Year Event

Northwestern University is founded. Northwestern University was established in 1851 to serve the people of the Northwest Territory, an area that now includes the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota. In 1853, the founders purchased a 379-acre tract of land on the shore of Lake Michigan 12 miles north of Chicago. The town that grew up around the University was named 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 2 faculty and 10 students. By 1900, the University had grown to include 7 undergraduate and graduate schools with 2,700 students and an annual budget of more than $200,000. (History).


Phi Delta Theta (Illinois Alpha Chapter) becomes Northwestern's first fraternity. The chapter closes in 1863 due to the Civil war and re-opens in 1887. (Bairds)


Phi Kappa Psi (Illinois Alpha Chapter) is founded at NU. The chapter closes in 1870 and re-opens in 1878.

1867 Phi Gamma Delta (Phi Chapter) is founded at NU

First Female Admitted to Northwestern. Sarah Rebecca Roland enrolls at Northwestern. (Archives)

Sigma Chi (Omega Chapter) founded at NU.


Chicago fire started from the cowbarn on the west side of the city and traveled as far north as Fullerton Avenue in Chicago. The Water Tower on North Michigan Avenue was evacuated, but not badly damaged. (History)


Phi Kappa Sigma (Upsilon Chapter) founded at Northwestern. (Bairds)

Brothers of Phi Kappa Sigma, Late 1880's
photo: Phi Kappa Sigma, late 1880's

Rho Chapter of Beta Theta Pi founded at NU.


Delta Upsilon (Northwestern Chapter) is founded at NU. (Bairds)


Alpha Phi (Beta Chapter) founded at NU as its first sorority. (Bairds)

1882 Delta Gamma (Sigma Chapter) founded at NU.

Kappa Kappa Gamma (Upsilon Chapter) founded at NU


Kappa Alpha Theta (Tau Chapter) founded at NU.

First consideration for the construction of a fraternity house on University land was made to the Board of Trustees by Phi Kapp Psi alumni.


Gamma Phi Beta (Epsilon) founded at NU.