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College Archives:


Franklin & Marshall College Historical Timeline


Time Periods

19th Century

1800: Franklin College struggles along as a small institution under the leadership of President Muhlenberg, with the tiny faculty supplementing their income with private tutoring and church work.

1801: On New Year's day, the city of Lancaster holds a grand celebration at Franklin College to celebrate the election of Thomas Jefferson.

1807: Franklin College trustees finally pay for the surveying expense of the College lands in northern Pennsylvania.

1807: Franklin Academy opens in the building of Franklin College under the direction of Thomas Poole, professor of languages. Numerous "private academies" are run out of the Franklin College building over the next three decades.

1809: Benedict J. Schipper opens a "private academy" for the instruction of Greek and Latin in the Franklin College building. Dr. Schipper would later collaborate with President Muhlenberg to publish the first bilingual German-American dictionary printed in America.

1818: The establishment of a joint theological seminary at Franklin College is proposed by the Lutheran and Reformed churches. After considerable debate, the plan is dismissed.

1825: Demand for educated ministers in the Reformed Church leads to the establishment of a theological seminary in Carlisle under the direction of the Rev. Lewis Mayer.

1826: With the closing of Professor Schipper's academy, the citizens of Lancaster petition the state of Pennsylvania for assistance in establishing a local academy.

1827 (April 14): Lancaster succeeds in attracting funding for a new academy, and an act of incorporation is passed by the state legislature with an appropriation of $3,000 for professors and a new building.

1827 (October): A new academy building is raised on the northeast corner of Orange and Lime Streets. James P. Wilson is selected the academy's first principal.

1828: Lands in northern Pennsylvania become profitable for the first time. Original grant of 10,000 acres sold off in pieces over the next twenty years.

1829: Rev. Mayer moves the Reformed Seminary to York and appeals to the Reformed Synod for the establishment of a classical institution to assist with preparatory training.

1832: Classical institution is established in York under the direction of Dr. Frederick Augustus Rauch. It is renamed the High School in 1835.

1835: The Debating Society at York theological seminary is renamed Diagnothian at the suggestion of seminary student Samuel Reed Fisher. In June of that year, Diagnothian is divided into two friendly rivals to encourage debate. Diagnothian retains its original name, while the new society is named Goethean, in honor of German philosopher and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

1835 (October): The school struggles financially and proposals are submitted to the Reformed Church to move the seminary to either Chambersburg, Lancaster, or Mercersburg. The residents of Mercersburg pledge $10,000 in support of the move, and it is hoped that once relocated, a collegiate charter can be secured for the High School from the Pennsylvania state legislature.

1835 (November): The High School at York moves to Mercersburg in 1835 with 21 students and two professors. Seven are Diagnothians and 11 are Goetheans.

1836 (March 31): Pennsylvania state legislature grants charter to Marshall College with an appropriation of $10,000. The college is named in honor of the late John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States.








John Marshall,1755-1835, fourth Chief Justice of the United States, 1801-1835.





1836: Dr. Frederick Augustus Rauch is elected the first president of Marshall College. Dr. Rauch serves until his untimely death in 1841 at age 34.













1837: Seminary building constructed in Mercersburg. Majority of building is leased to Marshall College upon completion.



Marshall College Buildings ca. 1845


1837: Mr. J. H. Augustus Bomberger is the first graduate of Marshall College.

1839: The Rev. Mayer withdraws from his professorship at the Theological Seminary. Dr. Rauch agrees to conduct both the college and seminary until the arrival of the Rev. John Williamson Nevin in 1840.

1839: Franklin College sells its former building on North Queen Street and purchases the Lancaster County Academy on Orange and Lime Streets.





This building served as the home of Franklin College until 1856 when the College moved to its current location.


1840: First student literary publication, Rup-Jim-Jon, is published at Marshall College.

1840: Dr. Rauch publishes Psychology - a View of the Human Soul. It is the first book in America to use the term "psychology" in its title, and is influential in spreading Hegelian philosophy throughout the United States.

1840: Graduates of Marshall College organize themselves, establishing one of the first alumni associations in the country.

1841 (March 2): President Rauch dies suddenly after a short illness. The Rev. John W. Nevin assumes the presidency of Marshall College. He serves as president until Franklin and Marshall Colleges combine in 1853.






John Williamson Nevin, 1803-1886 later served as the second president of Franklin and Marshall from 1866-1876


1841: English department is added to Franklin College. The principal is Gad Day, former superintendent of Lancaster public schools.

1843: Marshall College Board of Trustees, at the suggestion of President Nevin, propose that the literary societies should erect halls on the Marshall College campus for their exclusive use.





Goethean Hall at Marshall College built in 1846.

1844 (August 12): Dr. Phillip Schaff arrives from Germany and joins the faculty of the Theological Seminary. Together with the Rev. John Nevin, the two professors define a new form of thinking and teaching known as "Mercersburg Theology".

1846: Franklin College board of trustees and the School District of Lancaster reach agreement whereby the school board would pay the salary of the Professor of Mathematics of Franklin College in exchange for the tuition of several advanced pupils. The arrangement is terminated by the school board in Sept. 1849, due to the construction of a new public high school.

1849 (December 6): In a effort to consolidate financial resources and secure the future of both colleges, the trustees of Franklin College extend a plan of union to President John W. Nevin and the trustees of Marshall College.

1850 (April 19): An act to consolidate Marshall College with Franklin College in Lancaster is passed by the state legislature on April 19, 1850.

1851: Opposition to the new Fugitive Slave Act is evident. Local white citizens defy a U. S. Marshall and slave owners trying to capture runaway slaves in Christiana, Lancaster county. The incident leads to the death of slave owner Edward Gorsuch and comes to be called the Christiana Resistance. Thaddeus Stevens succeeds in defending the 37 men charged with treason for defying the federal order.

1852: Fulton Hall (Fulton Opera House) is built on North Prince Street.



Fulton Hall was used by the College for commencements, meetings, and theatrical productions until Hensel Hall was constructed on campus in 1925.







1853 (March 1): The Hon. James Buchanan presides over the first meeting of the Franklin and Marshall College Board of Trustees.


Buchanan served as the President of the Board of Trustees from 1852 until 1866.

1853 (June 7): The formal opening of the College is held at "Fulton Hall". Classes are held in the old Franklin College building on North Lime Street until the dedication of the Main Building (Old Main) in May, 1856.

1853 (June 15th): Marshall College's real estate is officially transferred to Franklin and Marshall College.

1853: The Franklin and Marshall College men wore caps with bright letters on the front reading F M C. The local boys jokingly say it stands for "fools must come".

1853: Following the merger of Franklin College and Marshall College and the creation of F&M, members of the original Marshall College Alumni Association enthusiastically pledged themselves to the new institution. New officers of a combined association adopted the following statement of loyalty: "Resolved, that the Alumni Association of Marshall College expresses in public their entire and hearty concurrence on the consolidation that has taken place between their College and Franklin College."

1854: The Rev. E. V. Gerhart is elected first president of Franklin and Marshall College after the Rev. John W. Nevin and Dr. Phillip Schaff decline the post. Rev. Gerhart is a graduate of Marshall College, class of 1838.

1854: First F&M fraternity chapters are established, Chi Phi and Phi Kappa Sigma.

1855 (July 24): The first alumni dinner is held at Michael's Hotel on North Queen Street.

1856 (May 16): Main building (Old Main) dedicated as "Recitation Hall."




1856 (July 20): Cornerstones are laid for Goethean and Diagnothian Halls. Both buildings are dedicated in 1857.


Ca. 1860 view of the first four buildings on the F&M Campus: Janitor's House, Goethean Hall, the College Building, and Diagnothian Hall.





1861: With the start of the Civil War, Goethean and Diagnothian Halls serve as hospitals for sick soldiers from Camp Johnston, an emergency recruitment camp located northwest of Lancaster city.

1863 (June 27): School officials close the Franklin and Marshall school year early in fear of the approaching Confederate armies. Many students leave to help burn the bridge at Wrightsville, preventing a Confederate advance across the Susquehanna into Lancaster county.

1863 (July): Battle of Gettysburg. To assist with hospital efforts, President Gerhart organizes a humanitarian trip with 15 to 20 students to the site of the battle. For three days they minister to the wounded in town and camp hospitals.

1866: Dr. John Williamson Nevin is elected 2nd president of Franklin College. He serves until his retirement in 1876.





1866: First baseball game is held by the student-run Alpha Club.








1871: Harbaugh Hall is constructed as the first dormitory on campus. It houses 40 students and includes dining facilities for 100. It stands for 29 years, until its demolition in 1900.




1871: The Mercersburg Theological Seminary moves to Lancaster and occupies two rooms in Old Main. Two additional buildings are constructed on campus to house Seminary professors.

1872: An Academy building is constructed to house the college's preparatory school. The building is later known as "East Hall". Cyrus V. Mays, class of 1856, is placed in charge of the new school.


The Academy building served the F&M Academy and the College until its demolition in 1978.


1873: First student newspaper, College Days is published. Later student newpapers include The College Student (1881-1914), The F&M Weekly (1891-1915), The Student Weekly (1915-1964) and The College Reporter (1964-present).

1874: The Alumni Association incorporates in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

1874: A rear addition to Old Main is constructed. It enlarges the chapel for services and commencement.

1877: The Rev. Thomas Gilmore Apple is elected 3rd president of Franklin and Marshall College. He serves until 1889.















1883: The first issue of the Oriflamme yearbook is published.














1886: Scholl Observatory is built under the leadership of astronomy professor Jefferson E. Kershner. It is financed by Margaret Scholl Hood of Frederick, Maryland, in honor of her father, Daniel Scholl.








1887: Centennial Celebration of the founding of Franklin College. There are over 100 students currently enrolled in Franklin and Marshall College.

1887: The first football team is organized by Seminary student Miles O. Noll. Franklin and Marshall College is defeated 9-0 by the York YMCA.









1889: The Rev. John Summers Stahr is inaugurated 4th president of Franklin and Marshall College. He serves until 1909, when he returns to the faculty. He continues teaching at Franklin and Marshall until his death in 1915.
















1889: Franklin and Marshall Glee Club is formed under the direction of Seminary student William M. Irvine.












1891: The gymnasium (Distler House) is constructed, containing a bowling alley, indoor running track, and gymnastic equipment.


The Gym was converted in 1925 for use as a student center when it became known as the Campus House. It was renamed Distler House in 1976.


1894: A voluntary college cadet corps is formed under the direction of Lieut. Edgar W. Howe, 17th Infantry. The company, complete with uniforms and weapons, studies military science and tactics.

1895: The "New Athletic Field" is constructed with the assistance of $1,500 from Henry S. Williamson. A concrete grandstand is added in 1922 at a cost of $10,000.

1897: Watts De Peyster Library constructed with funds donated by John Watts de Peyster of New York.


Watts de Peyster was razed in 1936 to make room for the construction of Fackenthal Library.








1899: Franklin & Marshall Dramatic Association is formed under the direction of professor Claude B. Davis. The following year, the association is renamed the Green Room Club by college secretary and stage manager R. J. Pilgram.


An early Green Room cast.





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