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1815-1850: Education: Chronology

1815-1850: Education: Chronology




  • Edward Everett, Edward Cogswell, and George Ticknor are among the first of some ten thousand American students who further their education at German universities in the nineteenth century.
  • The American Education Society is created to provide funds for student aid.


  • New York merchant Eleazar Lord and associate Divie Bethune create the New York Sunday School Union Society.



  • Thomas Jefferson meets with legislators in Rockfish Gap to recommend a university for the state of Virginia.


  • Harvard professor George Ticknor harshly criticizes the American college system for the poor quality of its libraries, the exclusion of modern languages from the curriculum, and the lack of specialized departments.
  • Thomas Jefferson founds the University of Virginia.
  • Emma Hart Willard publishes A Plan for Improving Female Education.


  • The first Roman Catholic school in New England is founded in Boston, enrolling more than one hundred girls in its first year.


  • Emma Hart Willard starts an institution of higher education for women, the Troy Female Seminary, in Troy, New York.
  • The English Classical School (later named the English High School) opens in Boston.


  • A Bowdoin College instructor makes use of the blackboard for the first time in American higher education.
  • At Harvard College student frustration over the rigid authoritarianism of college life leads to a riot and damage to campus buildings. The Great Rebellion forces school officials to expel forty-three seniors out of a class of seventy.
  • Catharine Beecher opens the Hartford Female Seminary in Connecticut.


  • The University of Virginia opens, offering students eight possible fields of study ranging from anatomy to ancient languages.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York, the first entirely technical school in the United States, is founded to instruct children of mechanics and farmers in theoretical and mechanical sciences.
  • Supporters of the Sunday school movement organize the national American Sunday School Union.


  • Miami University in Ohio permits the substitution of modern languages, practical mathematics, and political economy for certain subjects in the traditional or classical curriculum.
  • President Philip Lindsley of the University of Nashville adopts a curriculum that stresses vocational and research concerns over the study of Greek and Latin.
  • Harvard institutes major changes in its curriculum as a result of the colleges first institutional self-evaluation. Changes include the departmentalization of faculty and curriculum, an option for juniors and seniors to take a small number of elective courses, and the introduction of some self-pacing of the curriculum.
  • Union College in Schenectady, New York, creates the first Greek-letter social fraternity, Kappa Alpha.


  • Union College introduces a scientific curriculum, which includes modern languages, mathematics, and sciences, as an alternative to the classical program.
  • Josiah Holbrook organizes the first American lyceum (adult education) in Millbury, Massachusetts.


  • Philadelphia reformers found the Society for the Promotion of Public Schools.
  • Samuel Griswold Goodrich begins publishing the Peter Parley textbooks.


  • The faculty at Yale College respond to the increasing criticism of the American college with a report that describes the purpose of higher education as providing the discipline and furniture of the mind.
  • Kenyon College in Knox County, Ohio, introduces faculty advising in which each student is teamed with one member of the faculty.
  • Noah Webster publishes the first edition of his famous dictionary, which helps standardize the American language.


  • James Smithsons will leaves property to the U.S. government to be used to establish and institution for advancing knowledge. In 1846 Congress will create the Smithsonian Institute.


  • Columbia University adopts a program that includes both science and modern languages.
  • The American Institute of Instruction is founded in Boston.
  • Workingmens parties adopt educational reform as a primary goal.


  • Ohio University establishes a program to prepare public-school teachers.
  • The National American Lyceum is organized and adopts a constitution.
  • The first coeducational public high school is established in Lowell, Massachusetts.
  • Nat Turners uprising results in the intensification of efforts to prevent African Americans in the South from receiving formal education.


  • Prudence Crandall begins ger two-year struggle to maintain a seminary of African American girls in Canterbury, Connecticut.


  • Oberlin College in Ohio becomes the first college to admit women to a previously all-male institution.


  • The Pennsylvania School Law passes.


  • Rensselaer Institute awards the nations first engineering degree.
  • There are over three thousand lyceum lecture associations in the nation.
  • Thaddeus Stevens issues his famous defense of the school tax in Pennsylvania.
  • Local residents destroy the racially integrated Noyes academy at Canaan, New Hampshire.


  • Wesleyan Female College of Macon, Georgia, becomes the first degree granting womens college in the United States.
  • William H. McGuffey begins to publish McGuffeys Readers for grade-schoolers across the nation.


  • New York State establishes the Peoples College to provide science and technical education to craftsmen.
  • Horace Mann becomes the first secretary of Massachusettss newly created state board of education.
  • Mary Lyon establishes the first fully endowed institution of higher education for women, Mount Holyoke Seminary, in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
  • Massachusetts law requires children to receive schooling prior to employment in mills and factories.
  • Michigan enters the Union with the first constitutional provision of state responsibility for promoting and supervising public schools.


  • Horace Mann founds the Common School Journal as an organ for the ideas of public school reformers.
  • Henry Barnard becomes secretary of the Connecticut Board of Education.
  • The first normal school (a formal school for the preparation of teachers) is founded in Lexington, Massachusetts.


  • A Catholic school controversy begins in New York.
  • In Connecticut, Henry Barnard conducts the nations first teachers institute.
  • The Virginia Military is founded.


  • A total of seven institutions of all kinds exists in the nation for the higher education of women.


  • There are approximately two hundred parochial schools in the country.


  • Controversy over Bible reading and religious exercises in the public schools begins in Philadelphia.


  • Henry Barnard moves from Connecticut to Rhode Island to promote public education.


  • Horace Manns Seventh Annual Report embroils him in conflict with Boston schoolmasters.


  • Union College becomes the first liberal arts college to inaugurate an engineering program.
  • Henry Barnard becomes Rhode Islands state commissioner of public schools.


  • Yale makes two faculty appointments in agriculture.


  • The New York State legislature charters the tuition-free Academy of New York City, later renamed City College of New York.
  • Yale College founds a scientific institution on its campus, the Sheffield Scientific School, and takes the first tentative steps towards the creation of a graduate school.
  • Harvard College creates the Lawrence Scientific School, which emphasizes the study of eology and zoology. Instruction at the new school, however, doest not initially lead to a bachelors degree.


  • The first state reform school opens at Westborought, Massachusetts.
  • In the Roberts case the Massachusetts Supreme Court upholds the right to maintain separate-but-equal colored schools.


  • Avery College, the first black-sponsored college, opens in Pennsylvania.
  • New Hampshire passes the first law authorizing tax-supported libraries on a statewide basis.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell graduates from Geneva Medical College in New York as the first American woman to earn a medical degree.


  • The president of Brown University, Francis Wayland, proposes a radically new curriculum that increases the number of science courses as well as offering students a greater degree of freedom in the selection of courses and majors. Insufficient funding and lack of public support end of the experiment within four years.
  • Antoinette Brown becomes the first American women to earn a degree in theology, graduating from Oberlin College.

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