Northwestern University is a private institution founded in 1851 to serve the Northwest Territory, an area that now includes the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota.
In 1853, the founders purchased a 379-acre tract of land on the shore of Lake Michigan 12 miles north of Chicago. They established a campus and developed the land near it, naming the surrounding town Evanston in honor of one of the University's founders, John Evans. After completing its first building in 1855, Northwestern began classes that fall with two faculty members and 10 students.Sixteen presidents have presided over Northwestern in the years since. The University has grown to include 12 schools and colleges, with additional campuses in Chicago and Doha, Qatar.
See highlights in Northwestern’s history:
1850On May 31 John Evans, Grant Goodrich, Henry W. Clark, Andrew Brown, Orrington Lunt, Jabez Botsford, Richard Haney, Richard H. Blanchard, and Zadoc Hall meet above a hardware store at 69 West Lake Street in Chicago and resolve to establish a university under the patronage of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
1851On January 28, the Illinois legislature approves Northwestern's Act of Incorporation, granting 36 trustees the power to administer the University's business affairs, organize faculty, adopt by-laws, and grant degrees.
- Clark T. Hinman becomes University's first president on June 23.
- The University purchases 379 acres on Lake Michigan for $25,000.
- The University officially opens on November 5.
- Northwestern's first building, Old College, is completed.
- An amendment to University charter forbids the sale of liquor within four miles of campus.
Randolph Foster becomes the University president.
Five students receive bachelor's degrees at Northwestern's first commencement.
- Henry Noyes becomes the University president.
- Student Edward Spencer rescues 17 survivors of the Lady Elgin, which sank in Lake Michigan.
- Erastus Haven becomes the University president.
- Trustees vote to admit young women to University classes "under the same terms and conditions as young men." Evanston resident Rebecca Hoag becomes first female to enroll at Northwestern.
- Chicago Medical College enters into an agreement with Northwestern University to serve as the University's Department of Medicine.
- New medical school building opens at Twenty-sixth and Prairie Avenue, adjacent to Mercy Hospital.
- Women's Hospital Medical College opens.
1872Dr. Charles Fowler becomes the University president.
1874Sarah Rebecca Roland is first woman to receive a degree from Northwestern.
1882The first football game is played against Lake Forest College.
1890Henry Wade Rogers becomes University president.
1891The School of Law opens.
1896Northwestern's first PhDs are awarded; one is in chemistry, and one is in philosophy.
1902The Rock, originally a drinking fountain, is given as a gift of the class of 1902.
- President Theodore Roosevelt visits campus.
- Northwestern wins the first of seven Big Ten football championships.
The School of Commerce opens.
The College of Engineering opens.
- Kenneth Huszagh is the first Northwestern athlete to participate in the Olympics.
- "Go U Northwestern," written by Northwestern University marching band member Theodore Van Etten, premieres in the season's final football game.
1917Northwestern Medical Corps formed. Northwestern men and women serve in various capacities in World War I: 250 students sign up for active service; 800 women mobilized in National Aid and Red Cross work; a total of 3,606 went to war, and 65 died.
1920Walter Dill Scott becomes the first non-Methodist University president.
1921Medill School of Journalism is established.
1924Wildcats becomes the name for Northwestern's athletics teams.
1929The first Waa-Mu show is performed.
1932A merger of Northwestern and University of Chicago is proposed and dismissed.
1933University College is created.
- Franklyn Snyder becomes the University President.
- The first-ever NCAA Men's Basketball Championship is held at Northwestern in Patten Gymnasium.
- WNUR begins broadcasting.
- Professor Melville Herskovits establishes the Program of African Studies.
- J. Roscoe Miller is named the University president.
- Northwestern's first computer is installed on campus in an unused room of the Dearborn Observatory.
- Northwestern defeats California 20-14 in the Rose Bowl.
1957Daily Northwestern staffers first paint the Rock.
- Robert Strotz becomes the University president.
- From May 6 to 13, campus is shut down in protest of Kent State shootings; this is the longest the school has ever been closed.