1849 – University of Wisconsin opens
On this day in 1849 the University of Wisconsin began with 20 students led by Professor John W. Sterling. The first class was organized as a preparatory school in the first department of the University: a department of science, literature, and the arts.
The university was initially housed at the Madison Female Academy building, which had been provided free of charge by the city. The course of study was English grammar; arithmetic; ancient and modern geography; elements of history; algebra; Caesar’s Commentaries; the Aeneid of Virgil (six books); Sallust; select orations of Cicero; Greek; the Anabasis of Xenophon; antiquities of Greece and Rome; penmanship, reading, composition and declamation.
Also offered were book-keeping, geometry, and surveying. Tuition was “twenty dollars per scholar, per annum.”
For a detailed recollection of early UW-Madison life, see the memoirs of Mrs. W.F. Allen [Source: History of the University of Wisconsin, Reuben Gold Thwaites, 1900]