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Milestones

1800s

Chemistry laboratory at the University of North Dakota with five male students in uniform and an instructor, c. 1897.

1900s

Hudson Valley Community College (SUNY), previously Hudson Valley Technical Institute, welcomed its first female student in 1955. Here a student is operating a lathe, c. late 1950s.

2000s

Students participating in the Native American Higher Education Initiative, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

1800s

MARCH 4, 1801 Thomas Jefferson, a graduate of the College of William and Mary, is inaugurated as president of the United States.

JANUARY 25, 1819 Thomas Jefferson founds the University of Virginia as the first state university without any connections to a church. Classes begin in March 1825.

FEBRUARY 5, 1833 Newark College (now the University of Delaware) receives its state charter and opens the following year; it is reorganized as a land-grant institution in 1870.

MAY 7, 1847 The New York State Legislature passes a bill making the Free Academy (forerunner of The City College of New York) a reality. It becomes the first free institution of higher education in the nation.

JULY 26, 1848 The state legislature of Wisconsin incorporated the State University that was divided into four departments: (1) The department of Science, Literature and the Arts; (2) The department of Law; (3) The department of Medicine; (4) The department of the Theory and Practice of Elementary Instruction.

FEBRUARY 28, 1850 The University of Utah is founded as the University of Deseret by the General Assembly of the provisional state of Deseret.

JANUARY 24, 1851 The state legislature of Florida creates two seminaries, one on each side of the Suwanee River. Tallahassee was chosen as the site of the West Florida Seminary and the school grew into Florida State University.

FEBRUARY 25, 1851 The University of Minnesota is founded as a preparatory school, seven years before the territory of Minnesota was admitted as a state. After closing during the Civil War, it reopened in 1867 with the help of businessman John Sargent Pillsbury, who engineered its status as the state's land-grant university.

JANUARY 6, 1853 The East Florida Seminary opens in Ocala with public funding; this institution grows into the University of Florida.

FEBRUARY 22, 1855 The Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania (later Penn State University) is chartered at the request of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Society to apply scientific principles to farming. In 1862 it is designated as the Commonwealth's sole land-grant institution.

SEPTEMBER 24, 1855 The University of Iowa is the first state university to admit women and men on an equal basis.

MARCH 6, 1856 The University of Maryland is founded as the Maryland Agricultural College and became a land-grant school in February 1864.

AUGUST 1, 1856 East Alabama Male College (now Auburn University) is chartered. In 1872, it became the first land-grant college in the South and was renamed the Agriculture and Mechanical College of Alabama.

AUGUST 26, 1857 Thomas W. Valentine, the president of the New York Teachers Association, invites fellow educators to organize a National Teachers Association. This precursor to the National Education Association (NEA) is founded in Philadelphia.

NOVEMBER 4, 1861 The University of Washington is founded in Seattle as the Territorial University of Washington.

JULY 2, 1862 During the Civil War, President Lincoln signs the Morrill Act, which establishes land-grant institutions that are public and free to teach agriculture and the mechanic arts, as well as scientific and classical studies and military tactics. Each eligible state (excluding those in the Confederacy) received 30,000 acres of federal land for each member of Congress, as of the census of 1860.

Mandolin Club at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla., c. 1900.
Lloyd Gaines, seen here in 1938, was a graduate of Lincoln University (Missouri), who applied to the University of Missouri's law school and was denied admission based on his race. The Supreme Court later ruled that Gaines be admitted, but he had disappeared and was never found.
Dr. Richard Dewal at the University of Minnesota with a bubble oxygenator, or heart-lung machine, used during heart surgery, 1956.

APRIL 28, 1863 The University of Massachusetts (Amherst) is chartered as a land-grant agricultural college.

FEBRUARY 22, 1865 The University of Kentucky is founded as a land-grant institution as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the Kentucky University. That same year it merged with Transylvania University, which had been founded in 1783.

1866 The New Jersey State Legislature picks Rutgers Scientific School over Princeton University to be the state land-grant college. The Dutch Reformed Church also severs its last ties with Rutgers. Both events paved the way for Rutgers' eventual role as the state university of New Jersey.

JULY 7, 1866 The New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts (later the University of New Hampshire) is founded in Hanover, N.H..

FEBRUARY 7, 1867 The University of West Virginia is founded as the Agricultural College of West Virginia.

FEBRUARY 28, 1867 The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, receives its charter from the Illinois state legislature as the Illinois Industrial University, although its first president, John Milton Gregory, establishes a strong liberal arts tradition.

MARCH 23, 1868 University of California is chartered by the state legislature through the "Organic Act." Opened in Oakland in 1869, its first class contained 40 students. Women were first admitted in 1870. The twelve members of the first graduating class of 1873 were known as the "Twelve Apostles."

OCTOBER 27, 1868 Corvallis College (Oregon) is designated as the agricultural college of the state of Oregon and begins receiving partial state support derived from the sale of 90,000 acres in southeast Oregon. Corvallis College is later renamed Corvallis State Agricultural College and eventually Oregon State University.

1869 The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, establishes the first laboratory for botany students in America.

FEBRUARY 15, 1869 The University of Nebraska receives its charter from the state legislature as a land-grant school.

MARCH 4, 1869 Ulysses S. Grant, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., is inaugurated as president of the United States.

NOVEMBER 6, 1869 Rutgers defeats Princeton 6 to 4 in the first intercollegiate football game.

FEBRUARY 14, 1870 Normal College (Hunter College) becomes the first publicly supported tuition-free institution of higher education for women in the United States.

MAY 13, 1871 Alcorn State University in Mississippi is founded as Alcorn University. The state gave Alcorn 3/5 of the proceeds of the land sales for agricultural and mechanical studies. Alcorn became the first land-grant institution established for African-American students.

1872 The National Education Association creates a department of higher education along with a separate department of normal schools.

Clark Hall at The University of Alabama, c. 1900.
Postcard aerial view of the University of Kentucky, Lexington, c. 1900.
Henry Howard Finnell, an agronomist and erosion specialist at Oklahoma State University, provided practical solutions such as contours in fields and was an early leader in soil conservation practices to address the land hardships that occurred during the Dust Bowl, c. 1940.

JANUARY 22, 1872 University of Arkansas opens.

MAY 1, 1875 The Huntsville Normal School opens (now named Alabama A & M University) and is led by William Hooper Council, a former slave.

1876 The United States Office of Education is established.

FEBRUARY 15, 1876 Texas Permanent University Fund (PUF) is established in the Texas Constitution.

MARCH 14, 1876 The University of Colorado is founded.

JUNE 10, 1876 The University of Illinois establishes the Morrow Plots, the first experimental agricultural fields in the United States to yield important data on crop rotation and natural soil nutrient depletion.

OCTOBER 4, 1876 Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (Texas A & M) opens its doors, the first public school of higher education in Texas.

Freshman students taking part in annual ritual on the campus of Eastern Washington University, "Pass Through the Pillars," greeting other students, faculty and staff, c. 2005.
Chemistry laboratory at the University of North Dakota with five male students in uniform and an instructor, c. 1897.
University of Iowa Homecoming "Corn" monument, Iowa City, Iowa, 1925.

OCTOBER 16, 1876 The University of Oregon is founded.

JULY 4, 1881 Booker T. Washington founds the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. The state of Alabama charters the school as a land-grant college.

SEPTEMBER 28, 1881 Storrs Agriculture School (which officially became the University of Connecticut in 1939) opens in a former Civil War orphanage donated by Charles and Augustus Storrs, along with 170 acres of farmland and $5,000 to purchase equipment and supplies.

JANUARY 14, 1882 The American Association of University Women is founded in Washington, D.C., as the Association of Collegiate Alumnae.

Textile Engineering Lab at Texas Tech University, 1930s. The University of Washington puts strong emphasis on giving students experimental learning opportunities.
Ronald Martin, Robert Patterson, and Mark Martin, students at North Carolina A&T Greensboro, conduct sit-in after being refused service at F.W. Woolworth luncheon counter in Greensboro N.C., 1960.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1886.

SEPTEMBER 15, 1883 The University of Texas is opened in Austin.

MARCH 12, 1885 Arizona State University is founded as the territorial normal school.

1887 The Association of Public Land Grant Universities (formerly the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges) is founded.

MARCH 2, 1887 Hatch-George Act provides federal funding for agricultural research stations at land-grant institutions.

NOVEMBER 15, 1887 American Association of Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations holds its first conference.

Zimmerman Library on the University of New Mexico campus built as a Public Works Administration Project, 1939.
Althea Moore and friends, Iowa City, Iowa, Faculty-student baseball game at Ohio State University, c. 1890. Althea "Bee" Moore was an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa (then the State University of Iowa). c. 1926.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation sponsored the Native American Higher Education Initiative. Here, a participating Indian Tribal College conducts its graduation ceremony.

MARCH 4, 1889 Benjamin Harrison, a graduate of Miami University (Ohio), is inaugurated as president of the United States.

MARCH 20, 1890 University of Wisconsin Professor Stephen Babcock invents famous butterfat test and helps develop cold-curing process giving birth to cheese industry in Wisconsin.

AUGUST 30, 1890 Congress passes the 1890 Morrill Act, creating African-American land-grant colleges and universities.

OCTOBER 14, 1890 Dwight David Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, is born.

MAY 19, 1892 The State Agricultural School (Rhode Island) is renamed the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts and opens that year with new funding from the second Morrill Land-Grant Act.

SEPTEMBER 10, 1895 The University of Montana, Missoula, is founded.

The University of Washington puts strong emphasis on giving students experimental learning opportunities. Here a UW student watches Seaglider testing in the Oceanography lab in 2009.