinelli. The family carries on the beekeeping business started by Camille and located at the east bank of the Mississippi River near Hamilton. The collection consists of biographical information on the descendants, Life and Writings of Charles Dadant by C.P. Dadant and The Life of C.P. Dadant, by M.G. Dadant.

French R. Deane Collection

French R. Deane is a descendant of Pierre and Celest (Montague) Bergeron. Pierre was born in Brittany in 1819 and married Celeste in 1850. Pierre as a 'Red Republican' opposed the rise to power of Napoleon III and as a consequence was charged with treason and the government issued a warrant for his arrest. Faced with capital punishment, Pierre, his wife and daughter departed from LeHarve with a contingent of Icarians in January 1852 and eventually ended up in St. Louis, living outside of the Cheltenham colony. Later in life, after 1885, he returned to France where he died. The collection includes Bergeron genealogy materials, items dealing with the establishment of the Center for Icarian Studies, Icarian newspaper accounts, and materials related to the Descendants of the Icarians.

Gauthier Collection

Typescript of Icarian land transfers from Corning, Iowa. (Abstracts No. 2827 and 3876)

Grillas Papers

This collection is mainly original handwritten letters (1838 - 1854) that deal with the story of Pierre Grillas. He joined the Icarian movement in Paris, embarked on the ship Rome, part of the First Advanced Guard to America, in 1848 and died in Nauvoo in 1852.

Gundy Collection

Letters between A.A. Jonvaux, of Nauvoo, and his daughter and son-in-law, Irma and Jules Cottet. Cottet was a member of the opposition to Cabet in the dissension of 1856.

Illinois State Historical Library Collection

This collection was obtained through the help of Roger Bridges, then Head Librarian, at the Illinois State Historical Library. The collection contains a variety of materials related to the Icarian settlement at Nauvoo. It includes a listing of the Icarian materials at the State Historical Library, several lengthy newspapers accounts, and some vital statistics of the colony.

Iowa State Historical Library Collection

The Iowa State Historical Library Collection was the first major manuscript collection acquired by the Center, received in the fall of 1977. The collection consists of letters, musical scores, newspaper accounts and printed documents. Much of it is in the French language. All of the titles or identification of these French items have been translated by the director into English.

Journal Articles

This collection includes published and unpublished scholarly materials, excluding books. It lists those articles, chapters of books, and typescripts which have been collected since 1978. All extant articles, chapters, and typescripts are filed in this collection except those articles on the Icarians by the Director which have been published in Western Illinois Regional Studies, a complete run of which is available in the Western Illinois University Archives and Special Collections.

Konersmann Collection

A letter from Madame Cabet (E. Cabet's daughter) to Pierre Roine, expressing her reaction to the "Majority" opposition to Cabet's constitutional changes in the Nauvoo community.

Kruse Collection

The collection is comprised of newspaper articles dealing with Nauvoo Icaria which were xeroxed from scrapbooks belonging to Mrs. I. Kruse of Nauvoo.

Dale Larsen Collection

Included in this collection are three scholarly articles, one photo-copy of an Icarian newspaper (La Jeune Icarie, May 1, 1878-Dec. 31, 1880), sixteen newspaper clippings dealing mainly with the colonies in Texas and Corning, fifteen photocopied manuscript items, six photographs, three rolls of microfilm [two newspapers: L'Etoile du Kansas et de Iowa... March 1, 1873-Dec. 1880 (roll 1) and L'Etoile des Pauvres et des Soufrants, Jan. 1881-Oct. 1883 (roll 2) both from the Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, and on roll three, Cabet, Voyage en Icarie, 5th edition, 1848.] The material was given to Robert P. Sutton by Dale Larsen, in August, 1982.

Lists of Data

Included in this collection are lists of vital statistics which have been accessioned in the many major collections. This file gathers together these useful, but sometimes, overlooked sources of information about the Icarian colonies. Some of the items in this collection include the passenger lists of the Advance Guards, members of the colony listed in the 1850 Hancock County (Illinois) census schedule, 1859 Mortality Census Schedule, Old Nauvoo Cemetery list pertaining to French Icarians, as well as Nauvoo Icarian Naturalization Records, 1852-1860.

Alexis Marchand Collection

Marie Marchand & William Ross Wedding day (June 15, 1888) The Alexis Marchand collection was originally donated to the Lovejoy Library, SIU-Edwardsville, and the holdings at Western are Xerox copies of this collection. The collection is composed of letters to and from the Marchand family. With the exception of some letters from Marie Marchand to Alexis Marchand, the collection is in French.

Cabinet Photo: Marie Marchand & William Ross, Wedding Day, June 15, 1888.


David Martin Collection

Xerox copies of materials collected by David C. Martin. They include contemporary newspaper accounts of the Icarians, photographs of Icarian buildings at Nauvoo, journal articles on the Icarian community at Corning, IA and information on the Descendants of the Icarians.

Missouri Historical Society Collection

In the Spring of 1981, the Director visited the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis and acquired copies of materials in their collection which were not already in the Center's collection. The collection includes a variety of items, including information on B. Mercadier and Alfred Piquenard, as well as some articles and other miscellany.

Montaldo Collection

A collection of letters to/from Ignacio Montaldo.

University of Nebraska at Omaha Collection

The Institute at the University of Nebraska, Omaha was established in 1977 and is supported by funds from the Nebraska State Legislature. Its primary, if not exclusive, areas of accessions are the Icarian communities at Corning, Iowa. Most of the materials in this collection deal with the court action in Adams County, Iowa, Circuit Court in 1878 in which the judge ordered the dissolution of the Corning Icaria. There is a partial list of the books in the Icarian library at Corning, two newspaper accounts (The Corning Union and L'Observateur) and personal correspondence of A. Gauvain. This collection was received in spring of 1983.


The Center holds original issues of two Icarian newspapers, Colonie Icarienne, and Nouvelle Revue Icarienne. Colonie Icarienne was published in Nauvoo, IL under the direction of M.C. Cabet. The Center holds issues #1-22, 1854. Nouvelle Revue Icarienne was published in St. Louis, MO and the Center has issues #1-68 (missing 22, 32, 55-66), dated 1857-1859.

Peyron Collection

A collection, donated by Ernest Peyron, dealing with the Peyron family and their link to the Nauvoo Icarians. Ernest's great-grandfather, Laurent, emigrated from St. Etienne, France to the Nauvoo Icaria in 1855 with his family. He secretly took out of France a book of ribbon patterns and samples, in the hopes of beginning again in American the family business of ribbon making. Included in the collection is the ribbon book, as well as other items that concern the Peyron family.


A collection of photographs gathered since the beginning of the Center's activities in the summer of 1979 includes black and white glossy prints as well as some color shots. Some of the folders are classified by subject matter (Icaria Speranza, for example) and others by donor. Photographs in the collection are of/from: Icarian Newsletter, Descendants of Icaria, Icarian Weekends, Cheltenham Icaria, Dale Ross Collection, Exhibits, French Deane Collection, and additional miscellaneous prints.

Renaud Collection

Jules Renaud, a descendant of one of the original Nauvoo Icarians, donated a collection to the Center in 1977. This collection includes Passenger Lists of the First, Second, Third and Fourth Grand Departures, as well numerous newspaper articles.

Roine Letters

Two letters. One letter is written by August Roine, Dec. 1848, describing the discouraging conditions in New Orleans after the disaster at the Peters Concession in Texas. The second letter is from Cabet to Roine, dated Oct. 1854, providing instruction on moving from New Orleans (where Roine stayed in March 1849 when Cabet relocated to Nauvoo).

Dale Ross Collection

A collection of letters written between Marie Ross and Alexis Marchand, dated from 1881 to 1897, and a paper given by Dale Ross at the 1986 Icarian Weekend in Nauvoo on Armel Alexis Marchand.

Lillian Snyder Tape Collection

In January, 1983, Lillian Snyder loaned thirty-seven cassette tapes to the Center to be copied and included in the Center's holdings. These tapes were recorded between 1973 and 1982. Subjects covered include the annual meetings of the Descendants of the Icarians, interviews with Icarian descendants and Icarian scholars, papers presented at historical conferences, local radio programs, and Icarian music. Additions to the collection have been made since the original accession was received.

Slide Collection

A collection of slides that deal with the Icarians and their colonies.

St. Louis Public Library Collection

Xerox copies of pamphlets, written mostly by Etienne Cabet and Jean Pierre Beluze, pertaining to the Icarians. The originals are in the St. Louis Public Library and are written in French.