An act to re-organize

From the Archivist: Occasional posts related to University history

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.”

Act to re-organize and provide for the governmental and regulation of the University of Minnesota, and to establish an Agricultural College within
1868 Minnesota Session Laws of the 10th Legislative Session Chapter I dated February 18, 1868. In total, the reorganization consisted of 16 sections.

 

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.

 

Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to the Governor of Minnesota for the year 1868
1868 annual report of the Board of Regents announcing reorganization and academic programs. The report is available at http://hdl.handle.net/11299/96605.

 

The original main building on the University campus. Constructed in 1856 and altered in 1872, the building became as “Old Main” and was destroyed by a fire in 1904. Image available at http://purl.umn.edu/190267.

—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.

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