Sandburg Family Timeline


Sandburg Sandburg is born on January 6 in Galesburg, Illinois. He is the second child and eldest son of Swedish immigrants August and Clara Sandburg. He is baptized Sandburg August but in elementary school asks to be called Charles, because he thought it sounded more American.


Lilian Steichen, Sandburg's future wife, is born on May 1, in Hancock, Michigan.


Sandburg leaves school after the eighth grade to help support his family; works long hours delivering milk and at other jobs.


Sandburg leaves Galesburg and sees Chicago for the first time.


Sandburg leaves home at age 19, one June afternoon. He travels the country as a hobo and works as a laborer on farms and railroad and sharpens his interest in labor laws and the plight of working people.


On April 26th, Sandburg is sworn into Company C, Sixth Infantry Regiment, Illinois Volunteers. He serves as a private in the Spanish-American War; On July 11th, Sandburg and the Company board a ship to Guantanamo Bay and they arrive on the 17th. On the 25th, Sandburg is involved in battle in Guanica, Puerto Rico, where he is assigned company detail. The armistice ends the war on August 12th, and Sandburg returns to Galesburg on September 21 and enrolls as a special student at Lombard College.


Sandburg receives appointment to West Point but fails his entrance exams in math and grammar on June 6th. He returns to Lombard College and becomes editor of the college journal and yearbook and captain of basketball team. Encouraged by a professor, he begins writing in earnest.


Sandburg leaves college in 1902 without a degree, and begins selling 3-D stereographs. He also begins writing for the Galesburg Evening Mail using the pseudonym "Crimson". His first poem is published in a literary magazine, the Thistle, in 1902. His first pamphlet of poetry and prose "In Reckless Ecstasy" is published in 1904, by his college professor. He becomes active in the Social Democratic party; lecturing and writing against the exploitation of workers and calling for the end of child labor practices.


Sandburg marries Lilian Steichen, who shares his interest in social reform and human rights. He calls her by nickname Paula; she calls him by birth name Carl. She is the sister of painter and photographer Edward Steichen.


Sandburg works as a writer and editor for several newspapers and magazines. His daughter Margaret is born June 3, 1911. His daughter Madeline dies in childbirth November, 1913.


Sandburg's poems are published in "Poetry: A Magazine of Verse." He wins a cash award for best poems of the year and is discovered by publisher Alfred Harcourt.


Sandburg's daughter Janet is born June 26.


Sandburg joins the Chicago Daily News as a reporter.


Sandburg is hired by the Newspaper Enterprise Association to travel to Norway and Sweden as a correspondent covering World War I. His daughter Helga is born on November 24.


Harcourt, Brace and Howe publishes "The Chicago Race Riots, 1919," a series of newspaper articles Sandburg wrote about the event.


Sandburg publishes a volume of children's stories called "Rootabaga Stories."


Sandburg publishes a two-volume biography "Abraham Lincoln: the Prairie Years" and establishes his reputation as a biographer. He also records an album of songs for the RCA Victor Talking Machine Company.


"The American Songbag" is published. The Sandburg's buy property on Lake Michigan and move there. Mrs. Sandburg designs the house.


"Abe Lincoln Grows Up," a children's version of Sandburg's Lincoln biography, is published.


Sandburg leaves the Chicago Daily News to focus on his writings -- poetry, children's stories, and the Lincoln biography.


Lilian Sandburg buys her first goats and registers the herd's name as "Chikaming" after the township where they live. She begins a breeding program to improve goats' blood lines and milk production, becoming a champion breeder of champion goats.


Sandburg publishes "The People: Yes".


Sandburg publishes the four-volume "Abraham Lincoln: The War Years."


Sandburg wins the Pulitzer Prize for History, for "Abraham Lincoln: The War Years." He is elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and receives honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, and many other colleges and universities


Sandburg and his family move to Connemara Farms in Flat Rock, NC


Sandburg publishes "Complete Poems," a compilation of his poetry to date.


Sandburg wins a Pulitzer Prize for poetry for "Complete Poems."


Sandburg receives the National Institute of Arts and Letters gold medal for history and biography.


Sandburg writes prolifically; travels the country lecturing, reading poetry, and singing. In 1956, the first of many US schools named after him opens in Harvard, Illinois.


Sandburg delivers the Lincoln Day address on February 12, before a joint session of Congress, and then travels to Russia with Edward Steichen as the cultural envoy for the State Department. He and Steichen represent the United States at Steichen's "Family of Man" photo exhibition in Moscow.


Sandburg works as Hollywood film consultant.


Sandburg receives the International United Poets Laureate award.


Sandburg receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Lyndon B. Johnson.


Sandburg receives honors from the NAACP for his coverage of the 1919 Chicago race riots and for his "life-long struggle to extend the frontiers of social justice."


Sandburg dies on July 22, at his home in Flat Rock, NC, at age 89. The nation mourns and acclaims him as writer, biographer, folksinger, lecturer, and Poet of the People who spoke for those who did not have words or power to speak for themselves. He is eulogized on September 17, at the Lincoln Memorial. His ashes were buried at his birthplace in Galesburg on October 1st.


Congress authorizes the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, the first unit of the National Park Service to honor a poet.


Lilian Steichen Sandburg dies February 18, at age 93.

Last updated: October 27, 2021

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Mailing Address:

81 Carl Sandburg Lane
Flat Rock , NC 28731


828 693-4178

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