By Erik Moore
One hundred and sixty-seven years ago, The Minnesota Territorial Legislature established the University of Minnesota on February 25, 1851, today known as the University’s Founder’s Day.
However, for 17 years after 1851, the Regents and Legislature struggled to secure funding, weathered a market crash, and faced disruption from the Civil War that prevented the opening of the University.
Instead, it was 150 years ago when the University developed an academic collegiate program and hired its first president, William Watts Folwell, and university faculty. These changes began on February 18, 1868 with the Minnesota Legislature’s “Act to re-organize and provide for the governmental and regulation of the University of Minnesota, and to establish an Agricultural College within.”
The 1868 Act established the University’s mission, an academic framework, and the governance and duties of University leadership. In many ways, these events of 150 years ago are the beginnings of the University of Minnesota we know today.
—Erik Moore is the University Archivist and Co-Director of the University Digital Conservancy. To learn more about the University of Minnesota Archives, please visit www.lib.umn.edu/uarchives.